Third wave feminism was bad enough with its “I’m a princess who should be spoiled rotten and pampered AND treated with full equality to men” cake and eating it too business, but now, here is Katherine Heigl… the vanguard of the Fourth Wave.
Is the level of consumerist infantilization implied in her movie posters intentional? I can’t really say; I’ve never seen any of the films. But it’s been all but impossible to avoid sweet, perky Katherine Heigl on the subway walls in my sleepy to and fro from work. She creeps in to my unconscious when my defenses are down and raises my gall to infinitely self-righteous “You’re what’s wrong with this country!” heights.
KNOCKED UP (2007)
Heigl’s big break-out hit is about an pot-addled schmo (Seth Rogen) who gets to marry a gorgeous blonde career woman (Heigl), which is nothing new except he’s not rich, a lawyer or in the entertainment business. So what’s the point? That he knocks her up and she lets her bourgeois Puritan pro-life values screw up her career-track ladder climbing? Is that the message we want disseminated to the pot-addled schmos of our age? Stoners, lend me your ears: Forget about shaving, losing weight, dressing for success or getting a real job, just poke holes in the condoms and win the girl who’d normally never look at you twice. Entrapment is the new black.
Do career-track hotties need to be lectured that all that empowerment stuff they’re into must always come second to a little bundle of half-beautiful joy? I was so mad just from the ads that I’ve never seen KNOCKED UP. I hear it’s pretty funny, but I’d rather curse the darkness than light a candle… NEXT!
27 DRESSES (2008) – Always a bridesmaid, Heigl lives out the dubious woman’s fantasy of trying on over 27 different dresses for her friends’ weddings and otherwise letting them use her to plan their weddings for them. Oh when when when will she make them go through the same humiliation?
This sounds a lot like my mid-90s Cherry Hill NJ girlfriend’s kind of movie… but despite the valuable lessons about life, family and being your own person, this seems suspiciously facile and consumerist… again, I would never see it. It’s bad enough there’s this poster, which seems to indicate that the most important thing–the ultimate signifier–in a girl’s life isn’t even a man, which would be bad enough, it’s a dress, the kind you wear once then stuff into your overstuffed closet.
THE UGLY TRUTH (2009)
The world is full of gorgeous blondes with too-high expectations and no man. All they need is a charismatic ENTOURAGE-style douchebag prick to get them to open up, and it’s preferable he have a sexy British accent. Enter Gerard Butler, who coaches Heigl’s TV talk show host on how to land some dork of a doctor who fixed her ankle in a meet-cute. Before you throw up, let’s let Roger Ebert call this one, with just a brief paragraph from his two-star review:
Mike, the rugged sex-talk guru, tells her she’s making all the wrong moves if she ever wants to catch this guy and starts coaching her. So which guy does she end up with? Guess. The movie leaves not a stone unturned, including the semi-obligatory Beauty Makeover Montage, during which Mike advises her on the requirements of a push-up bra and tells her to acquire longer hair. Uh, huh. And when the doc takes her to a ballgame, Mike broadcasts instructions to her earphone, just as a producer might speak into an anchor’s earpiece.
Thanks Roger, and now we’re up to two of the most horrible:
THE KILLERS (2010)
Notice by now the trend of showing Heigl in a form fitting dress, full body shot, probably to drag in the otherwise sulky boyfriends on chick flick night. Note that she is always placed on the left side of the frame. Not sure why, but it seems like the safer place to be. The main offense here is Heigl’s holding of her gun like it’s a dirty diaper. This gesture on her part says ‘no matter what, I’m not taking this seriously,’ and or ‘which end do you hold this from? Hee hee I’m just a girl, awww.” Ashton’s pained pleading look is like “C’mon honey, this might be a good movie if you at least try to pretend we’re actually in danger.”
The tagline “Marriage… give it your best shot” is repugnant, since neither one of these people is clearly giving the movie their best shot. Why should we listen to a word they say? The only proper response to this offensive poster is to shoot it full of holes, but they don’t let you do that in the subway any more so all you can do is wait for it to come out on netflix where you can stoically ignore it for decades to come.
LIFE AS WE KNOW IT (2010)
The offense comes full circle in this comedy “about taking it one step at a time” that’s due to be released this coming Friday. Note the positioning of the upper middle class-style full length white trim window on a slant to coincide with Heigl’s bent posture as she runs, crouched down to grab her infant. Note her guileless indulgent grin as she chases the baby and the subliminal way her hands actually seem to touch the knee of “tighty-whitys”-wearing husband Josh Duhamel.
Now, anyone knows that no real man wears briefs, especially if he wants to have a baby, since they lower your sperm count. Clearly the white tightness is there to a) draw comparison with the diaper of the child and suggest, aww the husband’s just a second baby. b) to show off Duhamel’s tight round ass.
Between the points of both (a) and (b) we can map the entire decline of the American male’s presence in the nuclear family since the 1970s. Like all the above posters, it’s the tale of how men have grown up stunted, becoming less and less the chief breadwinner and more and more the equivalent of an older sibling in the household hierarchy. Even if he doesn’t leave in a few years for a younger woman who takes him more seriously, the children will still grow up without a strong father figure, driving them into drugs, cutting, bulimia, aggravated assault, rehab, Al-Anon, and years of therapy
Most insulting of all is the look of compliant adoration on Heigl’s face as she runs to her infant, completely ignoring the husband’s presence and suggesting her own part in the destruction of the stable home environment. The whole non-du-pere arc is thrown off if a man is cockblocked by his own child. In other words, it’s a dad’s job to be a bit mysterious, scary, even a bit ogre-ish; his affection is rough and mysterious, and he inspires confidence so the child can feel secure (dad’s got it all under control); all this is lost if he’s on the bottom rung of the hierarchy. Even if the position is purely symbolic he must be the top dog, at least until the child is five years old.
But one look at the dynamic of this poster shows that the baby is really the one in charge, the mother its bitch and the father its wannabe copycat underling. This ‘cuteness uber alles‘ factor reduces men to second class citizens in their own family, forever shut out of the mother-child pair bond, a sulky older sibling who in a drastic bid to get attention reverts to infantile behavior. Thus men become jackasses, foul-mouthed stoners, douchebags and jockeys-wearing callow hipsters all to compete with their child for their wife’s attention. Women can complain about the state of men in this country all they want, but if these Heigl posters are an indication, they’re getting exactly what they ordered. So if you want to effect change, stay home and rent IN AMERICA. Stay home and rent ABOUT A BOY, or FIGHT CLUB. Stay home and rent TITANIC, or just stay home and act your age.
Now pass me that bong, beeeeeeyatch!