Saturday, January 10, 2015

What the hell, America?

Yesterday in class when we were talking about Pretty Woman I was honestly getting pretty mad. It infuriates me that in 1990s America, something as sexist and offensive to women still became that popular. The classic story of a white knight saving a down-on-her-luck girl and riding off to a magical castle where they live happily ever after is not in itself offensive. However, the combination of a sleazy businessman who objectifies the protagonist as the knight and a smart, independent woman who willfully gives herself to a man who treats her like trash in a borderline abusive relationship makes Pretty Woman so awful (quick synopsis here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pretty_Woman). 

Why is it that Richard Gere's character is such a romantic icon when we view UM as a sleaze? Both men hired a prostitute whom he proceeded to emotionally manipulate. Also, why is it that a work from pre-bolshevik Russia is more progressive when it comes to its female characters? Liza doesn't take UM's abuse and walks out, leaving the money. For a single woman in 1860s Russia, that was an incredibly bold and admirable move. She had no guaranteed income so losing a paying client was nothing to sneeze at. In rejecting the UM, she asserts her independence as a woman and denies UM what he wants most: control. Meanwhile, Vivian falls back into Edward's arms as soon as he turns those smoldering eyes on her. He saves her. The real question is, who needed to be redeemed?

So good job, America. Teach our young girls that personal ambition doesn't matter. Just find a rich guy who treats you like crap and turn into whatever he wants you to be. Everything will be like a fairy tale and you'll live happily ever after.

Thoughts?

4 comments:

Breuna Westry said...

Iris you could also say the same thing about Grease. It is about a girl who can't get the guy of her dreams because he is embarrassed of her goody two shoes nature. In the end she changes all of her morals and her attitude for the guy. They live happily ever after by riding a car into the sky. Even though that part is unbelievable, the story as a whole sends out the wrong message. I can't lie and say I don't bop around to the playful songs, but behind those show tunes are some bad ideas. A girl should not have to change, basically giving up her individuality, for a guy.

alex Monier said...

Well, I mean these are two completely different works as a whole thematically. Pretty woman - which I can't say I have seen so I can't comment too much on - is simply meant to be a nice romance story that is meant to warm hearts with a "I found a diamond in the rust" type story. Meanwhile, Notes from Underground is entirely different in that the novel is about feeling inferior to others and trying to subjugate people emotionally. Also, side note: Liza definitely would have had a relationship with the Underground man if he had not broken down and yelled at her in my opinion. But I digress, these two story lines are entirely different - it's like comparing apples and air craft carriers. One is a story about a complicated love that transcends socio-economic bounds because of true love between the characters, and one is about the philosophical breakdown of the main character.

Isabel Celata said...

Alex, I believe that Iris is arguing that in both cases the man is trying so feel superior and subjugate the woman. I also haven't seen Pretty Woman, so I don't know how much room I have to comment, but according to our class discussion the other day and to Iris's blog post, it seems that the man in Pretty Woman is pretty abusive to Julia Robert's character, but she keeps going back to him because they're "truly in love". Iris is also arguing that in some ways, Notes from the Underground is more progressive than Pretty Woman because Liza is the only character that the Underground Man feels he cannot subjugate.

Tiffany Tavassoli said...

I think that the point Iris making is that both Richard Gere in Pretty Woman and the underground man both are trying to take advantage of women and that they seek after them for their own personal interests, desires, and gain. Although Pretty Woman is supposed to be a lighthearted romantic comedy, I think that it does show a commonality with the wrongfulness of the Underground Man, for they both seem interested in these women because of their egotism that makes them look for gain and personal benefit.