So this is my personal “hello world” post where I say hi to all of you out there. I do hope it’s a hell lot of people. Possibly somewhere in the range of millions. Or shall we say billions? Trillions even? I do count on some actual readers and not just my dearest film buff friends and a couple of curious toxic acquaintances. Pretty, please. Writers need all the support and a kind (very kind! and very numerous!) audience. Wannabe, just starting out, up-and-coming, career-changing, English-is-not-my-native-language kind of writers need even more than that. My SEO plugin warns me to use the term “chick flick” in the first paragraph. Otherwise, my readers won’t understand the post. It’s is harder than I thought. My dear reader, please hang on there a bit longer. I’m going to get to chick flicks, I promise.
Still Saying Hi, but Here Is a Subheading for Better Readability
Because let’s face it putting yourself out there is scary. Posting things on the Internet under your real name is terrifying. And writing a blog where you share your thoughts and passion for cinema is so frightening that not even Thesaurus have the proper synonym to describe it. You have been collecting all these funny pop cultural references. And now it’s time to show them the light. Okay, they might not be as witty as you imagined them to be in your head. But intentions do count, don’t they?
Well-well-well, I am still doing the “hello world” thing right now offered so kindly by WordPress. Yes, I am definitely doing it. HELLO WORLD! I just freaking did it. I did type those words with capital letters, edited it bold and put an exclamation mark at the end of the sentence. First, I was contemplating finishing it up with three exclamation marks but settled for a single one. I believe it is stronger that way. I also hope that my audience (my abundant audience consisting of the full population of a smaller continent like Australia or Antarctica including immigrants and excluding polar bears) understands and appreciates irony and fun and chick flicks. Surely, they teach those skills in school. Otherwise, I am f*cked. Or I’ve got an endless job to do.
Anyway, here is a really short, simple, to-the-point-effective-productive-superstrong-straightforward and occasionally funny Chick Flick Guide. And it is personal. Have I mentioned it? I am a chick. I love flicks. And I desperately want to become a guide, the light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel kind, the bright-ray-coming-from-the-lighthouse-on-a-stormy-night-on-sea type, the reflector-shining-on-the-hidden-gems sort of thing. I’m kidding. I’m just a writer, and I adore hyphens.
Finally, Let’s Get down to Chick Flicks
Huh, that was one length of an introduction, and I still haven’t said a single thing about chick flicks. Good job, Kata. Very well done. Your teachers are going to be proud of you all over academialand. But here is the thing. Definitions are tough cookies and annoying, and you always end up on Wikipedia anyway. So why not save the hassle? Wikipedia says:
“Chick flick is a slang term for the film genre dealing mainly with love and romance which is targeted to a female audience.”
Referring to some dictionaries with Oxford in their names. Wikipedia also talks a bit about the protagonist. It usually is a woman who we follow through the movie, but it can also be some guy or a kid or a dog. It doesn’t matter until the protagonist has a soul, is relatable, and chicks dig it. Wikipedia mentions the emotions involved in this kind of movies too (disclaimer: hardcore emotions and relationship things on the horizon). There is also a bit of talk about feminists, guy-cry films (I learn new things every day) and issues. Hell yeah, there are some issues with chick flicks. More about the controversies later.
You Know It When You See It
Since we are on the Internet, I can feel that you’re already tired of words. So here is a picture. Because the thing is with a chick flick is that you know it when you see it. Down here is a still from Easy A (2010). It is a chick flick for sure. It has been targeted to a female audience. The protagonist is a teenage girl played by the very relatable and charming Emma Stone. And it has the quintessential chick flick genre: a romantic comedy. The screenplay was inspired by the novel The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Easy A was an instant hit (made from $8 million, grossed $75 million worldwide), critically acclaimed and unconditionally funny as you can see it. It is a personal favourite too (more favs coming up soon).
Chick Flick Definitions of Some Sort
If you dig a little deeper, there are some lists and video compilations and DVD sets screaming chick flicks all over them. Content is king. The Internet is a goldmine. Bloggers are funny and smart. But if you go big, you might come across some hot books on the topic. Like a compilation of essays edited by Suzanne Ferriss and Mallory Young named Chick Flicks: Contemporary Women at the Movies.
Another option is to join the ride, scroll through my posts and let me do the reading. It is totally fine by me. However, I want to credit these fantastic women (Ferriss and Young) who have done the hard work before me, did research, backed their sentences with facts, edited, went through academia and all kinds of torture. So their words mean something. So when they say that chick flicks are “a subject that inspires highly polarised and ambivalent responses”, you believe them because they know their sh*t. According to Ferriss and Young:
“[C]hick culture can be productively viewed as a group of mostly American and British popular culture media forms focused primarily on twenty- to thirtysomething middle-class women. Along with chick flicks, the most prominent chick cultural forms are chick lit and chick TV programming[.]”
