A wee little rant…

So, I was just skimming through Jim Emerson’s blog. Emerson is the editor of Roger Ebert’s site and a critic and film expert himself. I don’t always agree with him, but his blog is usually good for bringing up interesting ideas. I came upon this post, which led me to read this post on Jeffrey Wells’s “Hollywood Elsewhere” blog, which led me to want to crush someone’s skull. Let me sum up.

Wells is not so keen with the recent trend in the Apatow-and-company sorts of movies, in which regular-looking or even flat-out unattractive guys end up with hot chicks in the end. He thinks this is unrealistic, and he’s sick of it. Having just seen Forgetting Sarah Marshall, in which Jason Segel bounces between Kristen Bell and Mila Kunis, he’s nothing short of enraged. He goes so far as to say that “Ten years ago female moviegoers, I believe, would have totally rejected this. Twenty or thirty years ago mainstream audiences would have walked out of theatres in confusion (if not disgust) if guys who look like Rogen, Segel, Hill or Mintz-Plasse got the girl.” Frankly, Wells misses the male eye candy. He wants to see hunky guys get the girl.

Ok, over to Emerson’s blog, where he critques Wells. He writes: “So, Kristen Bell and Mila Kunis are too beautiful for Jason Segel and Katherine Heigl is too beautiful for Seth Rogen and Catherine Keener is too beautiful for Steve Carell. Is that really a serious movie problem? (Judd Apatow is married to Leslie Mann. All he’s doing is writing, producing, directing what he knows.) Why is Wells so upset? He sounds like a Dixieland racist spouting off about miscegenation in the 1950s.” And it’s not that I don’t think Emerson has a point. But clearly both of them are missing the real problem about this trend. It’s not a new problem, but it’s not something we should stop talking about, either.

Women are not allowed to be average-looking on screen, and men are.

That is why we can see the schlubby crew of Apatow movies (Paul Rudd OBVIOUSLY excepted, he being seriously cut, like, from marble, as we all know…) hook up with gorgeous females. These are the only females they could ever possibly be matched with. We’re talking big-budget Hollywood summer movies! You think a girl who is just as average-looking as Seth Rogen is going to fly in a romantic sex comedy trying to make $100 million? Nuh uh. Not gonna happen. Just because everyone already knows this doesn’t mean it’s not worth mentioning if you’re going to talk about these movies.

The only way to make a “realistic” match-up, appearance-league-wise, is to cast a traditionally hot guy. But you’re not suddenly going to be making a better movie if Paul Rudd is the one that gets the hottie instead of another of the pack (leaving aside the fact that I wouldn’t exactly throw a drink in Jason Segel’s face if he hit on me in a bar…). However, you MIGHT be making a better movie if the female characters were allowed to be funny and kooky and normal in the way that the male characters are. Remember a few months ago when Katherine Heigl got in trouble with the press for calling Knocked Up sexist? But, um, as much as we all love to love that movie, myself included, how exactly was she wrong? Her character was meant to be unattainable, but not because she was so smart or funny or successful. Just because she was beautiful. Maybe once female characters get to have their basis in personality rather than appearance, the playing field in these movies could be a bit more level. We can start with a hot chick who also has a personality, and then move on from there. Diablo Cody, why don’t you give Judd Apatow a call?


3 Responses to “A wee little rant…”

  1. 1 patty April 9, 2008 at 11:05 am

    i’m ashamed to admit i’ve seen this… but even in stupid cinderella makeover movies like “she’s all that” (*shudder*), the ugly girl is still really hot! they just put glasses on the girl, and the audience is supposed to believe that she’s unattractive and awkward? it’s insulting. the exception to any of these though is any paris hilton movie.

  2. 2 Becca April 9, 2008 at 11:58 am

    How is Seth Rogen and Jason Segel getting hotties like Katherine Heigl and Mila Kunis any different than Bob Hope’s nose and Bing Crosby’s ears competing for Dorothy Lamour in the “Road” movies? The assumption that only the Cary Grants and Rock Hudsons got the girl is reactionary revisionist film criticism, and frankly pretty useless.

    I’m with Brandi, though: if either Bob or Bing happened to hit on me in some kind of time-vortex bar where we were all the same age and alive, I wouldn’t protest. Hollywood knows that not conventionally handsome does not necessarily mean not attractive. They just have to learn to apply that standard to women, too.

  3. 3 Brandi April 9, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Ugh, and you know how I feel about revisionist film theory and the “good ole days” mentality–so useless. Plus, this Wells guy uses examples like Clark Gable as the handsomest evaaarrr…sorry, but Gable is not a particularly remarkable man, with his stick-out ears and mousy features. Charisma is what made him a star, just like charisma is what made even ridiculously good-looking men like Robert Redford stars. The difference is that for guys to make it in film, looks are not enough, you need that other factor; but for women, looks are often ALL that matters (see: Jessica fricking Alba).

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