Movies: What’s Your Number Breaks Some Boundaries, Upholds Others*.

 

I’d been looking forward to What’s Your Number for a while; Anna Faris is not someone you always see in a leading role in a mainstream, big box office rom com with Chris Evans; there’s a whole host of up-and-coming actors and established comedians (Joel McHale, Andy Samberg); and it deals with the issue of slut-shaming, the first in my memory to do so since Easy A, to name but a few reasons.

But if 20 lovers is the be all and end all in a woman’s quest to get married, then Faris’ character, Ally Darling, is up shit creek without a paddle.

When she discovers after reading a women’s magazine article that she’s slept with 19 men, thus significantly lowering her chances of getting married, she vows not to sleep with one more man until she’s sure he’s the one. One drunken bachelorette party later, and she’s slept with her ex-boss (played by McHale).

During her quest to seek out all her exes so she doesn’t have to go above 20, she meets her across-the-hall neighbour, Colin (Evans). And you can guess what happens next…

While I did enjoy the storyline, and I do love me some Faris and Evans, I was sorely disappointed in two aspects of the climax: that Ally clichély falls down when she runs out of her sister’s wedding to find Colin (see the Women Falling Down video for just how cliché this really is), and that after she’s slept with Colin she gets a phone call from one of her past lovers claiming they never slept together, just that she got really drunk, gave him a mediocre lapdance and handjob, and then passed out in the shower. So yay, right?! Ally’s back to 20 and a) will get married, and b) isn’t a whore!

I particularly liked it, though, when the guy Ally dumps Colin for—her high school sweetheart-turned-big time philanthropist, Jake—discovers she didn’t lose her virginity to him in high school, straying when he was out of town. He says, “Big deal. So you’ve only slept with two guys in your life.” I laughed out loud at this point. I’m not sure how old Ally is meant to be (considering she says she didn’t go to her high school reunion at the beginning of the movie, my guess is she’s around 30), but Jake—or any guy, for that matter—is deluded if they think a 30-year-old woman is going to remain celibate from her first sexual encounter in high school til she meets her husband later in life. Sure, there are some women who this is true for, but it’s the exception, not the norm.

Jake then proceeds to judge Ally on how many people she’s slept with, evening saying “Eww!”

On the other hand, Colin in the embodiment of a modern man. He couldn’t care less how many people Ally’s slept with, just as long as she sleeps with him, I suppose! But really, who does care? Why is your “number” so important?

*Blanket spoiler alert.

Related: Easy A Review.

In Defence of Rachel Berry.

Elsewhere: [YouTube] Women Falling Down in Romantic Comedies.

Image via FanPix.

A Slut By Any Other Name?

 

From “Slut Shaming: It’s Not About How Much Sex You Have” by Rachel Hills on Musings of an Inappropriate Woman:

“When I hear the word ‘slut’ bandied about, it usually has less to do with the number of partners a girl has or what she wears, than with her perceived threat to the Girl Code.

“It’s about stuff like flirting with another girl’s boyfriend (or hell, flirting with another girl’s love interest), or seeming too interested in the attentions of men (particularly men whom other women are interested in the attentions of). It’s about the possibility that professional success might be predicated in some way on sex appeal. It’s about the fear that the ‘slut’ in question might betray you for a man … or even just for a fun night out.”

Elsewhere: [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman] Slut Shaming: It’s Not About How Much Sex You Have.

Images via IMDb.

Movies: The Best Movies I’ve Seen This Year.

 

Tomorrow, When the War Began. Check out my review to see how strongly I feel about it.

Desk Set. This 1957 romantic comedy starring Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy takes place in a reference library, and deals with the incorporation of computers to help the ladies in their cataloguing. With a healthy dose of the trademark ’50s slapstick rom-com dynamic and TDF fashion, I loved this one.

Easy A. Again, another I’ve done a review on. While I had high hopes for this one, it didn’t live up to them fully, but it is one of the smarter teen movies in recent memory. On par with Mean Girls, perhaps?

