Just like the mother-fucking Flintstones…

This post on the new Tina Fey movie got me thinking a bit about a well-worn genre of films (and TV shows) that’s been undergoing a bit a renascence recently, the ugly/geeky/dweeb/unlikable guy gets the hot/desirable girl (or as like to think of them, the Flintstones genre).

The “golden” standard of these sort of films are those of Judd Apatow and his various friends. With Knocked Up being the most recent Apatow offering. Other recent films in this line, more or less, are Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Superbad, and (for a of the bit of high-class/award winning) Sideways. And, of course, many of the films of Kevin Smith.

These films, from the good ones to the bad ones, all offer a very skewed version of relations between the sexes that continues to reinforce old sexist notions. Male “beauty” in these movies is internalized, (“if only I could get her to notice the real me!”) while female “beauty” remains externalized. The women in these movies are, more often than not, blank characters. They are simply “hot girls”, with little personality. who the geeky protagonists want. Or perhaps, the female characters are revealed, secretly, to be a lot like the male characters. Except they have boobs too!

In fact the best movies in this genre, like Superbad or 40 Year Old Virgin, tweak this tired formula. In Superbad the central lesson is “acting like a drunken asshole is not a good way to connection with women” while 40 Year Old Virgin argues that “maybe sex isn’t everything“. The worst of these sort of films (ala Knocked Up) just reinforce the same old shit.

I often find myself wondering why, exactly, these sort of movies continue to be made?

Of course, there’s the obvious fact that they play well for an audience of awkward teenage (or wish they were teenage) men. And as an awkward, geeky teenager turned awkward, geeky young adult I completely understand the appeal.

But I think there’s more to it than that. The creators of these films (ex. Apatow & Smith) are often “geeks gone good” who through their talent and creativity were able to rise in the social/cultural/economic ladder and “score” with women who, all things equal, would not give them the time of day. Their “internal” talents allowed them to ‘overcome’ their “external” limitations (ie. non-traditional looks, weight problem, awkwardness).

Such creators then use this experince as fodder for their films. Which in turn appeal to those geeks who have not “gone good” but wish they had.

This helps shape a sexual culture that is very freeing for awkward, geeky men but, in turn, limiting to women. While men may be allowed to base their beauty on their “internal” value women are still limited to their “external” value.

I think the solution to this would be films where characters of both sexes are treated as attractive based on their “internal” values. This, of course, will not happen until there are more women writing and directing films. What this culture needs is a female Judd Apatow or Kevin Smith. A person to shape fantasies for the awkward, teenage girls out there.

Of course, it seems this a glass ceiling that Hollywood has yet to shatter.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.