In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, actress Katherine Heigl says that Knocked Up, was "a little sexist."
"It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys," she says. "It was hard for me to love the movie."
My first response to this was basically, "huh, that's interesting." Personally I didn't find the movie particularly sexist. In a larger cultural context it most likely plays into sexist attitudes. But, that's not the same thing.
What interested me more, was reading the thread of comments following.
Eh, I realize no one else agrees with me, but I just want to say a little bit about why I identify with the married sister.
I thought there was something really powerful about having an angry woman on screen. I feel like she doesn't take any shit from her husband or anyone. And I thought that was awesome. I guess though that I'm in the minority in finding her an angry and likeable character. It seems like most people are reading her as an angry and irritating character.
I guess I just identified with a lot of her feelings, concerns about ageism and wanting her partner to be around more often in particular. I feel like these are real weighty concerns. It's not like she was screaming about her husband about nonsense.
Am I the only one who was really moved by her emotions in the fantasy baseball scene?
I disagree. I think this movie was about men who have been living an extended adolescents and have to learn to give it up. The women in the movie functioned as their opposites (in other words, as adults).
Umm, yeah, that's kind of what makes it sexist. This stereotype that it's ok for men to have an "extended adolescence" and women are supposed to be their "opposites," all grown up and mature and there to keep those goofy men in line.
Also, when will these ridiculous pregnancy stereotypes going to die?!?! Women are emotional when they're pregnant, we get it. They think they're fat, we get it. They say they want "natural" childbirth, but change their minds the second a contraction hits (and it's always too late to get the drugs or epidural, so they are forced to have it "natural" anyway), we get it. I kept thinking is that what Judd Apatow really thought of his wife when she was carrying his child(ren)? Ick.
I thought the parts of it were ok, the rest was stereotypical crap right on par for this kind of film. I was hoping for more and got less.
I guess I thought the characters were drawn with enough dimensions that they weren't stand-ins for all women or all men.
I just didn't see this as a battle of the sexes movie, but rather a movie about particular people. (Though again, clearly I'm in the minority on this one.)
Secondhandsally, I was absolutely moved during the fantasy baseball scene. I thought it was a great depiction of how women are expected not to want a reprieve from their husbands and children, and how utterly selfish her husband had been.
I also didn't see the male characters as positive at all. It seemed to me that Ben's character felt lost and knew he was lost the whole time, and rather than making Alison tell him what to do, she (along with his father) told him that they accept him how he is. And it wasn't until Ben realized that until he found some real direction and owned his decisions that he was happy. He didn't want an extended adolescence; he wanted Alison, he wanted family, and he looked around at his friends and realized that he wanted more than that.
Ultimately the person I ended up responding to was Linda Flores. I'm going to put up my comments with hers that I'm responding to, in italics.
Linda, wow, I don't think I could have read this scene more differently than you if I tried.
"He also has not become sensitive to Alison’s needs and to the friendship and support shared between her and her sister, or developed any sort of remorse for his negligence (he admits freely that he never doubted she would take him back)."
He absolutely has become sensitive to her needs, and shows himself perfectly capable of being calm and reassuring to her, while yelling at doctors in the other room (advocating for the woman in labor) to get her what she said she wanted.
I also think he had a lot of respect for Leslie's character.
"Instead, he proves himself by asserting absolute ownership over Alison and the soon-to-be child. When Debbie, who went through birth-training with Alison, arrives to help her sister, he takes her into the hall. Out of nowhere he starts yelling, “That’s MY room now! Back the fuck off!” He points to the waiting room and says, “That’s your area. You stay out of MY ROOM and go be in YOUR AREA!”"
I LOVED this scene! The one thing with Allison's sister was that she was way too type A, and had to take over anything she was a part of. But Allison has invited him back into this process now, and he knows the only way he can control the situation (which is not his having ownership over Allison! At this point in the birthing process she needs an advocate) he needed her sister not to take the control away from him. I think he also knew that she (Allison's sister) would respect him for being assertive, whereas she would have thought him weak if he had backed off and deferred to her. If he's going to be anything in Allison's life, he had to show he was willing to own up to his responsibilities and the role she had chosen for him.
"Debbie, publicly insulted and literally “put in her place,” is speechless for the first time."
I think this is the thing I disagree with the absolute most. She's not speechless because she's insulted, she's speechless because she's IMPRESSED. Being such a dominant personality, she respected his FINALLY showing some backbone as well.
"She softens. “I like him…He’ll make a good father and he’ll take care of her,” she says."
I didn't see this as her softening at all, she sits down with respect for Ben for the first time, and that's what this quote is expressing.
"Turns out, she was annoying and cold because there wasn’t a man in her life taking charge."
Well, yes. But only because she is a heterosexual woman. She's an alpha female who wants an alpha male to match. That's not sexist, that's just real life, for me anyway, as an alpha female who is with an alpha male.
"In the absence of male domination, she wasn’t allowed to be feminine and submissive the way she becomes in this final scene. It truly is a Promise Keeper moment."
Again, not remotely what I saw at all, for all the reasons already listed.
I loved Leslie Mann's character! Definitely angry but still likable. To be honest I think a lot of people are selling the movie short here. The characters were all a lot more complicated than it appeared with a first glance.
secondhandsally, you said it best I think: "I just didn't see this as a battle of the sexes movie, but rather a movie about particular people." A movie about particular people indeed.