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The New Chick Flick

January 18, 2011

Each Tuesday I’ve been reviewing a movie in my search for the world’s worst chick flick. So far I’ve reviewed 5 movies and been reminded of just how far we’ve fallen from what a chick flick used to be.

Today, I just couldn’t do it.

I looked around and brainstormed for a movie to review and had decided on Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. I was ready to hit play on Netflix instant…but I couldn’t do it.

Crappy chick flicks have broken my spirit. Not really, I’ll do another one next week. But I needed to take a break this week or else I might have gone insane from watching 116 minutes of women doing emotionally destructive things to each other.

Instead, I wanted to take a moment to say this: Guys’ movies have become the new chick flicks. Before I explain why, let’s take a moment to look back on the history of chick flicks.

The Philadelphia StoryKatharine Hepburn is quoted as saying “I was totally unaware that we were the second-rate sex.” This view is quite clear in her movies and in the movies of a lot of classic Hollywood women. In these movies, women were strong, smart, and confident. They weren’t perfect, but they were women with class. They had a life and were open to a man coming along to complement their life, not fix it. They wanted a man who would add more depth to their busy life, not a man who would show them that being career-driven is wrong.

Today, chick flicks are almost always about bitter know-it-alls who need to loosen up, or about desperate women looking for someone to complete them. Rarely do you see a smart, confident woman any more who is pleasantly surprised by love. Even when you do see this, it’s usually because she was manipulating a man and accidentally fell in love with him.

This is not the case in movies geared toward men. I was thinking about this a few weeks ago when I went to see Tron: Legacy. One of the main characters is Quorra, who cares for other people and even beats the crap out of people to help those she loves. She is strong, confident, and smart. She rolls with the punches and saves the day when it needs saving.

So I’m sitting in the theater and I realize that this is true of almost all the women in movies that are predominately geared toward men. Think about comic book movies, action movies, or movies about heists. The women in Batman Begins, The Bourne Identity and The Italian Job are exactly what Katharine Hepburn was: strong, confident, smart, and ready to help when the world seems to be ending.

They don’t stop the action and demand that their boyfriend pay more attention to them. They don’t whine about not finding love and then spend 80 hours in an office collating information. They aren’t perfect, but they don’t sit around and whine about men while eating Ben & Jerry’s.

These are the women I want to watch fall in love. These are the women who don’t make me cringe and wonder if this is really how men view us. Maybe if chick flicks were still about likable women, men wouldn’t have to be forced or bribed to watch them. If we actually cared about the characters and wanted to see them be happy, perhaps it would be not just enjoyable, but believable.

The Bourne IdentityThat’s what I want from Hollywood. I want movies about characters I like. Characters with whom I identify. If I have to watch cars explode and superheroes in spandex save the day to get these things, fine by me. But I’d prefer to see the love story of people without special powers or CIA training. I’d prefer to see a modern Katharine Hepburn, Maureen O’Hara, Bette Davis, or Grace Kelly knock the wind out of a man with her confidence and class, rather than a whiny woman fall into a relationship the audience knows won’t last.

One Comment leave one →
  1. anna permalink
    June 14, 2011 12:03 pm

    Amen! Preach it!
    I’d also take car explosions (and sword fights) if only to see some women act in a likable manner, and I would add Myrna Loy to your last paragraph.

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