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By Excess Hollywood | May 30, 2007

Calling a film a “”chick flick” is like saying the movie has no value to male viewers. I’d argue that many of those films have no value to any viewer. Sounds harsh? It’s meant to, but I’ll explain lest I offend anyone.

Let’s take the “”chick flick” “”28 Days,” for example. Some would argue that no man would want to see this, and that it was only made to appeal to women. I can’t testify that no man would want to see it (I didn’t want to, but I don’t know about everyone else), and I won’t argue the fact that it was most likely made with a female demographic in mind. I would, however, say the film had no value to viewers of either gender.

When a film is made and marketed to appeal to a certain segment of society, it changes the nature of the movie. This can be a positive or negative depending on how it is handled. A story like “”28 Days” could have appealed to both men and women with a few changes in marketing and, less importantly, story. Instead, it gets deemed a “”chick flick” and thereby loses any kind of substantial “”value” (we live in a world that is male dominated, so anything that is geared toward men will have a greater “”value” to society, which is why there are “”chick flicks” — a demeaning term — and “”action films” — an acceptable term). Hell, most of the movies my female friends like are ones that could never be called “”chick flicks” in the first place, which means I either have very intelligent female associates (they are), or the term doesn’t mean what the studios think it means.
I remember when “”Thelma & Louise” was called a “”chick flick.” I saw it and kind of enjoyed it, as I usually do when it comes to tales of personal liberation. The only thing that really made it a “”chick flick,” however, was that its two main characters were women and the way it was marketed. Compare it to “”Baise Moi,” which is not a anything close to the standard definition of a “”chick flick” and has never been called one (but is a female empowering film and has two females in the leads), and you start to see where the subtle differences come into play. Which was a better film? Hard to say. One definitely made more money than the other. One was better filmed. One had better actors. One got better reviews. The winner in all those categories is “”Thelma & Louise.” “”Baise Moi,” however, was a stronger film if only because it wasn’t sanitized for a primarily female audience. (Hollywood has some funny definitions of what it thinks females find appropriate.)

Maybe that’s the male in me. I don’t like my films to be pretty and cleaned up. Of course, that implies females do, and that’s just wrong. I think mainstream audiences in general like their films to be neat and clean and easy to categorize. They don’t like things that won’t fit into pre-made boxes. That’s what a consumer society has done to art. It’s not a female thing, it’s an American thing.

Guys and the media can demean “”chick flicks” as much as they like (and plenty of the ones called that deserve ridicule, just like most Hollywood crap does), but they don’t get that their favorite films are just as stupid and petty as they stuff they claim to hate. Is “”Old School” really that important to cinematic history? Does the Rambo franchise mean anything to anyone who has ever read an AK Press book?

I won’t use the term “”chick flick” to define a film. I’ll stick to things that are gender neutral, though I will advise any woman who wants to see the ultimate “”chick flick” to rent the two “”Kill Bill” movies, as the “”genre” doesn’t get much better than that.

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  1. Felix Vasquez Jr. says:

    We demean each other, really.

    The tag of chick flick is not as demeaning as the man hating neo-feminist craze we’ve experienced with pop culture.

    For proof, you need to look no further than commercials, sitcoms, and even movies to view the pushed male stereotypes.

    I think pushing an endearing pigeonhole on a sub-genre is not as bad as depicting men as oafish, lazy, immature, dumb, childish, fat slobs.

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