Well, this blog is going to focus mainly on chick flicks (surprise!), but an occasional trip to chick TV county or chick lit land would hurt nobody. So prepare yourself for the goodies.
Where Did Chick Flicks Come From?
It seems like a mission impossible to trace the origins of the term chick flick. But it has a derisive sound to it for sure. Ferriss and Young say that chick flicks were commonly applied by unwilling male theatregoers to their girlfriends’ film choices. It was also a degrading term used by male studio executives. It was called out when a movie pitch didn’t involve the POV of a white teenage boy or didn’t target the “right audience.” So here we have a demeaning and ridiculing phrase from the past called chick flicks. On top of it, there are some annoyed boyfriends and studio execs not believing that women-oriented films can be successful and/or exciting. But this is just the beginning.
We have some classics that can be considered a chick flick like “women’s pictures” of the early 20th century, screwball comedies, film noirs, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Love Story or any John Hughes movie ever made. But the big bang came in the middle of the 1990s. Bridget Jones’s Diary launched the dawn of chick literature, Sex and the City kicked chick TV programs to the stratosphere, and the revival of the romantic comedy genre (Sleepless in Seattle, My Best Friend’s Wedding, You’ve Got Mail) made the boom of chick flicks possible.
Issues with Chick Flicks
In the 1990s women became more visible in popular culture. But second-wave feminists (the ones from women’s lib from the 70s) weren’t happy with this new-found obsession with all things girly, chick or pink. As Ferriss and Young put it:
“[T]he word chick, along with the word girl, was considered an insult, a demeaning diminutive, casting women as childlike, delicate, fluffy creatures in need of protection and guidance or as appendages to hip young males. Rejecting such terms was a declaration of equality and independence. […] For women of a younger generation, however, the word chick, like girl (and even bitch), has been wielded knowingly to convey solidarity and signal empowerment.”
Then came a new generation of feminists (called third-wave feminists or postfeminists) who wanted to reappropriate and reclaim ownership of some formerly derogative words. That’s how things like girlpower and chick flicks came into play/power. And that’s what I’m planning to with my blog too.
Chick Flick Guide
Chick Flick Guide is here to show you the very best of women-oriented cinema, the finest female-centric movies and TV shows, plus the fiercest women in filmmaking today. My blog is all about celebrating women’s contribution to cinema. The goal of Chick Flick Guide is to tell her(story) and her side of the picture.
A Bit More About Chick Flicks
So we have a term that used to be (or still is) derogatory, namely chick flicks. These are movies definitely made for women usually about women, but only rarely by women. Unfortunately, there will always be narrow-minded people who wouldn’t find a woman’s story compelling. But the cultural landscape is changing. There is a definite shift towards more personal, more chick films.
To sum up, chick flicks operate in a complex cultural structure, where second and third wave feminists, girlpower-enthusiasts, romantic comedy lovers, pessimist naysayers, misogynists and anyone in between can have a say. As Suzanne Ferriss and Mallory Young phrased it:
“[C]hick flicks raise questions about women’s place—their prescribed social and sexual roles, the role of female friendship and camaraderie—and play out the difficulties of negotiating expectations and achieving independence. They do so, however, in complex and often contradictory ways. Chick flicks illustrate, reflect, and present all of the cultural characteristics associated with the chick postfeminist aesthetic: a return to femininity, the primacy of romantic attachments, girlpower, a focus on female pleasure and pleasures, and the value of consumer culture and girlie goods, including designer clothes, expensive and impractical footwear, and trendy accessories.”
Why Are Chick Flicks Merely the Best?
Chick flicks show us women in all shapes and colours with different challenges to face but universal truths to understand. Sometimes they excel in reflection elevating our fears and desires to the next level. Occasionally, they take an interesting spin on things. Another time they provide some good old-fashioned entertainment. Chick flicks are chicken soup for your soul, and they are here to stay. With Chick Flick Guide I’m going to do my best to analyse, discuss, take them apart and put them back together with love while having some plain old fun in the process. So let’s get started!
Any questions, comments, chick flick favourites, knowledge of the eternal truth? Shoot for the comment section below.
Suzanne Ferriss and Mallory Young. Chick Flicks: Contemporary Women at the Movies. (Tayler & Francis e-Library: Taylor & Francis, 2008).
Source of Featured Image: ‘500 Days of Summer’ Official IMDb Page