The Image of Women in Chick Flicks

Another common derogatory theme seen in chick flicks is that in which women are made out to be stupid girls who are often cultural dupes. Instead of focusing on more pertinent issues in women's lives they display women as materialistic, self-centered, and unintelligent. "Dr Diane Purkiss, a feminist historian and fellow of Oxford University, has argued that over the past five decades the movie industry has made its female leads 'dumber and dumber'. She suggests that these cartoon protagonists are merely reflecting a decline in our own culture into one that, for women, is image-obsessed,'And the more oppressive they feel, the dumber these portrayals of women become'" (Reporter). Women are seen as becoming more and more interested in their image and are cultural dupes to society.

In the movie Confessions of a Shopaholic, this theme is prevalent. Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher) is a young woman who is addicted to shopping which puts her in major debt. Ms. Bloomwood is also seen as a ditsy cultural dupe, who only gains a job because her boss (who later becomes the man with whom she will have romantic relations) allows her to write articles about how to shop responsibly. Of course, Rebecca does well at this, until her true identity of having major debt is displayed. Only with the help of her friends does she overcome her addiction. Not only displaying Rebecca as an addict for shopping but also as a disty figure shows that women are only interested in their image and also lack intelligence. Clothing is only one of the addictions Hollywood uses to represent in a woman's life.
Weddings are a common theme in chick flicks. These films show women being image-obsessed on the big day, from fantasizing about the perfect man, to the perfect place and date, all the way down to what kind of flowers should be displayed. In the movie Bride Wars, two best friends (Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson) dream of being married in June at a specific hotel. They become rivals when their weddings become scheduled on the same day. Neither woman will move the date of their wedding to a different month; therefore the film is filled with both girls dealing horrid retaliations towards one another. Hollywood produces movies about Shopaholics and weddings in particular because they believe women will relate to this type of problem over others. This sets out a discourse that women are only interested in superficial materialistic things. "'Chick flicks' about weddings have become par for the course recently. The powers-that-be at the major studios apparently believe that all women care about is weddings. And, more to the point, they think that you will relate to the shallow, material Bridezillas this story presents. With two Oscar-nominated stars, 20th Century Fox could have chosen to make a smart, perceptive movie about issues women really care about. Instead, they made a movie where two young females are driven half-mad because they might not get to have their wedding at the 'right' location" (McGranaghan). Being a Bridezilla like Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson or a Shopaholic like Isla Fisher is a common theme in many chick flicks. Having women being portrayed in such a way "is like being told that the entire movie industry thinks you're [women] are stupid, credulous and naive; that a pair of artfully dangled shoes or a cute, plump baby is enough to distract you from the fact that the story-line has been recycled a hundred times before; that at the first chime of wedding bells, we start salivating over table decorations and party favors" (Ide).
Instead of dealing with real issues women face, themes like "workplace discrimination , childcare, reproductive rights, racism, domestic violence, homelessness, aging, human rights, sexual assault and living as LGBT," (Thompson 43), Hollywood instead displays women as having superficial problems. This also plays into the psychoanalytic process of the unconscious which is "created when a very young child's drives and instincts start to be disciplined by cultural rules and values" (Rose 110). As a female child one is taught that women are passive and should never be outspoken or seen as more intelligent than a superior male. We then see women being subject to these types of principals in chick flick movies where women are unintelligent and instead of being knowledgeable in things such economics, or the business world, women are knowledgeable in shoes and name brands. Hence why most jobs women are displayed working at in this genre of film are fashion magazines rather than as business women. This is seen in the movie Legally Blonde where Elle (Reese Witherspoon), a law student who gains the right to take on a big court case, isn't necessarily knowledge about laws but wins the case because of her knowledge on hair products (scene pictured on right).
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