Monday, August 27, 2007

The Best Movie Ever About Putting Women in Their Place

This is for the Bizarro Days going on at Lazy Eye Theatre.

The conceit of The Devil Wears Prada is that it's a satire on the world of fashion and offers a young, idealistic, (God help me for writing this word) spunky journalist the chance to either be consumed by industry or save herself from the horrors of empty success, unhappy careerism, and being good at something that isn't simply being a woman. Thank goodness she makes the right choice and comes to realize the male experience is general and the female experience is personal. Understanding the difference between the two could save you from being the worst thing a woman can be: a bitch.

The film starts with Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) getting a job at Runway magazine as an assistant to Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep), the exacting editor who talks only in the kind of Paul Rudnick bitchspeak that so many people find so amusing. She finds herself overworked and constantly on call, but after a pep talk from assistant editor Nigel (Stanley Tucci), she takes the work seriously and becomes very good at it.

Of course, there are consequences for a woman who is good at her job; she must be unhappy. First, we're made to realize the cost to her home life with her boyfriend Nate (that douche from Entourage), who has so much personality to offer that he sets the screen on fire. It's important how much we understand how she's sold out her ideals, and the filmmakers give us that understanding by showing how rich and satisfying her homelife with Generic Movie Boyfriend is. They laugh about people who are rich, successful, and ostentatious while they dress much nicer than recent college graduates, sip wine casually, and prepare grilled cheese sandwiches with "eight pounds of gouda" in them. They're poor, but happy. They have integrity. We know, because Nate works himself to the bone as some kind of assistant chef but lives in squalor.

As time moves on, she meets a slick photographer or reporter or something with terrible hair named Christian Thompson. He basically hits on her and helps her out of a jam, but we all know that women aren't supposed to be nice to men who aren't their boyfriends. What good is feeling attractive and smart and interesting? It's for your boyfriend to tell you whether you're attractive or not, ladies. Andy's artist friend, Whatsername, knows the truth, and calls Andy on her flirty ways. She does it to save Andy's integrity, and not at all out of some kind of jealousy over no longer being the really successful one with the best hair and clothes.

And how dare Andy miss her boyfriend's birthday? Never mind that she's working her ass off for both of them. Never mind how good she is at her job. She's a woman! She's supposed to spend all of the time she can being there for her man! Nate is right to dump her after discovering that Andy is so good at her job that she's been picked to go and assist Miranda at Fashion Week in Paris. If she were a decent human being, she'd just quit her job and do something womanly, like reception work, until Nate decided it was time for her to stop working and be the mother of his children. Ladies, you need to know: hard work is not its own reward. Motherhood is. How are you supposed to feel complete when you're turning off every man you meet by successfully competing in the marketplace? If Andy really loved Nate and knew what was good for her, she'd understand the mistake she was making and get down on her knees to beg forgiveness.

At least Andy learns the truth in Paris. Christian sleeps with her, then tries to betray the empty, divorced Miranda whom she's come to misguidedly admire. This is what most men want from you: to use you for their own pleasure while deciding how to stab you in the back to become successful. This is why you should stay in your own little world and date the boy you met in college. Or high school.

Andy also rejects Miranda in the end, realizing the emptiness of fulfilling goals and becoming a success and being smart and good at things like a man. She quits her job and begs Nate to forgive her for her misguided lack of integrity and the way she so selfishly tried to be good at her job and take pride in her work. Unfortunately, it's too late for her. Nate has done something admirable--he's gotten a big-time, prestigous, high-paying restaurant job in another city. See, that's for men to do, not women like Andy and Miranda. And Nate smartly moves on by himself, leaving Andy to rot in the hell of low-paying bumfuck papers that no one reads and hobos sleep under. She needs to get her integrity back, and she needs to be put in her place. Victory for men once again!

Finally, Andy realizes the importance of not being called a bitch.


Bob Turnbull said...

Great post...I think you captured much of my problem with the film.

Though I liked Streep's performance of the character (she does it with such relish), I can't say I much liked anything else. In particular, her lame chef boyfriend.

SamuraiFrog said...

I'm glad you said that; most people don't understand why I got so pissed off over that movie. I liked Anne Hathaway, too, but I always like her. Streep was wonderful; the movie really does a disservice to her character and her performance by villainizing her.

Anonymous said...

What a riot...sad and angry are the girls in the movie and the girls posting here, including the one who wrote the commentary. It makes you angry because the truth hurts. Women who pursue careers end up alone, empty and sad. Men don't use use up yourselves, while tyring to use them as well. Get a life girls. And its not in the office. The movie was "spot on" excellent in conveying a message to the young duped minds out there like yours. Thats why you're upset. Its reality. Reality blows. Get used to it.

SamuraiFrog said...