I’ll be completely honest – this wasn’t the blog post I had planned for today. I had a post all ready to go that is well formulated and structured, looks nice and has good content! But last night, I watched a movie and I feel that I just HAVE to comment on it.
The movie I am talking about is a silly one, it likely won’t have much of a far-reaching impact, and it probably doesn’t even deserve to be spoken about, especially in its own blog post… but maybe it does! Maybe it is EXACTLY media like this that SHOULD be talked about and thought about!
So, last night, after a long day, my mom and I decided to check what Netflix had to offer us in the way of some light-hearted entertainment. We ended up choosing the first thing we saw, a film called ‘Like Father’. We watched the little preview that Netflix gives you if you hover too long at the top of the page, and it seemed perfect for us; a fun, light comedy.
Here is the premise of the movie: we meet Rachel, a ‘workaholic’ for a big corporate advertising company, on her wedding day. Up until the moment she walks down the aisle, she is sending emails and making work calls, and ultimately, it is for this reason that her fiance decides to leave her jilted at the altar, not being able to see a future with a woman who is this dedicated to her job. Now for the sub-plot: Rachel’s long-lost father, who left his family to follow his own career path when Rachel was only 5 years old, has turned up to the wedding. After things go pear-shaped at the ceremony, Rachel and her father end up reconnecting, get very drunk, and find themselves on the cruise ship honeymoon that was intended for the newlyweds. Together with the help of a team of quirky characters on board the ship, including a gay therapist, an elderly couple, and of course, a comedic supporting African-American couple (I mean, could they have tried any harder to tick all their token boxes for this movie?!) Rachel must face the fact that it is because of her priorities, and her work-life balance, that things haven’t worked out for her, i.e. that she hasn’t been able to get married. The question remains: can she really change all this and learn to put her phone away so that she can find happiness ( which means finding a man who will finally marry her)?
I just couldn’t really believe the movie I was watching – it felt like it belonged in the 90s, not in 2018! Here we are presented with this character, Rachel, who is pretty much a total bad-ass! She works incredibly hard and has earned herself a great job (in a corporate company – never an easy task for a woman which shows tremendous strength of character on her part). She’s ambitious, she has goals and dreams and she puts them above any man! She is committed, she somehow manages to find the time to always look amazing and she also invested in a romantic relationship – I mean, wasn’t the fiance the idiot for not realising until his wedding day that her number one priority was her work and that he would never get her top spot?! It seemed to me that she was always clear about that!
However, this movie sought to portray her as a complete failure! It was always deemed to be terrible when Rachel attended to work calls and emails on her phone. The fact that her fiance left her at the altar was HER fault, because of her shortcomings. And they made it pretty clear that if she didn’t change and realign her priorities, she would end up like her father and live a miserable and failed life. Because marriage = success, happiness and fulfilment. I just can’t find the sense in this.
What is perhaps even more shocking, is that the co-writer and director of the movie was a woman!! We have to look at the movie in the context of what is happening in our world today. Women, and especially women in Hollywood, are finding their voices! Time’s up! Do we really want to use our voices to preach this old-fashioned, out-dated message about women only finding happiness in men and not in their own personal work? I so believe in the ‘women empowering other women’ movement, and I think it is really important, even more so in 2018 and with someone like Trump in the Oval Office. How could the woman who directed this movie be OK with putting her own heroine, Rachel, down like that?!
Maybe I’m being too hard on the movie, maybe one could say that is was just meant to be a shallow, light and funny movie and not dissected in any feminist way. But isn’t this the whole problem? That this is the kind of comment that our society can make about a woman and that it can just be allowed to fly because it’s not ‘serious’ or ‘real’.
Maybe I am the one to be criticised because I chose to watch it. Alright, I accept that. I didn’t need to engage, and I have worked really hard at disengaging from things I find toxic or that I don’t like online or within my own connections, so why would I choose to watch this movie, and watch until the very end? Well, maybe it was some kind of outraged and morbid curiosity. Maybe I am still a product of our society and, whether I like it or not, I simply can’t escape from being taken in by these ridiculous, glamorous, white Hollywood stories. But it has certainly provoked me to think more about this, what I engage in, and to be more aware of what progress really is, or isn’t, being made.