Netflix's 'The Kissing Booth' Is Misogynistic
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Netflix's 'The Kissing Booth' Proves Misogyny Is Not Dead

One of my friends described the film in a single text by saying, "That movie was Painful."

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Netflix's 'The Kissing Booth' Proves Misogyny Is Not Dead
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vD0P8XQSkIA

Over my years, I have watched a lot of teen romantic comedies, I have read a lot of YA novels, and I have, admittedly, imagined myself as the socially awkward teenage protagonist, constantly stumbling over my feet and words in what would come across in a movie as awkward and charming alike. So when my friend suggested that we watch the Netflix original movie "The Kissing Booth," I was ready to settle in for another predictable but light-hearted and charming love story.

In short, I am not exaggerating when I say that my friends and I were screaming at the television screen for about two hours after the movie ended. One of my friends described the film in a single text by saying, "That movie was Painful," with precaution to capitalize "Painful" for emphasis.

For those who have not seen this movie, allow me to summarize the premise for you. Elle (Joey King) and Lee (Joel Courtney) have been friends since birth when their mothers met in the hospital. They bonded over playing Dance Dance Revolution, swimming in Lee's backyard pool, and are the classic inseparable best friends. As the movie continues, we follow Elle as she recognizes that she has feelings for Lee's older brother Noah, who she notes has a penchant for picking fights with anyone who breathes, despite one of the rules she has with Lee. Rule 9 clearly states that she is not allowed to fall in love with Noah because he's Lee's older brother.

On the surface, it's cute. Adorable, even, and I understand why so many people see the movie as charming. The acting comes across as believable, and I commend the actors for their jobs for making each of the characters memorable. However, my issue with the movie is not so much with the acting, nor the story in general, but with several specific points that came across as both concerning and misogynistic.

The first come fairly early in the film when Elle goes to school wearing a short skirt. As soon as she steps out of the car, every male character with the exception of Lee is either whistling or drooling. One students takes it upon himself to grab Elle's butt, which, in turn, sends Noah into a state where he and Lee take turns fighting for Elle's honor. This moment is meant to frame Noah as the brooding protector, who will jump into a fight to protect Elle, but it comes across as sloppy. There is never a true follow-up with the student who grabbed Elle, and Elle herself is sent to the principal's office to be lectured. Thus, I present the first red flag.

Later in the movie, after Elle and Noah have danced around one another for about an hour and have kissed several times, they wind up together at the Hollywood sign. I'm willing to disregard the logistics about how these two teenagers wound up sitting directly under the sign, and instead will turn my attention to the end of the scene. Throughout the entire movie, we are shown that Elle is entirely incompetent with boys. She has never had a boyfriend, and we see her first kiss on screen as it happens.

Noah himself comments on her inexperience. While they kiss under the sign, Noah says that they do not need to have sex at that moment, completely aware that, days before, he was her first kiss. But Elle initiates having sex with him, and that's the last we see of Elle's established innocence. While I'm all for a woman deciding when she is ready, the entire situation appears rushed, and seems to portray that her relationship or her status as Noah's girlfriend will not be secure unless they have sex.

Finally, I intend to bring Noah's character under scrutiny on the whole. He is meant to be the leather jacket-wearing brooding tough guy that any teenage rom-com needs. However, in hindsight, we don't know much about his character other than that he likes to make out with girls, that he has a motorcycle, and that he gets into a lot of fights. The final point has several implications, including a history of anger-issues that never have any ramifications on the plot, and are there only to make him the bad boy figure. At one point, Lee asks Elle if Noah hit her.

While watching, I it was impossible to not ask myself why Lee jumped to this conclusion about his own brother. But is there ever an explanation? No. This is treated as regular behavior, I suppose. Because boys will be boys, according to the movie, who get into serious fights with one another, might hit their girlfriends sometimes, and treat girls like they are disposable and their to touch whenever they want.

That is the message the movie underscores, and it is wrong on both accounts. Both are not these hormonal beings of selfishness and rage, and girls are not objects to be ogled at. Considering Netflix's "13 Reasons Why," which addresses sexual assault on males as well as females, I suppose that I expected more. In any case, this is not a movie that I will watch again, nor would I recommend it to anyone else.

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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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