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Chicks, Flicks!


Do you love your family? Of course. Your nuclear family? Certainly. Your extended family? Sure. Every last one of them? Um…For, say, six days, three meals a day plus snacks, with every personal tick on display and every hangover from old issues playing out included, all packed into the same family room for hour after hour after hour? There, there, it’ll be all right.
Having a nice holiday, are we? In even the most loving, well-adjusted families, there comes a time in every long-term gathering when plopping a movie into the VCR or DVD player or laser moonbeam catcher or whatever would not be amiss.
If you’ve had enough tring-aling-linging, here’s a list of movies for grownups. Every single one that I’ve seen from the group, which isn’t as many as I’d like, I’ve enjoyed. The L.A. Times’ Carina Chocano put the list together recently of movies that appeal to “real” women, as opposed to some chick flick demographic imagined by studio heads. That’s a big part of the appeal of these movies: even in the most absurd situations or surreal plots, the women’s characters are realistic – they ring true.
In her article accompanying the list, Chocano talks about how the term “chick flick” marginalizes movies and directors and audiences, making, as usual, the experiences involving one half of humanity the norm, and those including the other half, a departure. And anything touching on girl stuff in any way gets lumped together in this not very helpful chick flick category, signalling guys shouldn’t take it seriously. She doesn’t mention this, but some of the movies on Chocano’s list, for example, to show their more universal appeal, were labeled good “date movies” when they came out, meaning men could enjoy them under cover of female companionship.
The term “chick lit,” too, is used to dismiss books, she notes. That’s true for too many works by women, or works that get tagged as only for women (which happens more often than boyish stuff is considered only for boys). If it’s for the girls, it’s lesser in some way. Look at Jane Austen, for god’s sake, a writer (to paraphrase her badly) I would not even presume to praise, who has gotten her share of “she’s good despite” comments along the way (despite writing about the “small” world of women’s domestic situations, for example). And these days too, apparently sometimes gets counted as the original chick lit writer. (Or look at “mommy blogging.” That’s also a term that can be used dismissively, as was heatedly discussed at the July Blogher conference. And I imagine there are similar discussions whenever women who create something gather.)
Without the headline on the L.A. Times list of movies, and with a few of the more obvious choices (like The Women) removed, I think it would be hard to figure out what links them. Because they’re simply good movies with good characters, and certainly not just for women. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Well, actually there can be. The problem with a chick flick label is that it keeps some people from finding good movies, and it keeps some good movies from finding a larger audience, meaning fewer get made.
Check out a few of the movies on the list. And as your local restaurant waitperson would say, “Enjoy.”

Share  Posted by Deborah Klosky at 11:25 AM | Permalink

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