New year, new look, new rant

Welcome back, friends and readers, and happy 2009.  You’ll notice that the blog looks a bit different, I took the initiative to give it a makeover for the new year.  I’ve changed my “about me” info, including a link if you’d like to follow me on Twitter (great for those of you who would prefer me in small, 140 character increments).  You may also notice that there’s now a blog roll added to the main page.  If you’d like to recommend a blog, or even better, your own blog to be added to the roll, let me know.

Now that I got the administrative duties out of the way, on to the lifeblood of this blog: bitching and ranting about largely meaningless things.  January is usually the dead zone for movies, the beginning of that long, mind-numbing period between Oscar baiting in the fall and the summer blockbusters.  Acting as a sort of clearance rack for Hollywood, January to April is when all the really shitty movies that kept getting pushed back or aside to make way for better movies are finally released to make $200 or so before quietly disappearing.  2009 looks to be starting on a particularly malodorous note, with the upcoming Paul Blart, Mall Cop, My Bloody Valentine 3D, Hotel for Dogs, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, The Pink Panther 2, Confessions of a Shopaholic, a remake of Friday the 13th and Street Fighter: the Legend of Chun-Li all being inflicted upon us within the next two months.  One of the first in the bunch, its trailer running incessantly for the past couple of weeks, is Bride Wars, starring Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway as best friends turned bitter rivals when, through a thoroughly implausible plot contrivance, their weddings are scheduled at the same venue on the same day.

Remember when Kate Hudson had a promising career, back around 2000 or so? Now it seems she’ll accept any pile of fecal matter disguised as a script that comes her way, if appearing in The Skeleton Key, You, Me and Dupree, Fool’s Gold and My Best Friend’s Girl are any indication.  You’d think that starring in a film where her leading man is Dane Cook would have given Kate Hudson a jarring hint that her career was quickly going off the rails, but alas, no, her next film after that is Bride Wars, a film so shamelessly formulaic it might as well been written like a game of Mad Libs.  It should have taken just one person to write the script for Bride Wars, possibly while drunk and blindfolded, and yet it took three somehow, which is never a good sign.  It suggests that the script had to go in for rewrites more than once, and given how bad the final result looks I can only guess that the original just consisted of a bunch of chimpanzees dressed in wedding gowns and hitting each other over the head with beach shovels.

Hang on to your hats, though, ladies, because we can expect a glut of films in the same vein as Bride Wars over the next year, because Hollywood figured out at some point during 2008 that women go to the movies, sometimes even of our own volition.  Some of the most successful films of the year, including Sex and the City, Twilight and Mamma Mia! had predominantly female audiences, so it’s now become a matter of financial importance to start making more movies marketed directly to women.  The one thing no one mentions about movies like Twilight and Mamma Mia! is that they’re fucking terrible.  They’re inane, condescending films made by people who believe that their target audience requires nothing more than some pretty colors to be flashed across a screen to be entertained.  Somewhere along the line it became apparent that women for whatever reason tend to choose movies that involve people dancing and kissing over serious films, even moreso if there’s a way you can work a montage of someone trying on clothes and funny hats set to the tune of ‘Walking on Sunshine’ into it.  The general consensus is all too dishearteningly clear: women seem to like really stupid movies, and as long as women keep putting millions of dollars towards stupid movies, they’re going to keep making stupid movies for women.

For once I’m not going to apologize for my opinion, or invalidate it by admitting that I too enjoy dumb movies every now and then.  I get tired of hearing about anyone really, regardless of gender, throwing away perfectly good money on shit they know is going to be bad, especially movies.  I don’t know about you, but where I live it can cost upwards of $12 a pop to see a movie in a theater, and that’s a lot of money to spend on crap.  It’s one of the reasons I’m far more selective about the movies I’ll see in a theater these days, because I sure don’t want to think about what a waste of money it would be otherwise.  Filmmakers, musicians, authors, they don’t care why you gave them money, or that you only find them entertaining in an ironic sense, just that whatever they did made a lot of money, so they’re going to keep doing more of the exact same thing, for a very long time.  This is why nearly half of cable and network television programming is now dedicated to reality shows.  This is why Laurell K. Hamilton and Stephenie Meyer are millionaires.  This is why there are still lame, PG-13 horror movies released every few months, because the horror movie revival in the late 90s and early 00s was such a surprise success.  So they’ll keeping making them, even though the new releases are barely pulling in a dime at this point, until they do so poorly at the box office that the studios will end up being in debt to the theater owners.  No one will admit that any of this stuff is good, and yet we continue to give them money.

The immediate future of entertainment for women looks especially bleak.  Back in the 40s and 50s Hollywood used to make “women’s pictures,” character-driven classics like A Star is Born, Mildred Pierce and Portrait of Jennie.  Eventually “women’s pictures” devolved into the dreaded “chick flick,” fluffy, empty-headed fantasies in which the main character’s most pressing issue is landing The Perfect Man, and all problems can be resolved by shopping and trading wisecracks with her best friend, who is usually either a sassy black woman or an even sassier gay man.  In chick flicks characters tend to exhibit the kind of controlling, manipulative, obsessive behavior that often result in friends and lovers fleeing in the other direction in real life, rather than at best gently chided and often, in the end, rewarded.  Before you point out that people don’t believe these movies to bear any sort of resemblance to real life, I have Science on my side: a study in Scotland proved that fans of romantic comedies develop unrealistic expectations when it comes to love, especially in the areas of trust and communication.  In short, filmmakers aren’t doing anyone any favors by cranking out the umpteenth rehash of Bridget Jones’ Diary, and we aren’t doing ourselves any favors by watching them.

Bride Wars is, of course, a movie about weddings, and wedding movies are becoming their own sub-genre of chick flicks.  They’re particularly odious because they play into two stereotypes about women: one, that we’re scheming and petty when it comes to relationships, and two, we’re obsessed with getting married.  Bride Wars, clearly written by people who hate women (sad considering two of them are women) piles the stereotypes on even further, portraying brides-to-be becoming hateful, demanding shrews when it comes time to plan their weddings and women in general as untrustworthy, backstabbing bitches who will steamroll anyone, including their best friends, to get what they want.  While of course there really are women who would just as soon step on your head as give you a hug when it comes to men, jobs, or the attention of other friends, in my own life I’m happy to say those people have been few and far between, and I’d like to think that’s the case for most other women as well.  So why do we keep letting ourselves be portrayed in such a manner? Why is the kind of behavior exhibited in these movies considered amusing and charming? I’m sorry, when I saw My Best Friend’s Wedding I didn’t find the idea of Julia Roberts befriending Cameron Diaz while actively plotting to steal her fiance “charming.”  That’s something horrible people do, and I’m glad she didn’t get her man in the end.  I don’t see anything hilarious about the main characters in Bride Wars spending the majority of the film trying to sabotage each other’s weddings in an endless array of dirty tricks and juvenile insults, including one making barbed remarks about the other one’s weight when both look like they weigh about 110 pounds soaking wet.  Maybe if it was a black comedy where no one gets married at the end, or both Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway end up dead after a brutal cake knife fight, maybe it would be watchable.  But it’s being marketed as a light, “fun” comedy, and going by publicity stills it appears that at least one of them still gets their big day at the altar at the end.  Why do filmmakers continue to reward appalling people who do appalling things? Why do we continue to reward the filmmakers for making this shit?

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