Movie Review: Mirror Mirror*.

 

I’ll be honest: I didn’t have high hopes for Mirror Mirror, what could have been a fantastic feminist take (girl saves boy; a commentary on beauty) on the classic Snow White tale but ended up being an offensive Disney-esque been-there, done-that effort.

Actually, Mirror Mirror did incorporate some of the abovementioned themes, but not in the ways I would have liked.

Firstly, let’s start with beauty. As an older woman, Julia Roberts’ character, the Queen, believes the only way she’ll make an impression as an older woman on the newly discovered Prince Alcott (the delectable Armie Hammer) is to up the ante on her beauty regime, which includes bees stinging her lips and bird poo being massaged into her face. This is not unlike what many women do on a regular basis, but I didn’t put two and two together until later in the film, when Snow White is about to kiss the Prince to break the puppy love-for-the-Queen spell he’s under. One of her seven dwarf-bandit comrades, Napoleon, thinks she needs a bit of sprucing up before her first kiss. The message here is not only that, clearly, older women need to do more to their bodies and faces in order to compete with younger women and stay relevant, but that something along those lines also applies to younger women. If you’re engaging in intimate acts with a member of the opposite sex, you need to look and act a certain way. It seeks to cement the notion that beauty is the main virtue a woman can have. If she doesn’t have it, she’s deemed worthless. If she does, like Lily Collins’ Snow, she’s got to work even harder to maintain it and play it up.

This confining notion of beauty is also represented in the seven dwarves, who were banished from the village by the Queen for being “ugly” and “undesirable”. The film could have run with the whole non-able-bodied-people-being-excluded-from-everyday-able-bodied-society angle, but instead that was pretty much the last thing we heard about that.

There was a lot of emphasis on the Queen being “crazy” and “mad” because she clawed her way to the top and would do anything to stay there, including poisoning the Prince in order for him to fall in love with her. When Snow decides to run away from her castle prison and join the dwarves, and Prince Alcott discovers this he, too, calls her “crazy” and “mad”. So standing up for what you believe in, whether that is something that other people think is a noble pursuit or not, makes you crazy. Oh, clarification: this only applies if you’re female.

Because you won’t be taken seriously by your male nemesis if you deign to step outside the boundaries set for you by the patriarchy, don’t you know? When Prince Alcott is confronted with the militant Snow White, he refuses to “fight a girl”, much less one that also “throws like a girl” and whom he would kiss if she wasn’t trying to kill him. The Prince takes to spanking Snow with his sword as they engage in combat, which was a confusing amalgamation of offensiveness and sexiness. I mean, I wouldn’t say no to a spanking from Armie Hammer, but in a movie seemingly geared towards children with a superficial pro-heroine stance, I don’t think it was entirely appropriate nor crucial to the story.

Finally, let’s look at domestic violence and animal abuse. When the Prince is under the puppy love spell and captured by Snow and the dwarves for torture, he claims his “only pain is being absent from my wife[-to-be]”, who doesn’t treat him so well in the first place. That he’s essentially a dog in this scene makes a certain point about animal cruelty, I think: that no matter how badly you treat a dog, as man’s best friend, they’ll always come back to you. Much like battered-wife syndrome, wouldn’t you say?

On that, when one of the dwarves tries to claim that Prince Alcott is clearly in love with Snow, and another exclaims, “He tried to kill her today!” the defence is, “Of course! What do you think love is?” That kind of “love” is dubious at best.

And so was this movie.

*Blanket spoiler alert.

Image via YouTube, IMDb.

The Beautiful, Bigmouthed Backlash Against Katherine Heigl & Megan Fox.

 

Recently, there has been a bit of a backlash against Megan Fox, whothe consensus seems to beshould keep her mouth shut and be grateful for her break in Transformers. Much the same could be said about Katherine Heigl, who left Grey’s Anatomy amidst a storm of controversy earlier this year, when she complained about 17 hour days, which were allegedly scheduled around her movie filming and new mum timetable.

