The Men and the Others
I am known to hate that entire genre of film we call the "Chick Flick" with a seething passion (unless, of course, it has Meg Ryan in it and a deliciously witty script by Norah Ephron). I rarely see these movies by choice, unless they happen to be a double feature at a drive-in... or unless a housemate happens to have it on... and, hey, I have no homework tonight so why not help myself to a big steaming bag of sexism and just plain awful movie-making?
Such was the case last night. The movie was "Made of Honor," and I was reminded with bitter and pained enlightenment why I have come to detest these movies. The sexism imbedded in this movie is so blatantly obvious (at least to the well-educated eye) that I was practically in shock at what I was seeing on the screen. Is this how modern Rom-Coms are now? Is this seriously what young women are being exposed to?
Now, admittedly, I only caught the last half of this movie, but that was definitely enough for me to view some major issues in this film. And had I watched any more I'm sure my brain would have imploded. The most glaring issue in "Made of Honor" is, of course, the characters. And by the characters, I don't mean characters being underdeveloped or vapid and not as complex as they should be for good movie-making. It's a Rom-Com. The story-line is about love. It's pretty much guaranteed that most characters are going to be pretty flat and uninteresting. What I take issue with is the blatant characterization of some people, overwhelmingly male people, as actual human beings while others, overwhelming female people, are just that: others. Somehow very foreign and not just unpersonable, but completely separate from that which we consider to be a person . While the main male character's friends are certainly flawed, they are all likable. They are funny, supportive, and overall very well-balanced. The main female character's friends, however, are all either neurotic, bitchy, over-dramatic, and body-conscious. I found the otherizing of women to be not only offensive, but also frightening.
Every year, thousands upon thousands of young girls and women see movies like these. And while the female behavior in "Made of Honor" is outlandishly silly and shallow and definitely not typical of any type of human behavior, the fact of the matter is that this kind of media and this kind of constant characterization of women actually conditions young people's thinking into believing that it is reality. "THIS is what women care about. THIS is how women are." Is a young girl not then pressured to develop her behavior in order to comply with what is being presented as typical female character?
Needless to say, I probably ruined this movie for my friend, as I was bitterly commenting on all of this aloud as the movie was playing. And I hope I did ruin it for her. I hope I did shatter the fantasy. Because it's not a fantasy at all, really. It's a nightmare. It's a nightmare for young women who feel compelled to fill these molds set out for them, and who know deep inside their consciousness that something is missing.