Movies: The Change-Up Does Nothing to Change Stereotypes.

 

Remember when Katherine Heigl bit the hand that fed her and criticised Knocked-Up for being sexist and perpetuating women/wives-as-shrews stereotypes? Where was Leslie Mann, who played Heigl’s sister in the movie, and is director Judd Apatow’s wife, during all this?

Certainly she didn’t take Heigl’s valid-but-ill-received criticisms of the 2007 runaway hit to heart, as she is basically playing the exact same character in The Change-Up: shrewish, run-off-her-feet with three children and a seemingly successful job (she discusses something in the vein of building planning, so perhaps she’s an architect? What does it matter, right?), and stuck in an unhappy marriage in which her husband doesn’t find her attractive.

And what about Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds’ characters? Reynolds, playing man-child Mitch Planko, is a loser stoner who only peels himself off the couch to score 9-months-pregnant women, a job in a soft-core porno, and weed.

Bateman’s Dave Lockwood, on the other hand, is a successful lawyer who’s been with the same woman for 18 years and no matter how much he accumulates, he’s never happy.

The only other woman in the film with more than a few lines and a tit-shot is Sabrina, played by Olivia Wilde. If Mann’s Jamie is the overworked and undersexed Madonna, Sabrina is the work-hard, play-hard whore. She espouses clichés like “I prefer to be sexually harassed in my private life,” or something to that effect. Way to stand up for women’s rights there!

There was one redeeming quality to the film, if you look really hard. Jamie makes an astute observation about women and marriage, and is somewhat representative of a lot of women in long-term relationships or marriages who no longer feel loved or desired by their husbands, who are taken for granted and who are run off their feet with 2.5 kids and a job (although Dave helps to break the stereotype of absentee father who doesn’t engage with his kids). But this also does a disservice to other kinds of wives and mothers and families, who don’t have rich husbands and live in a mansion, by all accounts.

Oh, and the unrealistically pert breasts of a breastfeeding mother of three and the ass of a 17-year-old on a lady pushing 40 don’t do much to help real women, either.

Related: The Taboos of Sexual Harassment.

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] These Are the Un-Retouched, Un-Fake Breasts of a 33-Year Woman Who Has Breastfed Two Babies.

Image via YouTube.

Movies: Cowboys VS. Aliens & Indians… Does it Really Matter? They’re All the Same Anyway, According to the New Movie.

 

Yesterday I wrote that I was sick of seemingly every new release movie these days incorporating aliens into their plotlines, none more so than the latest Jon Favreau effort, Cowboys & Aliens, starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde.

I have no interest in seeing the film. Super 8, Thor and Green Lantern have taken up my alien quota for the year. So I can’t comment fully on the nature of the representation of Native Americans in Cowboys & Aliens, but I think the title and the trailer tell me pretty much all I need to know. I also did some sneaky spoiler reading, so I’ll put up *spoiler alert* where applicable.

Being of Native American heritage myself, my initial viewing of the trailer grated on me. Taking the place of “Indians” in the Western genre were “aliens”—other—, which Indigenous peoples have been seen as for centuries. At ComicCon, the creators and stars of the film defended it, saying that both are genres that have been “done to death”.

I wondered if I was the only one who read it this way, and came across this brilliant article from Ms. Magazine, which asserts that the aliens and the Indians are seen as “them”, versus “us”: the white male main characters of the film, Craig’s Jake Lonergan and Ford’s Colonel Woodrow Dollarhyde. Cowboys & Aliens goes on to further stereotype the members of the Apache tribe featured in the film into categories: “the good Native”, the “savage warrior” and the “exotic” “Indian princess”, played by Wilde.

Wilde’s Ella Swenson is revealed to not be of Native American heritage, but *SPOILER ALERT* descendent from the other “others” in the film. Further to the assertion that people who aren’t white are interchangeable, Swenson is still characterised as “exotic” and not from the world of Lonergan and Dollarhyde. They’re all the same right?

After all, the central premise of the movie is that the whites have already raped and pillaged the Native people of the land, so they need a new enemy. Why not do the same to the invaders?

I’d be interested to know what others’ think of the depictions of race (the Ms. article points out that given the film is set in Arizona, there is an absence of Latino characters), come Cowboys & Aliens’ release date in Australia on Thursday.

Related: Green Lantern Review.

Super 8 Review.

Thor Review.

Elsewhere: [Ms Magazine] White Cowboys & Alien Indians.

Images via IMDb.