On average, I watch maybe five movies a week. Often these movies consist of movies I have seen before, movies produced by Hallmark or Liftetime and movies that one would largely consider to be a “chick flick”.
As such, as much as I consider myself a lover of movies I never felt comfortable saying so because many of my favourite movies have largely never won an Oscar or even been within smelling-distance of an Oscar. In fact, they’re often the movies Oscar-award winning actors would spend the rest of their careers distancing themselves from. Also, as an over-achiever who has had many a family dinner table battle about the importance of taking women seriously, I carry a certain guilt about my movie tastes that seemed to exclusively feature women in gender normative occupations whose most interesting and therefore film-worthy aspects of their lives involved the pursuit, neglect, getting over, etc of a man.
I tried, therefore, to refine my movies tastes. I set out to see some of the more reputable movies of our time and began by using only the most reputable sources – random lists on the Internet. In doing so, a certain clarity came over me.
The Godfather, Shawshank Redemption, Pulp Fiction, Fight Club, Silence of the Lambs were common staples across these lists. Other entries shared many of the same features – they were all about men in largely masculine settings. There were exceptions like Titanic and Casablanca – movies that I believe are widely considered “chick flicks” but that I actually don’t particularly enjoy because I consider them a little over the top – this from a girl who has seen Pretty Woman about 20 times so I am aware of my hypocrisy here, I’m not going to try and defend this, let’s move on. I don’t suggest that the male-focus of the Shawshank Redemption etc make these movies bad. But it did clarify for me what I found so appealing about the “chick flick”.
As the ever-reliable Urban Dictionary so eloquently puts it, “chick flicks” are one of the few places where we get to indulge in the hopes and dreams of women. Even if those hopes and dreams are centred around a man, I like hearing other women speak honestly about their wants and I like watching them go out and get them. The “chick flick” is where I first saw a human rights lawyer stay true to her convictions as she rose to incredible heights in a corporate firm – thank you Sandra Bullock in Two Weeks Notice. Disney movies (which may or may not be considered “chick flicks” but largely have an equally complicated relationship with feminists) is where I first saw a woman of my skin colour kick total butt – thank you Esméralda.
So yes, I love my “chick flicks” but I also don’t think I’m trying hard enough. I know there are female-centred movies out there that outdo “chick flicks” in its ability to tell honest, feminist stories, that feature women both in front of and behind the camera, and that unlike many of my favourite “chick flicks” of the 90’s, feature women and men of different cultures, sexualities, and socio-economic backgrounds, which brings me to what this blog is for.
I’m setting out on a journey to expand my list of “chick flicks” to include feminist stories in all shapes and forms. So, here we go…