Rear Window. What took me so long, right? I watched this one for the first time last Christmas, and continued the tradition again this holiday season. Grace Kelly is luminous as “his girl Friday” to James Stewart’s L.B. Jeffries, who is the ultimate leading man. Hitchcock at his best.

Toy Story 3. It is unanimous that Toy Story 3 is one of the best movies released in 2010. Perhaps the best of the Toy Story franchise? Nah, my money’s on the first instalment.

Desperately Seeking Susan. So bad it’s good. The fashion is fabulous (on Madonna’s part, anyway) and Her Madgesty is surprisingly likable in it.

Sorry about the dismal effort in this post, but seriously; there were no good movies this year! You only have to look at Sex & the City 2 (which I quite liked, but will admit was baaad), The Expendables and Killers for proof of that.

That’s why I spent a lot of my cinema-going money on the classics, such as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Beauty & the Beast in 3D. That counts as a movie I haven’t seen before this year, right? Right…?

Related: Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden Review.

Easy A Review.

Sex & the City 2 Review.

The Expendables Review.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Is Easy A The Next Mean Girls?

[Jezebel] I Went to See Killers & It’s All Your Fault.

Smiling Assassin.

 

From “Sexist Beatdown: Revenge of The Smiler Edition” by Sady Stein on Tiger Beatdown:

“In adolescence, no-one is normal. That’s why it’s adolescence, for fuck’s sake. The girl who can pull off ‘normal’ the most convincingly is usually the girl who’s best at lying. And all too often, she is The Smiler. The Smiler is nice. The Smiler is pretty. The Smiler is popular, but not too popular; she’s just normal folks, you know? The Smiler is good in school and her teachers love her, but she’s not the valedictorian. The Smiler is in show choir and is cast in all the theatre productions, and she makes sure of her position by purposefully fucking with people’s heads and making them cry during auditions with ‘helpful advice’ about how nobody likes them and they should leave to make people happy, but she’s smiling. (Actual true story.) The Smiler is a respected youth group leader, a pillar of her community, and she tells the girl who’s been abused by her boyfriend that it wouldn’t have happened if she hadn’t presented herself so provocatively, but she promises that Jesus can make it better, and she’s smiling. (Also actual true story.) Sometimes, the Smiler is so good at what she does that the Smiler is your friend: Talk to the Smiler! Hang out with the Smiler! The Smiler only wants to help! Tell the Smiler your troubles—your many secret troubles that no-one knows about because you’d prefer to keep them private! But surely you can trust the Smiler? Except that two weeks later, everybody somehow knows a distorted Grand Guignol disastrous version of exactly what you told the Smiler, and your life is effectively over until college. (I was home-schooled.)

“… What I feel is that I am hanging out with the youth group leader/glee club star/all-around nice girl who also spreads a rumour about how you went to third base with Derek and are a total skank.”

Sounds a lot like Amanda Bynes’ character in Easy A, don’t you think?

Related: Easy A Review.

Elsewhere: [Tiger Beatdown] Sexist Beatdown: Revenge of The Smiler Edition.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

“A Guide to Eating Food Off the Floor.”

Feminist Themes’ regular “Wait… What?” column features The View co-host, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, and her take on the pro-choice versus pro-life debate.

In The Atlantic’s thought provoking piece on “The End of White America?”, Hua Hsu “discuss[es] Obama, football, hip-hop, and the elusive notion of a ‘post-racial’ society.”

Pandagon responds to Susan Faludi’s piece on third-wave feminism (which I haven’t read yet, but expect it to be included in an upcoming On the [Rest of the] Net), in which “she puts out evidence that younger feminists are sometimes unfair and ungrateful to older feminists, and that older feminists are sometimes so afraid of younger women that they go out of their way to exclude them… complaining that younger women don’t care.” Furthermore:

“… she reinforces a jumble of often conflicting stereotypes on younger feminists to discredit us: that we’re obsessed with navel-gazing over activism, that our obsession with technology comes at the expense of actual work, that we don’t know our history and don’t care about systemic issues, that we’re materialist[ic] and unwilling to challenge sexual exploitation for fear of pissing off men, that we’re so busy cultivating our graduate degrees writing about Lady Gaga… that we can’t be bothered to worry about real world issues.”

