Sunday, October 10, 2010

Easy A: Feminist Film Review



I was skeptical about a movie that had the word "Easy" in the title, but the protagonist's wit won me over, since it set her up as an interesting individual, rather than one of the stock Barbie Doll characters you find in most chick flicks (When in Rome, anyone?). So, here is my review of the movie.

In case you didn't watch the above trailer, let me tell you the premise: Olive (Emma Stone), a good but quiet and unnoticed girl, accidentally establishes a reputation as someone who sleeps around. At first she enjoys the attention, but pretty quickly she discovers that the men she's pretending to sleep with are the only ones profiting from this arrangement. While they become popular and get more dates, she only gets more solicitations for fake dates (and worse). This whole scenario is complicated by Marianne (Amanda Bynes), a Christian girl who makes it her goal in life to either save Olive or send her to Hell trying.

While the film loses a few feminist points by portraying religious people as zealots - the only religious people we see are Marianne and her equally judgmental father - it nevertheless produces an overall feminist-friendly feel. It accomplishes this end mostly through portraying the sexual double standard that hurts so many women, and it it earns extra points for providing examples of cruel behavior in men and women alike. After all, Olive's best friend is the one who gets the rumors started in the first place, and it doesn't take long for the friend to turn on her.

I'd also call this a pro-family film, in the sense that Olive has a good relationship with her parents. They trust her, and they're willing to stand up for her, but when they start worrying that something is going wrong they let her know that they're worried. Also, while it's a love interest who initially offers to help Olive out of the mess she's found herself in, Olive follows his offer by choosing to turn to her mother for advice. So there's no damsel-in-distress ending. Also, I want to point out that men aren't demonized in this film - there are several examples of very good men, along with examples of men who aren't trying to hurt people but nevertheless do.

Also, instead of portraying people who actually sleep around as the real culprits - which easily could have happened in a movie about a protagonist who is wrongly accused of doing something she didn't really do - the movie makes people who do sleep around seem sympathetic. For one, Olive's mother admits that before  meeting Olive's father she slept with a lot of people, which brings women who actually sleep around into the fold of people who are kind to Olive. Also, Olive comes to look and act like women who sleep around, and when the viewer sees how people mistreat her as a result of that reputation, it would be pretty difficult for the viewer not to feel sympathetic for anyone who is mistreated in those ways.

Now, one downside of the film is that it's set in a predominantly white, upper middle class location. It certainly doesn't address any racial or class issues. And that's a real drawback - the cast is mostly white. Almost surprisingly mostly white. And that drawback, along with the negative portrayal of religious people, hold it back quite a bit in terms of global feminist concerns.

However, as a retelling of The Scarlet Letter, this movie really hits the nail on the head. So, I'm gonna give it a B+ in terms of Feminist Friendly values.

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