July 24, 2009 § 4 Comments
It’s summer, and though I’m busy working my tail patience off as a camp counselor, I also have quite a bit of downtime. I’ve seen a bunch of movies lately: some silly ones with my family (The Proposal and Year One) as well as films that I actually wanted to see (Away We Go and, last night, 500 Days of Summer — both excellent, the latter mostly because of my enormous crush on Zooey Deschanel). But one movie that I’m certain I won’t spend $12.50 on is The Ugly Truth, starring part-time feminist Katherine Heigl as a “romantically challenged morning show producer” and Gerard Butler as a professional douche. I’ve seen some previews that warned me of its knee-slappin’ “humor,” and then this morning I read the excellently scathing New York Times review by Manohla Dargis, fabulously titled Girl Meets Ape, and Complications Ensue.
When it comes to the old straight-boy-meets-straight-girl configuration with big-studio production values…the romantic comedy is nearly as dead as Meg Ryan’s career. In the best of these films, the women aren’t romantic foils, much less equals: they’re either (nice) sluts or (nicer) wives, and essentially as mysterious and unknowable as the dark side of the moon.
Which leads to “The Ugly Truth,” a cynical, clumsy, aptly titled attempt to cross the female-oriented romantic comedy with the male-oriented gross-out comedy that is interesting on several levels, none having to do with cinema. Katherine Heigl plays Abby, a producer for a ratings-challenged Sacramento morning television show, the kind that specializes in empty smiles, cooking tips and weather updates. She’s single and therefore, in the moral economy of modern Hollywood, unhappy. Her life goes into a tailspin when her boss hires a professional ape, Mike (Gerard Butler), who delivers loutish maxims on camera about the sexes that basically all boil down to this: Men have penises, and women should accommodate them any which way they can, preferably in push-up bras and remote-controlled vibrating panties.
…Ms. Heigl doesn’t do perky all that persuasively, but she does keep her smile and relative dignity even in scenes in which Abby is forced to play the fool, which is often, as when she’s hanging upside down from a tree in her skivvies. She even survives the scene that finds Abby writhing spasmodically during a dinner with her corporate masters, because, well, she’s wearing those pulsating panties, the boy at the next table has the remote, and there’s nothing funnier (or, really, scarier) than the spectacle of female pleasure.
I am SO. TIRED. of media that portrays women’s minds as murky, our bodies as property, and our desires as hilarious. A woman’s sexuality is not so damn difficult to understand — if you talk to and listen to her, which society is apparently loath to do.
And another thing: no one seems to get that these movies are as offensive to men as they are to women. Commenters on IMDB rave that it’s a “comedy for both sexes,” one you can “bring your boyfriend” to. Men should not be like Butler’s skeevy character; and what’s more, they aren’t. But movies like this convince the public that guys are practically children, and we shouldn’t expect to hold them accountable for atrocious sexist behavior.
“The Ugly Truth” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian).
The language is consistently crude and includes the apparently now requisite antigay slurs.
Yeah. Because straight = manly, manly = asshole, and asshole = sexy.
June 10, 2009 § 23 Comments
This is an advertisement for the second season of True Blood, a television series on HBO.
I have never seen this show, and my thoughts on this poster are difficult to articulate. But they’ve been stewing for weeks, and I know for sure that I am troubled by the combination of the sexual picture and the words “It hurts so good.” A few days ago I saw one of these on a payphone booth, and on the plastic cover was written in black marker: “Stop Domestic Violence. This Ad Is Dangerous.” I am seriously inclined to agree.
My response is complicated by my knowledge that some people achieve certain kinds of pleasure from certain kinds of pain. Some people embody the phrase on this poster. These people might be my friends, partners, teachers, or peers. They might even include my future self. I am conscious that this group, linked by sexual preferences, has a history of being demeaned and fetishized and caricatured by society, and I want no part in that degradation.
But at the same time, this advertisement scares me. Like the glamourization of dead women, this design portrays direct physical violence as something sexy. It tells boys and men that women will automatically lust after violent sexual interactions. The problem is not that women may indeed have such fantasies, and that they will have male partners who will participate — it’s that this ad sanctions sexually violent attitudes on a grand scale. In our consent-confused culture, this subtext could easily translate into an implicit excuse for sexual assault: it was hurting her good. She liked it, even if she didn’t say so.
That thought makes me more than a little nauseous.
June 5, 2009 § Leave a comment
Sarah Haskins goodness! This time she takes on the “story telling” aspect of commercials geared towards women.
Happy Friday, everybody!
April 1, 2009 § 2 Comments
March 30, 2009 § 4 Comments
So today I saw an unnerving ad for a bleach product whose name and manufacturer currently escapes me.
This ad, which I also cannot find online to link here (I’m sucking today), features a man lecturing a group of eager-to-please, neurotic women. What have these bad, bad, ladies done wrong? They have used bleach on their clothes that specifically say NO BLEACH. *GASP*
Thank God that we have whatever-company-makes-said-bleach to shame us about our bad housekeeping habits.
But it’s not really the shaming that gets me (although that’s really lovely). What I find particularly gross about this ad is that is features a MAN telling a group of WOMEN about this heavenly new science-y detergent. Because women, with their simply lady minds (I love you, Haskins) couldn’t possibly figure out that bleach shouldn’t touch non-bleach clothes! That’s beyond us, duh.
It would be awesome if the commercial were somehow teaching people that men can also pitch in around the house (something we never see in the commercial sector), but I don’t think it is making that statement at all.
But then, of course, when I step back from it all, I wonder whether or not I’m projecting feminist issues all over the place. But I guess that someone has to spew ‘agenda’ all over the place, because that helps us get to what’s really important. I don’t know. What do YOU think?
March 21, 2009 § 7 Comments
This week, Vogue‘s Shape issue, which touts “fashion for every figure,” has me pissed.
First off, there’s no way in hell that this magazine represents women of all shapes. The evidence is right there on the cover: above the Shape Issue: Fashion for Every Figure, from size 0 to 20 copy, I see NIP/TUCK: Designing a Perfect Body. And towards the bottom of the cover: Work It! Longer Legs, Leaner Lines, Sexier Silhouette. Because apparently only long legs and lean lines are sexy. Fuck that.
But the real misogynistic fodder is on the inside, in the Laid Bare spread (again with the long legs obsession: sky-high heels in leg-lengthening flesh tones are a revelation - really? A revelation? Because I think we’ve been seeing long, thin limbs in magazines for quite some time, and they’re certainly not missing from this issue). Pics from the spread after the jump.
February 11, 2009 § 3 Comments
A friend sent me this list today of TV’s 8 most sexist ads and, while I’m aware that cracked.com isn’t exactly a feminist-friendly website, I thought this was spot on. I also think that while the writer did a really good job of finding the most blatantly sexist commercials, it’s important to note that there’s also a huge amount of subtle sexism that pervades advertisements in our culture, enforcing gender stereotypes that people don’t even think to question.
Surprisingly though, this list doesn’t mention chocolate.