Booksmart Wasn't A Perfect Film And That's Okay
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Arts Entertainment

'Booksmart' Is A Huge Step Forward For Women In Film, But Plenty More Still Needs To Be Done

Female representation in film has slowly been improving over the past decade, however, sexism on screen and off are still rampant in the industry. Booksmart leads the charge to a more equal and representative future in cinema.

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'Booksmart' Is A Huge Step Forward For Women In Film, But Plenty More Still Needs To Be Done

This weekend I went to see Booksmart. After seeing the trailer for it just a few weeks before, I had eagerly been awaiting the release, and ecstatic to finally see the film I thought would be the movie of the summer. A quirky film with two female leads, one of them lesbian, and both "nerds," I could not have been more excited to see a representation of the person I had been just a few years prior on the big screen. A comedy with two teenage female leads, directed by a woman, and made for women was something I had not experienced before, and I went into the film with incredibly high expectations.

And it was….good. It was not incredible, it was not amazing, it was not the best movie I have ever seen, but it didn't need to be. It was a good movie. It was silly, it was dumb, and it didn't take itself seriously. The characters were weird and over-the-top, the situations they found themselves in were impossible, and the ending was wrapped up neatly in a bow, and that is okay.

Often in film, creations by and for women are held to an impossible standard compared to traditional cinema in order to be "acceptable." Just look at examples of past films such as the female Ghostbusters, or Captain Marvel. These movies made with and for women, though by no means bad films, were torn apart by the industry, by the public, and more specifically by men because they were not perfect. I can't even count high enough how many movies made by men have not been perfect. Somehow though, men expect every film produced by women to be the film of the century in order to be accredited.

Walking out of the movie with my male friend, he remarked "that was the worst movie I have ever seen." Hyperbole or not, such a take was baffling to me. I pressed for more. "Well, the main characters were insufferable, the plot line was unbelievable, and it was way too over-the-top. " I had to keep myself from bursting out "Well what else did you expect? It's a comedy!" Sure, the characters are not perfect, but they are not supposed to be. The sex scenes are awkward, the parties are ridiculous, the storyline was unrealistic, that's the point.

Booksmart is not meant to be an academic approach to growing up as a woman in high school. Booksmart is a comedic representation of what it's like to be a teenage girl, for teenage girls.

The characters are annoying, maybe even mean at some points, their friendship is ridiculous, their choices are incredibly dumb, and the situations they find themselves in would never happen in real life. But let's just for a second imagine the film had been about two boys in the same situation. Two boys about to graduate high school who had been nerds all their life, deciding that for the last time they could, they would go wild. Imagine if male leads had had their first sexual experience in a party bathroom, had admitted their embarrassing crush, had held up a pizza delivery driver, and done an Asian-ayahuasca type drug, and realized by the end that maybe everyone in high school wasn't so bad. Yeah, they might have not been great characters, but they're flawed for a reason. That movie would probably have been hailed as the movie of the summer; my male friend probably would have thought it was the funniest comedy he had ever seen.

Women are not allowed to be flawed however, and neither their characters nor their movies. Two flawed female characters are seen as annoying, shrill, bullies, insufferable. A girl having her first sexual experience at a party be awkward is gross and weird, but if it were a boy, it would be "relatable".

A movie that is not perfect but still good is not considered good enough because if it's made by a woman, it has to be perfect. What many need to understand about this film is that it is not made for the male gaze. It is not a film made from the perspective of men, for men. It is a film made by women, for women. It is a movie made for teenage girls who are experiencing the same thing the main characters are, it is a movie made for women who look back on their high school selves and see them represented on the big screen. It is a movie made free from male sexualization, misogyny, and impossible perfection standards. The point of the movie is that the characters are not perfect, and neither is the movie itself. It does not take itself seriously, because that is not the purpose.

So to those quick to judge Booksmart, take a second to think whether or not this movie was made for you. Take a second to realize that maybe the reason you don't like it is because for once there is something made free from the male gaze, something that we as a society are rarely exposed to in cinema, and maybe give it another chance.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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