Sunday, April 22, 2018

Hey Good Lookin'

Amy Schumer has found herself in a controversy with I Feel Pretty.  The plot has her character getting knocked on the head and then believing she's a beautiful model-type.  Because she believes she's hot, she acts with confidence and good things happen.

Some in the #MeToo movement claim the film puts out a message of body shaming, and says that most women need brain damage to feel good about their looks.

Beauty is a ticklish issue.  We say it's only skin deep, but women still want to look beautiful, and men are still attracted to beautiful women.  Certainly everyone understands there are far more important things than looks, but biological urges can't just be wished away.

(I'm reminded of this exchange in The Importance Of Being Earnest--
Algernon:  You are the prettiest girl I ever saw.
Cecily:  Miss Prism says that all good looks are a snare.
Algernon:  They are a snare that every sensible man would like to be caught in.)

So movies and TV tend to use beautiful women for leading roles.  Yes, it's not just looks--personality and talent are still pretty important--but it's undeniable good-looking people have an advantage.  And yes, most entertainment is made by men, but they're doing what they believe appeals to the audience in general. And they didn't make it up out of nothing.  Tales told centuries before cinema often feature handsome heroes and beautiful heroines.

So I Feel Pretty, dealing with such a raw issue--in a fairly direct manner by its star, Amy Schumer--touches a nerve.  I'm reminded of a similar issue in Shallow Hal, which is sort of a male version of I Feel Pretty. Jack Black plays a guy who is obsessed with looks, and is hypnotized into believing the most beautiful women are those with the most beautiful inner souls (though how he knows at first glance who these are I'm not sure).

Both films end with the predictable message:  looks don't really matter.  I guess they have to say that, or there'd be real trouble.  Forget that everything else Hollywood does is telling you that's not true.

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