You know what there aren’t a lot of?

Female movie reviewers.

I admit to a certain fondness for reading movie reviews, especially for movies I may never see.  I’m an unabashed fan of Roger Ebert’s, and generally appreciate his insights.  That being said, however, I predicted that his first words on the "Sex and the City" movie would be something to the effect of, "I’m not the target market for this movie."

Bingo .

Curious, I scanned the Google roundup page for reviews of the movie.  It seems that there’s a definite gender split between the men and women – women mostly appreciating the movie for all the things the show brought us: witty dialogue, a return visit to characters we had grown to love, and a hefty dollop of high-fashion wish-fulfillment.  The men mostly found it shallow (that word shows up a lot) and admitted that since they hadn’t been viewers of the show, they weren’t privy to the back story.  I may be reading too much into the reviews I have read, but there seems to be a sense of unease in those writers – the sense that manliness has had to take its fingers out of its ears and stop singing, "Lalalalala – I don’t hear you!!" and listen to girly stuff that might… Do Something to them.  I don’t know what, exactly: make bits fall off?

Should I mention that I am the target market for this movie?  Need I mention that I have watched every episode of the series (and on afternoons, home with flu and feeling low, watched again) and enjoyed the series through its ups and downs, its storytelling strengths and weaknesses, the outfits I wouldn’t be caught dead in, and its nuanced and touching portrayals of female friendships?  I don’t know.  I do know the constant obsessions with shoes and labels always seemed to be more of a running joke in the series than anything else, and yet that is what is deemed "shallow" by so many critics.

So, let’s review.  Shoes/fashion: shallow.  Cars/guns/robots/spaceships: serious.  Besides, what is meant by the label "shallow"?  You could also possibly describe these same things as "light" or "entertaining."  But those are positive adjectives – ones that the reviewer might use to say, "Hey – go see it.  It’s fun!"  Instead, we get an adjective that says, "Save your money – this is unserious content, unworthy of your notice or money."

Shallow implies waste.  And waste implies guilt.  And woe be to you who enjoy such frivolity.

My friend Jacob has gone to town on the term "guilty pleasure" and excoriates it in a way that I have been chewing on ever since I first read it:

I hate that phrase "guilty pleasure" more than anything, because it’s a contradiction in terms and seems really self-hating and self-defeating to me, but more than that, I think the one thing you will always get crapped on for is honestly loving — much less rigorously reading — something that’s so heavily feminized, because to be blunt, we devalue women’s experience.

Yes.  Yes, we do.  Women will never be criticized for enjoying a "Die Hard" movie (heck, the first one has Alan Rickman in it – who am I to cavil at enjoying that?), but the term "chick flick" is a derogatory one, and not one a man wants to be associated with.  It’s a hoary cliche, and it’s frustrating.

So we’re back to the split: the ones who enjoy are women.  The ones who don’t are men.  And unfortunately, it seems that there are a lot more men who get paid to watch and opine than women (need I wait while you recover from your shock?).  Do the male reviewers have to like it?  Heck no – I don’t know if I will like it.  But the tediously predictable reasons for why they don’t like it is disturbing, and it saddens me.

As for me, I haven’t seen the movie yet (see here for why).  Will I?  Pass the popcorn.

Comments

  1. I love the way you point up the shallow vs light distinction – spot on. There is a difference between them, but in common usage, girly = shallow. And of course it’s very true that there are hardly any female reviewers, which doesn’t help.

    I used to do reviews myself. (I was the de facto film editor for City Press – which might be a lot more impressive if it weren’t that CP had absolutely no interest in films At All, so I got the gig by default, and wasn’t paid for it.) I remember the screening for Bring It On – you know, cheerleaders? *Brilliant* movie, such fun. But deeply – oh yes – “shallow”. I remember all the reviewers leaving afterwards, sheepishly looking at each other and saying… “Um… I really liked that! I feel dirty!” I think all the published reviews were positive, but in a very guilty way. It deserved better.

  2. http://Jill%20 says

    Thanks. And I always get a little thrill when guys do appreciate a movie that has a female viewpoint. After my grandmother died, John asked me what I wanted to do. I was emotionally wrung, and all I wanted to do was to laugh (or at least not cry) for a couple of hours. We went to see “Bridget Jones’ Diary,” and I lost myself in laughter. As we were leaving lots of teenagers on dates were going in and out (it was a Friday night at a relatively new megaplex), and one teenager on his way out greeted another who inquired what he had just seen.

    “Bridget Jones, dude – it ROCKED.”

    I got one more laugh at a time I sorely needed it.

  3. I liked the first and third Bring It On s more than the second. I hear there’s going to be a fourth. I’ve never seen Sex and the City and never particularly wanted to, so I probably won’t see the movie, either.

    Marilee J. Laymans last blog post..Worldweavers: The Gift of the Unmage by Alma Alexander

  4. I had no idea that Alan Rickman was in Die Hard. I’m going to have to check it out!

    Harriets last blog post..All’s fair

  5. I am also irritated by the assumption that if one is part of the target audience one is de facto a fan of the movie. I am part of the target audience for Sex and the City and have no interest in seeing it (never have watched the show, not my cup of tea). The implication that somehow all women will be interested in seeing a “chick flick” is insulting.

    Maries last blog post..I’m It

  6. AMEN Jill! I read his review this morning and couldn’t believe how he ripped that movie apart. I loved it. It was so nice to see the show come to a proper close. :) I know you’ll like it too.

    Melissa (Meliabella)s last blog post..A Child-Free Evening…