Women Continue to Flock to Hollywood’s Female-Hating Chick Flicks

“No, if he punches you in the face he is not that into you.”
Photo: New Line Cinema

Peter Travers at Rolling Stone opened his review of He’s Just Not That Into You saying:

Are women desperate or just desperately stupid? This is the misogynist question at the core of He’s Just Not That Into You, a women-bashing tract disguised as a chick flick. I mean really, will women actually line up this weekend to see themselves treated as pawns in a man’s stupid game? I hope not.

Sorry Peter, but they did. As a matter of fact they lined up in droves and earned the film the #1 spot at the weekend box-office and an estimated $27.4 million despite several horrible reviews and what seems to be a growing hatred for today’s female driven features, or chick flicks as we have all come to know them.

Take this barb delivered by Sara Vilkomerson at the N.Y. Observer:

How can I explain the feeling of rage that had me white-knuckling my armrest by the end of He’s Just Not That Into You? Unlike the best of romantic comedies — the ones that send you swooning home with thoughts of first kisses and your own private montage of slo-mo paint fights in your first shared apartment, chasing lobsters or dragging a Christmas tree down a West Village cobblestoned street — this movie honestly made me never want to date again. It kind of made me not want to be a woman! Actually, it made me not want to be a member of the human race.


And then there is Manohla Dargis at the New York Times who wrote a review that is far kinder than I think she intended it to be, but she doesn’t dance around the good and bad with one ‘graph:

The movie He’s Just Not That Into You, directed by Ken Kwapis and written by Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, takes this bit from a 30-minute show and turns it into an overextended 2 hours and 12 minutes. Mostly it does this by turning Gigi simultaneously into a joke (by playing her desperation for laughs) and a victim (by playing her desperation for tears). It’s a grotesque representation of female desire, one that the appealing Ms. Goodwin can’t save from caricature. It says something about the romantic comedies coming out of Hollywood that the character Ms. Goodwin plays on the HBO series “Big Love,” the youngest wife in a polygamous Mormon marriage, is treated with far more dignity than Gigi.

Tom Long at the Detroit News delivers a final message to the ladies in the audience with a statement all women should read:

The saddest thing about this film, coming on the heels of the deplorable Bride Wars, is it continues the trend of supposed chick flicks that treat women as complete morons. Ladies, you’re better than this. Way better.

It isn’t anything new to see people bashing the current string of stupidity aimed at female audiences from Hollywood studios recently, but it seems to be coming to a head as several seem to believe the trio of high profile chick flicks kicking off 2009 are the root of all evil. Kevin Maher at the Times is already sharpening his knife’s edge for Isla Fisher’s upcoming Confessions of a Shopaholic saying, “Movies such as the recent Anne Hathaway/Kate Hudson catfight Bride Wars or the forthcoming Confessions of a Shopaholic are aimed exclusively at women, and yet feature female characters who are variously neurotic, idiotic, label-obsessed, weight-obsessed, man-obsessed or wedding obsessed, and often all at the same time.”

Amelia Hill at the Guardian has also written a similar piece including a couple of duplicate sources who quotes Dr. Diane Purkiss, a professor at Oxford University, who has said Hollywood heroines are being increasingly portrayed as neurotic, idiotic and obsessed by men, weight and weddings and the latest slew of chick-flicks, including He’s Just Not That Into You and Confessions of a Shopaholic, fall prey to the “worst kind of regressive, pre-feminist stereotype of misogynistic cliché.”

“Oh wow, she’s so pretty. I want to be skinny, rich and in love like her!”
Photo: New Line Cinema

Strangely enough both pieces point to New Line’s Sex and the City as some sort of an exception… as if it were better than the others. I’m not sure why, considering it only focused on sex starved, wedding obsessed, neurotic middle-aged loons, but Archie Thomas, foreign correspondent for Variety magazine, tells Maher the continuing trend of portraying women as morons on screen may be coming to an end, “It happened before, to some extent, with the horror genre… The market can take only a certain amount of these types of movies. If you flood it with them the audience appetite is lessened. There is, ultimately, not that many Sex and the Citys to be had every year.”

Sorry, she is going to need to convince me with that argument considering the box-office dollars for He’s Just Not That Into You prove her wrong entirely. Not to mention this is the time of year these films are meant to exist. The quality starved months of January, February and March are where these types of films reign. Hallmark makes boatloads off Valentine’s Day and the box-office sees equal returns thanks to the wedding enthused female movie-going audience.

Melissa Silverstein, the founder of the company Women & Hollywood, chooses to play the blame game saying, “Fewer than 10 per cent of Hollywood films are written by women, and fewer than 6 per cent directed by women… So really what you are seeing is a white male version of women. And that is just unacceptable.” Unacceptable maybe, but you wouldn’t guess it based on the returns.

Maybe Melissa doesn’t know that if the women rejected such films and didn’t show up for them in the first place they wouldn’t be made. Both articles continue to point to films such as 27 Dresses which made $160 million worldwide on a $30 million budget, Made of Honor which made $105.9 million worldwide on a $40 million budget and despite how absolutely terrible Bride Wars was it has still earned an estimated $79.7 million at the box-office since its January 9 release on a $30 million budget. These kinds of movies won’t go away because women still show up to see them, and they drag their boyfriends and husbands with them which adds the price of one more ticket to the box-office return. Things may change when a woman looks at a movie preview and thinks to themselves, “Hey, I am more than just a neurotic, idiotic, label-obsessed, weight-obsessed, man-obsessed and wedding obsessed woman… What is wrong with those stupid women in those movies anyway?”

Then again, perhaps it’s just a vocal minority out there saying these films are portraying a stereotype and these films actually are portraying reality. I doubt that’s the case based on the women I know, and I think it’s safe to say there are a few people fed up of heading to the theaters to once again see a moron chase a man and the dream to get married only to fulfill what appears to be her #1 reason for living and get treated like dirt along the way.

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