“Chick Flicks” and other lies

I can’t fathom anything on this planet more unappetising than a bowl of mushroom soup. I would guess alien vomit or radioactive waste before I would ever settle on “food”. I remember the one ( and what would be known as the only ) time that my mum ever made it for me. There are so many dishes that I think affectionately of and that conjure the warm memories of childhood that you might expect and this was one of these meals you don’t forget, the ones you can smell before you even get close. But no, not in a good way. Don’t mistake me, my mum is a fantastic and extremely innovative cook and for the most part she raised a good and willing experimenter. When faced with the rare occasion that I refused, she’d whip out the infamous question that fill all children with the same existential dread.

“How do you know you don’t like it…unless you try it?”

Ugh… chills, even now. For the record, I did attempt to eat the soup and only got as far as smelling it, gagged and promptly ran up the stairs to throw up. It’s safe to say, I knew.

I never thought I’d hear myself mutter that very question, not at the very least until I had my own children and forced them under the same fate I had suffered all those years ago. However, last night I did that very thing. *Head in hands* * lip smack* *slow head shake* I know, I am as ashamed as you are. The only way I can justify myself, my only defence, is that it was in the name of feminism. A noble cause which I am sure you are familiar with by now. I couldn’t help myself, I was filled with a white hot rage that no cute puppy video could extinguish. The words weren’t even my own anymore, it was as if my body was possessed and my words took on a whole form of their own. I turned to the FaceTime camera, straight on and unblinking. My face was serious and my expression was unwavering.

“Little Women is not just a girls’ film.” Without anger, quiet and insistent, I handed the phone away and left, as if to organise a horse’s head to be placed under their sheets momentarily.

It’s safe to say I didn’t decapitate a horse and put it in their bed, I’m dramatic but I’m not Corleone dramatic. Like any other sane human being, I took to the internet and researched. And then from what I saw, like any other rational person, I blogged my frustrations to you people.

As you may remember, at the Oscars earlier this year ( which might as well be a decade ago ), Little Women was nominated in 6 categories. These nominations included Best Picture, best adapted screen play, acknowledgements of Saoirse Ronan’s performance as well as supporting actress Florence Pugh who was the real stand- out performance of this film for me. Having identified with Jo and Meg from a young age as an aspiring writer and older sister , I couldn’t stand Amy’s infuriating traits but Pugh redefined her so beautifully that I actually came to admire her the most out of all of them- and I am not alone in that opinion by any means. Phew, kept that rant in for a while! Little Women was also recognised for Alexandre Desplat’s original score as well as Jacqueline Duran’s exceptional costume design which was the only award the film collected on the night.

I will stress that 2019 was an incredible year in film and I did find myself torn across some categories, struggling to identify any clear front runner. The difference between the other films and of course, the topic of this blog: Little Women is the fact that despite being nominated across 6 categories, Greta Gerwig was not recognised as a director. In fact, no women were recognised in this category at all. In its history, there have only been 5 women to ever be nominated: Lina Wertmüller (in 1976 for “Seven Beauties”), Jane Campion (in 1993 for “The Piano”), Sofia Coppola (in 2003 for “Lost in Translation”), Kathryn Bigelow (in 2009 for “The Hurt Locker”) and Greta Gerwig (2017’s “Lady Bird” ). The Oscars have famously snubbed women, people of colour and international films in favour of yet another World War One adaptation that display only marginally varying plots. I’m not just talking about 1917 here, it’s a beautiful shot film but I’m afraid I’m tired of glorifying a war where millions lost their lives especially when we aren’t finding new perspectives to tell the same story. A frustrated rant for another day perhaps.

Why is recognition at awards like the Oscars so important though? Especially in the age of streaming platforms like Netflix, Prime and Hulu, do they even hold any degree of relevance now? For now at least, the answer is yes. Oscars determine recognition in the film industry which guarantee future projects, funding and public recognition. When a film wins an Oscar, it says something. It says this film here-it has merit, watch it- remember it. When a film wins an Oscar, it has the power to shift society. This year, for the first time in Oscar’s history, ‘Parasite’ not only won best foreign film but also Best Picture, Director and Original Screenplay by Bong Joon-Ho. It’s a well-earned step in the right direction but needless to say so much more needs to happen.

The frustration felt by many that a female was not recognised in the Best Director category does not negate the success of the winners of the night. Although, I have briefly mentioned Gerwig, there was extensive list of women that did not receive the recognition that they deserve from Lulu Wang and Melina Matsoukas to Mariel Heller and Alma Har’el to name a few. Of course, the distinction between female directed films and so-called “chick- flicks” must be made. Simply, in this case, they supposedly cross-over.

If you read Louisa May- Alcott’s novel or even Gillian Armstrong’s 1994 adaptation, you will know how the March family, particularly Jo, struggle with the patriarchal world they grew up in. In Gerwig’s interpretation, we are faced with the nasty reminder of how poorly the world received works created by women and how even now, they still do not get the recognition that they have more than earned. For then Gerwig not to even be recognised, is a bit on the nose even for me.

I cannot put it better than Jo’s haunting soliloquy’s in Gerwig’s adaptation: “Women, they have minds, and they have souls, as well as just hearts. And they’ve got ambition, and they’ve got talent, as well as just beauty. I’m so sick of people saying that love is just all a woman is fit for. I’m so sick of it!” . In other words, just the same as men and they have just as many important stories to tell.

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Becca Carey

Becca Carey

SEO journalist @ Newsquest covering national news, entertainment and lifestyle + stories from Oxfordshire and Wiltshire | NCTJ qualified @ Glasgow Clyde College