I do agree with some of this summary of Faludi’s piece, but Lady Gaga’s meat dress drew attention to vegetarianism, animal welfare and gay rights. They’re, like, real world issues, aren’t they?

Liz Greene delivers some particularly poignant points on parental relationships and “the family triangle” in “The Eternal Triangle”.

Buffy is “The Third Wave’s Final Girl”.

Jezebel reasons “Why Glee Still Needs to Work on Diversity”, while Brittany and Santana are “Queer Idols”:

“It wasn’t even until halfway through Glee’s first season that the first hint of queerness was even mentioned… Maybe you’d call it bisexual, maybe you’d call it heteroflexible, maybe you’d call it bicurious: whatever they are, it’s definitely a bit queer… Brittany is, if you will, an equal opportunity slut: one who’s willing to make out with whatever hotness crosses her path, regardless of gender… And among fellow fans of the show, my designation of Brittany and Santana as queer icons has met with some derision: their relationship is played for laughs, I’ve been told. They’re just straight girls making out for male attention… [But]… with the exception of their joint date with Finn, Brittany and Santana have hardly been shown using their relationship to win over boys… For me, Brittany and Santana represent a new mode of queer figure… : fluidly sexual, comfortable with same sex contacts, and more interested in finding happiness than finding the right label. They may not fit into the rigid structures of traditional sexual identities, but they’re comfortable enough with themselves not to care.”

More Jezebel: They’ve really been getting on the “slut-shaming bandwagon”, especially with their endorsement of Easy A. Now, they give their take on the “Ancient Slut-Shaming” of Cleopatra, as well as the “sexual double standards” on Jersey Shore. About the latter, they say:

“… The slut-shaming of Angelina… revealed their thoughts on sexual double standards. (The ‘thoughts’ being that sexual double standards exist, and that’s just the way it is.)… Pauly said about Angelina: ‘She brought all these random people home. She’s a girl. You don’t do that. That’s a guy thing. Guy’s do that, no girls.’… Shouldn’t Pauly and The Situation be grateful for sluts? If there were no sluts then they would never be able to have sex. Do they think for one minute that they would even want to live in a world in which all girls acted the way they’re ‘supposed’ to?”

“Who Stole Feminism?”, asks The Nation. Sarah Palin, Christine O’Donnell and all those right-wing extremists, that’s who!

“Sarah Palin opposes abortion and comprehensive sex education. While mayor of Wasilla she made sexual assault victims pay for their own rape kits. She also calls herself a feminist. Delaware GOP Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell has said that allowing women to attend military academies ‘cripples the readiness of our defence’ and that wives should ‘graciously submit’ to their husbandsbut her website touts her ‘commitment to the women’s movement. Pundits who once mocked women’s rights activists as ugly bra burners are abuzz over the ‘new conservative feminism’, and the Tea Party is lauding itself as a women’s movement.

The right once disparaged feminism as man-hating and baby-killing, but now ‘feminist’ is the must-have label for women on the right.”

“Geeks Versus Hipsters” is the equivalent of the passionate versus the apathetic, respectively, according to Gizmodo. And from the hipsters I’ve come into contact with, I’m inclined to agree.

Can Newsanchor Barbie be both hot and a feminist?

Jessica Rudd (yes, Kevin’s daughter) discusses the differences between chick-lit and (the nonexistent) dick-lit in a guest post on MamaMia.

Beneath the “campy sensationalism” of True Blood lies “the weird, seemingly reactionary politics” of “the right’s worst nightmare about post-gay-liberation America come to life.”

Event: Girls Night In.

Saturday night marked my first foray into hosting a charity event and, armed with “authority to fundraise”, lots of chocolate, and some choice DVDs, myself, my housemate and a bunch of girlfriends were ready to (fund)raise the roof.

I had never heard of Can’t Buy Me Love until Easy A, a retro flick starring a young (and completely different-looking) Patrick Dempsey which is heavily referenced in the modern retelling of The Scarlet Letter, along with other teen classics. But, it is worthy of its cult status, was hilariously illustrative of the times, and was the perfect movie to begin the night with.