New York magazine went as far to give a “definitive… analysis” on both women, and whether their stock in Hollywood amounts to “buy, sell or hold.”

While Heigl managed to escape with a “hold” verdict, due to her ability to “get a project green-lit just by signing on” (the other four actresses in this category are Julia Roberts, Reese Witherspoon, Sandra Bullock and Angelina Jolie, out of which “Heigl is the only one who will work in a young romantic comedy”), Fox’s future is cloudy (“sell”).

I actually like both ladies, who also happen to be two of the most beautiful women on the planet. But apparently being beautiful and outspoken do not a feminist heroine make.

New York notes that some see Heigl as “refreshingly outspoken”. Others? “A headstrong, self-immolating, gaffe-spewing, headache-inducing diva freak.” Or, perhaps, she’s both?

She has stood up for her co-star T.R. Knight after fellow Grey’s Anatomy doc Isiah Washington dissed him with homophobic slurs. She also called her big-break film Knocked Up sexist, which I wholeheartedly agree with. Then there was the whole withdrawing-her-name-from-Emmy-contention debacle, due to insufficient storylines for her character, Izzie Stevens, on the show. Finally came her David Letterman rant about working seventeen hour days, and that the Grey’s producers should be “embarrassed”.

Some of these things perhaps weren’t the smartest, nor correct, things to say in the public arena, at the risk of coming off as a “diva freak”, but who the freak cares?! It takes a pretty gutsy woman to speak up about those kinds of things, as a lot of people would want to in any workplace; it just so happens that when Heigl does it, the world hears it.

Speaking of smart, Fox isn’t really known for espousing intelligent quid pro quos, but she is arguably Hollywood savvy, as “Fox’s appeal is all about simultaneously exaggerating her sexuality and then downplaying it as just Hollywood silliness.”

The exaggeration? Writhing around in denim cut-offs on a motorcycle in Transformers 2, girl-on-girl makeout sessions with Amanda Seyfried in Jennifer’s Body and lingerie ads, which is what she’s known for.

A recent Jezebel article asserts that “people really, really hate Megan Fox” (apparently, there’s a Tumblr hate-blog, “the description of which reads, ‘Fuck you, Megan Fox. No, really. Keep your trap shut’”) purely for the fact that she’s outspoken. (I’m a goner, then!)

When she criticised Transformers director Michael Bay for being a sexist “jerk”, he laughed it off, and this exchange of words carried on for the good part of a year, until she was let go from the franchise in May.

But in dismissing her from Transformers 3 and casting Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as her replacement (who’s “most notable acting role was as “Woman in Underpants” in Michael Bay’s own Victoria’s Secret commercial”), this should give Fox “a sense of how she’s viewed”, by Bay, at least.

This is further reiterated by the fact that Bay allegedly made her wash is car in her bikini in place of an audition (casting couch, much?), to which Jezebel says:

“Which she should apparently be really, really grateful for, since whenever people talk about her, they like to throw in the ‘don’t bite the hand that feeds you’ admonishment. To which I say, what if that hand is also trying to grab your ass?

(Perhaps she’s asking for it then, because of the way she looks? But that’s material for a whole different blog post.)

Unfortunately, though I think she’s awesome and has much more to offer, I see Fox going the way of so many sex-pots who are no longer relevant: Tara Reid, Carmen Electra, Denise Richards.

So it seems you can’t win either way. Either shut up, sit tight and look pretty. God forbid you speak your mind, as you run the risk of being labelled an outspoken, ungrateful harpy worthy of your own hate brigade.

Elsewhere: [Vulture] The Definitive Vulture Analysis of Divisive Rom-Com Queen Katherine Heigl.

[Vulture] What is Professional Provocateur Megan Fox’ Valuation in Hollywood?

[Jezebel] Women Who Want Attention.

[Musings of an Inappropriate Woman] Guest Post: Video, Consent & Kendra Wilkinson.