Movies: Male Body Image in Captain America.

Captain America begins with the runty little Steve Rogers getting knocked back again and again for army enlistment because of his size. The CGI was done so well that a lot of people commented that they didn’t even know it was Chris Evans’ head seemingly Photoshopped onto a scrawny body.

It’s hard to rectify the pre-Captain America Rogers with the post-Stanley Tucci experiment Captain America. Evans looked so odd for the first half an hour or so, which is a far cry from the other films we’ve seen him in: Not Another Teen Movie and Fantastic Four, where he was predominantly shirtless and acting like an arrogant douchebag.

And as much as I preach that looks don’t matter, once I’d seen CGI-Chris Evans, I could not get that image out of my head!

It seems Peggy Carter had no problem forgetting Rogers’ humble beginnings, though. Carter had only a short interaction with Rogers before he became a muscle-bound superhero, and only began to show interest in him after the fact. Granted, five minutes of conversation, which Rogers admits is the longest amount of time he’s ever spoken to a woman for, isn’t enough to get to know anyone. But the look in Carter’s eyes was noticeably different after he emerged from the super-soldier machine (lust, awe), than before he went into it (pity).

If we want to send the message that women should be valued for more than just what they look like, shouldn’t we be sending the same one about men? Indeed, all people should be assessed based on what they offer the world and the people around them besides eye candy.

Sure, the reason Rogers was allowed to enter the military after the experiment is because his physical capabilities were enhanced. Fair’s fair. But it seems Carter fell in love with the man behind the Captain America mask; the exact same man Rogers was before the experiment. The man Dr. Erskine chose for the experiment because of these traits. The baby blue eyes and the muscles just enhanced that.

I’m not going to pretend that physical attraction doesn’t matter; it does. But psychological attraction is the connection that will stand the test of time.

Anyone will tell you that the archetype of the comic book nerd identifies with superheroes because they’re usually the underdog. People walk all over them, not recognising them for who they are until they get a magic ring, or bitten by a spider, or made into a super-human in an experiment and can show the world what they’re made of.

But why do they have to undergo a physical transformation for these traits to be acknowledged? If comic book heroes teach us anything, it’s that courage comes from within. Captain America certainly teaches us that. If only Hollywood adopted this strategy, too.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Captain America Review.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Will Boys Be Boys When it Comes to Objectifying Women?

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] Male Models. Inside Their Straaange World.

Images via IMDb.

Movie Review: Burlesque.

 

“Did you notice the mistake in that movie?” my friend Sallie asked me as we left the cinema.

“The only mistake in that movie was Christina Aguilera’s acting,” I replied.

I went into Burlesque expecting three things: acting so bad it hurt, quality musical numbers and Aguilera’s ’90s strawberry blonde ’do to be cut off once her character made the big time. Well, two out of three ain’t bad. (For those of you who haven’t yet seen the film, the latter point is the one that remains.)

The movie starts out with country Christina (Ali) quitting her job in a bar on a whim, and moving to the big smoke. She notices a burlesque bar one night on a walk through the city; “the best view on the Sunset Strip without any windows”. After seeing the girls perform a number, with Cher at the helm as club owner Tess, Ali begs Tess for a job onstage, but settles for working under bartender Jack (literally; but as if we couldn’t see that coming!) as a waitress.

When the alcoholic star of the show, Nikki, played by Kristen Bell, fails to turn up, Ali takes her place. Nikki is so incensed that she interferes with the music for the set, forcing Ali to use her spectacular voice—which previously no one had heard—to save the performance. Tess then begins to build her burlesque show around Ali.

This is where the film starts to get bearable, as we see more of Christina Aguilera in all her ’40s pin-up/voice-that-brings-down-the-house glory, and less of mousy, weak, annoying Ali.

There are some pretty good musical numbers in the film (a 2011 Golden Globe for Best Original Song doesn’t lie), my favourites being a dance-off between Nikki and Juliannne Hough to “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” and one of the only legitimate “burlesque” performances in the film, “Guy What Takes His Time”, where pearls and feather fans are used as props.

Really, though, the only things that saved this movie were Christina’s performances, Eric Dane’s face, Stanley Tucci in general, and Cam Gigandet’s cookie box scene. Google it.

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?