Next up, we broke out Now & Then, which my cousin had never seen, so it was nice to pass on a coming-of-age tale that my sister and I used to watch almost every weekend during our childhood. Everyone else had seen it though, and we enjoyed quoting lines (“It’s not very big.” “It’s only big when a guy gets a hard on.” “What’s a hard on?” “Doesn’t your mother tell you anything?” “I’m beginning to think she’s been misinformed.”) and getting our nostalgia on.

By this point, one friend had to leave as the uni textbooks were beckoning, but she missed out on the apparent appeal of Patrick Verona in 10 Things I Hate About You (I never was a Heath Ledger fan). It’s been a while since I’ve seen this flick, but it was every bit as good as I remember it to be. Love the quintessential late ’90s outfits and feminist quips from Julia Styles’ Kat Stratford, and the film always makes me want to sit around the house reading like she does. Oh wait, I already do that!

After the third film, it was nearing the end of the night, but one guest a law student, no less had never seen Legally Blonde, so we had to break it out and have the event go into overtime or risk blasphemy against one of my all-time favourite characters, Elle Woods. It was during this film that we got a little stereotypical, and starting braiding each others hair!

All in all, a Girls Night In was a great excuse to eat junk food, have a movie night and raise money for the Cancer Council. And surpassing my fundraising goal was just a bonus. Will definitely be organising a Girls Night In next year, in conjunction with the “cruise director on the lido deck”.

Related: Easy A Review.

Women in Fiction: My Favourite Fictional Females.

Movie Review: Easy A.

 

As with a lot of things lately, I’ve hyped them up in my mind so much that when they actually eventuate, they’re a let down.

Some such things that come to mind are a recent work training seminar (can’t give too much information away as it is top secret ;)), the Britney Spears episode of Glee, and Easy A.

Don’t get me wrong, I thought it was a really good movie; Emma Stone is a fantastic actress, Stanley Tucci played the dad (I want a dad like Stanley Tucci!), Gossip Girl’s Pen Badgley played the gorgeously mellow love interest Todd, and it dealt with slut shaming, sex, lies and gossip.

But I felt that some of the actors could have toned their performances down a notch. The always over-the-top Lisa Kudrow played the guidance counsellor who was married to Olive’s (Stone) favourite teacher, but *spoiler alert* cheating on him with a member of the high school’s religious clique. Amanda Bynes was the school bitch and president of said church group and, quite frankly, I find it hard to take her seriously as an actress after seeing an episode of The Amanda Show. And while I do love Tucci, he could have toned down the camp-quality he tends to have in moviesespecially as he was playing the straight father.

Other than that, the film was very smart, funny and highlighted the dark undertones that high school can have.

The premise of Easy A is that Olive Penderghast feels sorry for her gay best friend, *again, spoiler alert* so she agrees to fake sleep with him he will stop being ridiculed by the lynch mobs that are his fellow high school students. What Olive doesn’t bargain for, however, is that she’s labelled the school slut, and boys start paying her money to say they had sex. When her female bestie turns on her, Olive takes to sewing a red “A” on all her clothing, à la The Scarlet Letter, which Easy A is loosely based on“but not the Demi Moore film version”.

Without giving too much more away, Easy A has a certain Mean Girls quality to it, and also harkens back to the teen movies of the ’80s, like The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles, which appear in a montage at the end of the film.

And Badgley is more likeable here than he is in Gossip Girl, and in a funny twist, the first time Olive “didn’t and said she did” kiss a boy in the eighth grade, she did it to boost Todd’s social standing. Unlike in most teen movies, where the girl/guy does something shady and spends the rest of the movie trying to win back their guy/girl love interest, *final spoiler alert* Todd stands by Olive through her tenure as faux slutty liar, because he knows she did it with good intentions in mind.

Related: The Underlying Message in Glee‘s “Britney/Brittany” Episode.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Easy A Tackles Slut-Shaming, Gossip & What We Expect From Girls Now.

[Jezebel] Is Easy A the New Mean Girls?