Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I was waiting for Damages to come on last night and The Devil Wears Prada was on FX.  I've seen it.  Don't laugh.  But something always irked me about the movie.  It's supposed to be about a young woman who decides to forgo her boss's cutthroat ways to prove that a woman can make it without having to act like a psycho.  Seems pretty straight forward.  But I want you to take all the roles and reverse the genders.

Meryl Streep's character is a ball busting woman who gets what she wants.  She's a little devious and very demanding.  However, had the character been played by a man, he would have been the hero of the movie.  Now take Anne Hathaway's character.  She's mousy and loyal with a bushy-eyebrowed boyfriend and preachy friends.  Over the course of the movie she does what she needs to to be great at her job.  And then she's punished for it.

Her friends judge her for missing her BF's bday party and for EGADS letting a man kiss her cheek, and then her boyfriend breaks up with her for doing her job.  If the genders were reversed, the woman would be expected to keep her mouth shut while the man worked hard to get to the top.

Then, the ending really got me.  Because after Anne H's character gives up the best job she'll ever have and grovels to her boyfriend, he announces that he's applied for and is taking his dream job in another city.  And she's all like, YAY!!!

In the end I'm not sure if this movie is supposed to be pro feminism or if it's supposed to demonize the working woman and sending her scurrying back to the kitchen.

It's one thing when women are sexualized and minimized by men, but when women do it to each other in movies aimed at women, it's frustrating.

Unfortunately, in this case, I think the devil was the one behind the camera.

Incoherent mini-rant over.


  1. Interesting point. Now I'm going to have to rewatch that movie and work that one out in my head.

    There are a lot of stories (I'm thinking movies like An Officer and a Gentleman and Top Gun) where I think it would be interesting to take a story such as this and reverse the roles to see what kind of story one would get.

  2. Heh heh, that's actually the problem I had with that film, too.

  3. Yep - it's called backlash. Good post.

  4. I haven't seen this but now I want to determine if I see the characters the same way (probably will). But movies like this is one reason I am wary of seeing films aimed at women. For example, He's Just Not That Into annoyed me to no end. I thought it was smart until the last 1/4 of the movie when it all became one huge cliche and cop-out. And movies that claim to push the envelope--like Mona Lisa Smile--often stop short and pander to the mainstream as well.

  5. Somewhat off topic. One of the things that intrigues me about the success of the Twilight books is how a lot of older women (read: not teens) seem to have little problem with the dynamics of the Edward-Bella relationship. If a book like that would have come out in the 70s, I think feminist leaders like Gloria Steinem would have pitched a fit, especially in light of the perceived influence the books have had on teens.

  6. Kat: Could you imagine that "You've Lost that Lovin' Feeling" scene being performed by a woman to one of the pilots? That'd be AWESOME.

    Sarah: I'm glad I'm not the only one.

    Andrea: Backlash against feminism? But it disturbs me that it's supposed to be a movie honoring women.

    Margie: Do you think the mainstream wants to keep women in traditional roles and perpetrate the idea that strong women are somehow lesser than their male couterparts?

    Paul: I fully agree. I always took the relationship in Twilight to be particularly abusive. Not only was Bella staying with this man who tells her over and over that he'll kill her, but Bella tells him that his violence isn't his fault. I think it tells impressionable young girls that so long as a a man doesn't mean to hurt her, that it's okay if he does.

  7. That's awesome because someone finally saw what I saw in that movie. When it was over, I turned to my husband, fire in my eyes, and said in a very snotty voice, "So she gets punished for trying to be good at her job? What a crock of --." I'll spare you the details, but it was one I vowed never to watch again.


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