Husband went out of town yesterday and I took advantage of the situation to watch The Ugly Truth. That Katherine Hiegel movie about men who are pigs?
Yeah. It’s about what you expect. But I started thinking about how many women are control freaks in this kind of movie. And if you think about the dynamic of these movies, it’s a Taming of the Shrew dynamic – the guy that gets her to let her hair down and not worry quite so much is the one that wins her in the end. Movies about men rarely involve cute obsessive tendencies and control-freakness. Movies about men – anything by Judd Apatow, for example, involves a man who wanders around the house naked or doesn’t have a job. The man is tamed in the opposite way – he gets his act together for the movie.
Is there something about control freak women that is somehow sexy? Or is it just a matter of the idea that a successful woman must be incredibly flawed to be able to get anywhere in business? Or just that control freaks aren’t sexy, so inevitably they will be portreyed as pathetic, loveless fools who must be rescued by a man? Also, this formula is pretty old, because all of my favorite Doris Day movies start with her character as a control freak with “bedroom problems”, so maybe we need a new script.
You know who one of my favorite actresses is? Sandra Bullock. I think it’s because she doesn’t play the control freak. Well, I hear she did in the Proposal. But if you look at the really good Sandra Bullock classics out there, you’ve got While You Were Sleeping, in which she plays a family-less dreamer working at the MTA, and Practical Magic, in which she plays a witch, and is awesome. 28 Days and Miss Congeniality both start off with her as a total mess, in one way or another. Annoyingly, in Miss Congeniality, she winds up getting fixed up. In 28 Days, she mostly fixes herself, with a hapless crew of misfits.
I genuinely like chick flicks, but is it just me, or are they getting worse and worse? I can identify with Lucy from While You Were Sleeping. She has dreams, but she’s kind of a mess. I can’t identify with well, anyone Katherine Heigel has every played. Those women are extremely organized and ambitious and successful. (And uh, young, but that’s pretty much a given.)
So I guess the real question is: how do we make it stop? How do we convince people to write female characters that actually feel real? Maybe a woman in her late twenties or early thirties who is a midlevel employee at a large company where she works in a cubicle and feels a little lost finally meets the man of her dreams and his love reminds her that she is really quite awesome and she leaves her sad little company, starts her own business, and takes over the world? Somewhere along the way, they will of course get into a big fight and split up, and then one of them will make a publicly humiliating romantic gesture that wins the other one over. You know if you watched it, you wouldn’t hate it quite as much as those other chick flicks.
Does this movie exist? Please tell me about it. (Thinking about it, Sunshine Cleaning is actually pretty close, and is really good. Go rent it.) Also, please point me in the direction of other fun romantic comedies that do not involve main characters who are morons.