February 19, 2010

An unhealthy diet of "chick flicks"

Harding’s piece at Salon’s Broadsheet was inspired by one man’s attempt to “understand” women. How did he conduct this bit of anthropological research? By ingesting 30 “chick flicks” in 30 days. I can only guess that this endeavor nauseated him as much as McDonald’s greasy fried bits nauseated Morgan Spurlock in a similar challenge in Supersize Me (afterall, these films are as unhealthy for you mentally and emotionally as the Golden Arches’ fat-packed, artery clogging menu offerings are for your heart, intestines and colon).

As Harding points out, few films are directed by women and Waters, the man seeking to understand the female creature, only watched 8 female-directed films out of 30. She also calls out the heterosexist and “white” roles and story lines. The point being, uh,  not all women are white, not all women are straight. And, of course, the primary goal in the bulk of these films is marriage (preferably in Vera Wang). Last, not all women want to get married and many who do, want a divorce.

I’ve copped to my sick addiction to romantic comedies and “chick flicks” on numerous occasions.  With that said, I’ve actively employed my media literacy skills in deconstructing and examining these messages. Yes, I watch too many of these homogeneous films that recycle the same characters and plots time and time again. But, I am able to recognize the fallacies, stereotypes and sexist remarks while most theater (or Netflix) patrons do not. They ingest these images, roles and messages over and over from childhood to adulthood and these messages become normative, expected and unremarkable. Men come to believe that women are unintelligent, self-absorbed creatures seeking a ring and a baby. Women learn that this is what they should aspire to as a goal and the way to achieve that is through expensive and time consuming beauty practices. They are led to believe that this is what will land them the relationship they’ve dreamed of since girlhood when they’d scrawl their crushes name all over their notebooks.

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February 14, 2010

There's nothing sweet about Valentine's Day

Filed under: Gender,Media — Tags: , , , — Melanie @ 7:14 pm

In fact, there’s nothing remotely redeeming about Valentine’s Day despite bringing in 52.4 million this past weekend. Then again, we know box office numbers don’t necessarily reveal anything about quality.

Jezebel’s review reveals a more accurate picture of the film than the numbers.

That text was, of course, written in the heat of passion: Valentine’s Day isn’t actually the worst movie I’ve ever seen, because it’s far too boring and forgettable for that. By now everyone knows the “plot” of the movie: a bunch of characters experience tiny story arcs over the course of one illogically all-encompassing Valentine’s Day in Los Angeles. (Seriously, in the fantastical world of this movie, Valentine’s Day is a holiday so big it’s bigger than Christmas, bigger in fact than any holiday we have in America, taking over the lives of every character, from a wee child to adult men and women with jobs to wise old elderly folks. It’s absurd.) Suffice it to say that not one of these characters or their easily-tied-up “problems” are more compelling than a sitcom clip show, or low-budget children’s television (which it actually, a few cliched dirty jokes aside, most resembles). This movie has the emotional depth of an (over) two-hour episode of Saved By the Bell, but without the nostalgia element to make it palatable. If you’ve read even one review of the movie, or even if you haven’t, there will be no surprises — not a single one. Everyone ends up making the decisions you know they will make as the film plods on, and even if the movie’s only “surprises” haven’t already been spoiled for you by the internet, you’ll figure them out ahead of time based on the simple math of how many characters are left over who haven’t been matched up yet — it’s like that preschooler’s game, “Memory.” But it’s a movie. A long, boring, lazy movie. In which the only star with double-digit on-screen minutes is Ashton Kutcher.

I love romantic comedies. Well, I love them like I love chocolate or the junkie loves their fix. You want more knowing it’s not good for you. The point is I have devoured countless sappy flicks even when the overlying message is offensive from a gendered perspective. So, I was open to liking it. In fact, I *really* wanted to like it, or at least parts of it. If nothing else, I thought I’d find some juicy bits to critique in this blog. Nope, it was soooooo bad that there wasn’t even anything to diss. AND. It’s one of less than a handful of movies I’ve seen in a theater since my son was born. So, I REALLY wanted to find something worthwhile in a film that was advertised as better than a big ol’ box of sweets.

Nope.

Now, that is pathetic.