Sunday, February 2, 2014

That Awkward Moment ... when a film perpetuates harmful gender stereotypes

Not my image, obviously.

By Isabelle M

Last night a friend and I went to see American Hustle. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the theater, the showing was already sold out. Faced with such choices as Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and I, Frankenstein (really?!) we chose the only comedy available, even though neither of us knew what it was about. And that’s how we ended up seeing That Awkward Moment.

Now, I am naturally dubious of anything starring Zac Efron (even his name looks strange - shouldn’t there be more letters in it?) because all I know about him is that he was in something called High School Musical and that he did a lot of cocaine and went to rehab. But I like Michael B. Jordan, and the movie did have its moments.

The premise of the movie is that three guy friends in their (late?) twenties vow to stay single and yet somehow get some action pretty much every night of the week. Their mission is made almost impossible by beautiful women throwing themselves at them practically every day, begging them to settle down. But of course none of them are worth it. Once the women walk out on them it doesnt matter, because Zac (and his friend who was so unmemorable I’m not going to bother to learn his name) can just replace her on his “roster” with another hot girl. Yes, they have “rosters” like a sports team.

But that’s not the offensive thing I came here to talk about. The absolute worst part of the movie, to me, was when some girl Zac Efron is sleeping with and going on dates with at least twice in one day had the audacity to think they were in a relationship, and asks if she can come by. Zac and Michael and Unmemorable Friend are sitting on the couch when she rings the bell. The guys tell Zac to tell the chick to get lost. Zac buzzes her in anyway, and then something amazing happens.

She totally charms them! How? By conversing on literary theory? By talking about her first novel that she’s having published at the young age of …. I don’t know, 24-ish? No, by pouring the scotch she brought with her, and then playing Xbox with Zac’s friends. Then, at the end of the night, she leaves. She doesn’t try to stay the night (women, so needy! Amiright?), she knows when it’s an appropriate time to drink, when it’s an appropriate time to shoot aliens in a videogame, and she knows when to bounce.

THIS is what bothered me about the movie. THIS is the moment I have been thinking about since we left the theater. Because there is something so wrong about sending the message that a woman is only likeable when she acts like a man. Zac’s (totally worthless) friends think she’s cool because she is the antithesis of what they think women are: needy, weak, insufferable. She acts like “one of the guys” and that is the only way she gains acceptance.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with drinking, or with liking to blow up aliens on your Xbox. But when the film juxtaposes “worthless” women (Women who like shoes more than anything else on earth! Women who want to know “where this is going” after having sex twice a week for 6 weeks, etc.) with “desirable” women whose only differentiating qualities is that they act “cooler” (read: more masculine) we have a serious problem. But I suppose we knew that already.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the awesome post, Isabelle! (and for giving me the week off ;)