On this Easter Sunday I am writing of the House Bunny – the movie, that is. How did this trite little teenage comedy manage to work itself under my skin so badly? I laughed in parts (the script was somewhat smart), but it’s attempt at acknowledging the divide between the ‘unsexy’ misfits and the ‘sexy’ playboy bunny really didn’t work.
Plot synopsis: former playboy bunny becomes ‘house mother’ to a sorority of outcasts and tries to get more pledges by making them over. The ‘bunny’ (played by Anna Faris) goes through her own transformation and discovers it’s ok to be ‘real,’ with all parties discovering how to meet ‘boys’ properly.
The main thing that bothers me about this – and many – movies is their ability to accentuate the ‘differences’ between people and how we relate to each other based on these differences, specifically in relation to sex, love, romance. The ‘point’, of course, of all these movies is to show how to be real and create bonds based on similarities rather than differences. But this movie accentuated the differences with such an extreme focus that it had the opposite effect on the (this) audience. They never appeared sexy because the reasons that they didn’t ‘fit in’ were so exaggerated that it we only felt sorry for them, without really relating to them.
In this movie, there is SUCH a focus on how ‘the other sex’ views women, as if how ‘they’ see us is what matters. In the real world the so-called ‘misfits’ would have burned down the house and just abandoned the idea of being a sorority alltogether, because they are stronger and more confident than the other ones who try too hard to fit in. In the real world, the ‘misfits’ simply wouldn’t care about those things from the getgo. They would leave all of that behind and turn to their own creative devices to do something way more interesting because they ARE smart and creative and different. At least that is the case with people that I know and admire, and that would make for a far more inspiring and empowering film.
Instead, here it really is a case of ‘make these girls pretty and they’ll get pledges AND boys’…what kind of message does that send to it’s (presumably) mostly teenage audience?
This movie really reinforced how, the harder Hollywood tries to acknowledge greater societal problems, the worse off we are. In regards to sex, romance, love, as well as social problems, Hollywood really focusses on othering (‘us’ vs ‘them’) . The movie focuses so much on these ‘separation’ and group mentality that it doesn’t get to the thick of how to get beyond these issues in a real way. Hollywood is really good at only showing the surface, but here they seemed to make an attempt at being deep, only to end up sending an even more superficial message.
I am absolutely sick of the way that sexual attraction/romantic interest is always treated in movies. I’m sick of it because I realized recently that our collective habit of idealizing on sex (gender) and romance really, draws us away real world issues (think: Royal Wedding). It’s not only OK, but normal, for us, as women, to devote most of our attention to dating, or men, or a man, or being sexy, or attaining a certain ideal. This is deeply ingrained in our brains. I sound like a complete feminist here but I do not consider myself this, because that would be categorizing myself. It’s just that the older I get, the more I realize how much this detracts from real life.
They tell you to be yourself and do your thing, but they don’t get to the thick of why are are deeply conditioned to not do this in the first place. I really believe that Hollywood (the media) has alot to do with this. Sex, sexuality and romance are important and interesting. They are vital parts of a healthy life. But the way women are taught to relate to these things, the way that ‘othering’ is represented in the media, the extent to which women are validated/attempt to validate themselves via these avenues is truly disturbing.
We need to dig much deeper than Hollywood to unlearn this.