Outside of the In-Crowd – The sad state of chick flicks

Courtney Enlow

Courtney Enlow

Every time I see a TV spot for He’s Just Not That Into You, my first thought is always “Dear god, there’s no way the women can be that sad and pathetic the whole movie, right?” My second thought is “I can’t be the only one who feels this way, right?” Then I get onto Facebook (the usual start-place for all my existential crises) and see the statuses, the countless statuses.

“Rose can’t wait for he’s just not that into you!”

“Blanche iS tHaT iNtO hE’s JuSt NoT tHaT iNtO yOu!” (Yes, I apparently have Facebook friends that learned how to type as 12 year old girls and assumed that was the proper way to express oneself.)

“Dorothy AHHHHHHH He’s Just Not That Into You tickets are on sale!” (At least this one capitalized properly, though she did totally shit on her predicate.)

I, obviously the Sophia, am blown away by my gender’s need to see things that portray them in an ill light. But I won’t make this my status. Because people think I’m mean enough as it is. But I can’t help it. Movies like this, and Bride Wars and Confessions of a Shopaholic, do this to me. So please, let me explain myself.

I am a lover of the good “chick flick.” In fact, I am hesitant to even call these movies by their accepted pop culture term as I believe they can be enjoyed by everyone. When Harry Met Sally, Sixteen Candles, Pretty In Pink, there’s many of them. Even when we get into the more single-gender films, like Bridget Jones’s Diary, I still think some guys probably like them without saying. Basically, everyone knows and loves these films. I would like to have a brief discussion regarding my favorite: While You Were Sleeping.

While You Were Sleeping is a movie no one really talks about anymore and is just lumped into the oeuvre of one Sandra Bullock. But I think that While You Were Sleeping should be the template for the modern “chick flick.” You have a woman (Lucy, played by Bullock) who is attracted to Peter Gallagher’s eyebrows (aren’t we all?) but is not desperately looking for a man or watching her biological clock (sidenote: I propose a moratorium on that term. I suggest “ovie decay”). She just has a crush that she really knows is going nowhere. So when Peter Gallagher’s eyebrows get knocked off a train platform, she saves the day. She jumps onto the train tracks and rolls him away from a coming el train.

That’s ballsy. Let’s see Isla Fisher do that in her horrible Pat Fields dresses and eight-inch stilettos.

After a bit of hilarity ensues, she then ends up with the family thinking she’s the fiance of Peter Gallagher. She does not manipulate them or trick them in any way, as is something that happens all too much in these movies. It’s just kind of a series of embarrassing events, and we the audience really feel for Lucy through all of this. Over time, Lucy, who wears only minimal makeup, jeans and over-sized sweaters throughout the whole movie, eventually realizes she is in love with the brother of Peter Gallagher’s eyebrows, Bill Pullman’s hair (aren’t we all?) and the two end up together because they’re right for each other. No scheming, no pathetic desperate attempts. Just a cute friendship that turns to love, the most hilariously real family scenes I’ve ever seen in any movie, and lots and lots of amazing hair and eyebrows.

I don’t understand why it seems like the majority of today’s movies geared towards women were written in a weekend by two or three men and made to portray women as catty, scheming, pathetic she-beasts with minds only set on men and babies, but I blame Sex and the City.

I’ve already stated my case against SATC, so I won’t bore you with it, but I believe that show to be the catalyst. Even in its best episodes, the fact is that the four main characters were still searching for men to fulfill them. And sure, Carrie would make some beautiful end-statement about how she doesn’t need a man when she has friends, New York or OMG SHOES, but the next episode she’d be right back where she started. And I stand by my summer point that if the show had been a statement about that, a woman’s mistakes or cases of history repeating itself, a statement about how sad these four women were, it would have been fine. But it wasn’t. It was this bastion of empowerment, this altar to sex and shoes and Samantha’s general tranniness. While I think Charlotte ultimately ended up being the most well-rounded character, even more so than Miranda, her goals all along were still HUSBAND BABY HUSBAND BABY I AM NOTHING WITHOUT THESE THINGS HUSBAND BABIES.

Once a temp was working in my office, this Russian model-type in her late 30s. The SATC movie was coming out that week and she asked if I was seeing it. I replied with a polite, “No, I don’t think so. I wasn’t a huge fan of the show.”

“Oh, you didn’t like it?” And then she pouted like she felt sorry for me.

“No, I enjoyed it, it just wasn’t really my thing. I watched it all the way through though.”

“You probably just didn’t understand it.”

Um, bitch what. What’s not to understand? What I didn’t understand was the pathetic need for some women to see their own well-being in the hands of men, or even worse, in fictional characters wearing ugly bridal head feathers.

But I didn’t say that. Because I know I’m in a minority. And I know people say things like “They’re just mindless fun movies. Don’t make too big a deal. Just have fun with them.”

But I can’t. These movies make me sadder than Sophie’s Choice. They fill me with this void, and all these questions with answers I’ll never know. I’ll never understand why some women think it’s fun to see a movie wherein best friends turn on each other and become evil hellspawns over a wedding. I’ll never understand why people haven’t had enough of Kate Hudson’s bullshit. I’ll never understand why this generation can’t have its Katherine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story. I’ll never understand why Patricia Fields is allowed to exist outside of a mental institution. I’ll never understand why Jennifer Aniston doesn’t quit playing the sympathy card and just come out and say “Angelina is a damn whore and Brad Pitt had a small dick.” I’ll never understand why, for that matter, Angelina is villified, Aniston is the old maid and Brad Pitt comes out clean. And I’ll never understand why, just why, there can’t be a movie geared towards women that doesn’t make women seem like the basest versions of themselves, or why the strongest female characters are now found in superhero movies.

*whew* I hadn’t taken a breath since paragraph two. What I’m saying is I’ll Netflix He’s Just Not That Into You.

Courtney Enlow is a writer living in Chicago and working as a corporate shill to pay the bills. You can contact her at courtney@hobotrashcan.com.

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