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Throwback Thursday with Easy A

I’ve been doing a bit of subtle rebranding lately. I didn’t make a big announcement about it (unless you’re my partner, Edward, who has patiently listened to me scheme for weeks). I just decided that since no one was hiring writers right now, I’d hire myself. I’d pay myself nothing, but I expected myself to show up to my couch on time every day to work. It’s not a great system, I find myself frequently showing up late for work, but it’s nice to have purpose. Part of the rebranding is online wordpress school (free courses, since I don’t pay myself), learning to code, brushing up on my SEO, and organizing this blog which up until now has been a smattering of my random thoughts on the internet with about six loyal readers. I love you, six readers, you are the reason I get out of bed in the morning.

As I learn how to make a blog that looks nice (so as not to assault my six loyal readers’ eyes) I’m adding a bit of structure to what I write. Instead of random thoughts about old movies and television, I’m trying to stay hip and current. I’ve been following the Netflix trends and seeing what movies my friends are chatting about on facebook, reading reviews online and in general trying to keep up with the times.

I cannot, however, regulate myself to only what is trending. I started Reviews For No Reason because I needed to get my writing magic back, and I like writing about movies, television, and music. Well, honestly, I like ranting about all of those things. Good media follows us throughout our lives; the movies and books that influence us are the ones that we can relate to our own experiences. The longer they are relevant to us, the more meaning they accrue in our lives. So I can’t just write about the new stuff, I need to really rant about the old stuff. And to quote the subject of my first official Hashtag Throwback Thursday blog article – “What better way to share my private thoughts than to broadcast them on the internet?”

Maybe in my free wordpress school they’ll teach me how to leave a GIF here of a big celebration with confetti coming down. Just imagine a sound bite with one of those exciting announcement horns. PEW! PEW PEW PEW PEW!!! That’s right folks, we’re watching Easy A.

One time I saw Romeo and Juliet listed as one of Shakespeare’s comedies. When I asked my Sophomore English Teacher about it she shrugged and said “probably because of the comedic relief.” I was incredibly annoyed that she didn’t bother to contradict that categorization, but not as annoyed as I am now that I realize I’ve been walking around for the last eleven years thinking Easy A was a comedy.

Dear six loyal readers – Easy A IS NOT a comedy. It is a trainwreck of patriarchy, sexual repression, and failed pedagogy disguised as a cautionary tale with a few laughs stuck between dialogue that is strung together by white liberal cliches. It felt like someone wanted to recreate 10 Things I Hate About You for a new decade so they took the idea from Hawthorne’s “A Scarlet Letter” and put it in a mixing bowl with troupes from rom coms and high school misfit movies, covered the whole thing with a thick layer of sarcasm and sent it out in the world to wreak havoc.

Do not get me wrong, Emma Stone slays in this movie. She nails the part. Her stellar acting is probably why we’ve all been fooled into thinking that Easy A was a good movie all this time. She falls into this category of quirky/cute/weird that’s famously capitalized on by Zoey Deschanel and “New Girl” (I have more to say on the quirky cute thing, but I’ll save that for Manic Mondays). Penn Badgley is another standout from this movie, he is capitalizing on the “boy next door” vibe that so many of us fantasized about. (By us I mean me – it’s why women still drool over his character in You, but I digress, that’s for another Manic Monday. Can I put parenthesis in parenthesis?)

Despite Stone’s incredible acting talent and Badgley’s raw sexual chemistry, something just didn’t sit right with me when I was watching it this time. Whenever I feel off like this about a movie, I like to look up the crew. I want to know who directed and wrote the film because I find that very informative. Watching this movie about a teenage girl getting used and abused before finding her voice so that she can be with the guy that holds speakers on a lawn mower in her front yard was, shockingly, written and directed by men. While the movie does a good job at showcasing the obvious flaws in our societal thinking – like the double standard in Olive getting judged for being a slut while the men walk free – there are so many subtle digs that I just can’t walk away from this ninety minute horror movie unscathed.

The premise of this movie is that Olive tells a little white lie to get out of camping with her friend, and the situation snowballs until the entire school thinks that she’s “a huge slut”. When she can’t stop the rumor she plays into it, because she thinks it’s ridiculous and she’s trying to prove that she doesn’t care what people think about her. She snaps when one of her classmates calls her an “abominable tramp” and calls that girl an “abominable twat” and gets sent to the principal’s office. FIRST, only she’s sent to the office for using the world “twat” – her bully who clearly instigated the interaction is not punished or reprimanded. Then the principal tells her that if he “can keep the girls off the pole and the boys off the pipe, [he] gets a bonus” and that if she threatens his clean records he’ll expel her to keep his numbers up. Cringe #1.

She’s put in detention with Brandon (Dan Byrd) who is there because he was being beat up by a classmate for being gay. Just in case we needed another reason to hate this principal. Olive tells Brandon that he should pretend to be straight in order to survive high school. Cringe #2. Brandon decides that she’s on to something and he asks her to say that she had sex with him so that he doesn’t keep getting beaten up. She says no, she says it a thousand times, but he persists until she agrees. Cringe #3.

I lose track of the cringe moments when a montage begins of boys paying Olive in gift cards to say that they had sexual interactions with her. When she tries to say no, at the beginning of the string of men taking advantage of her, the guy says”I don’t need your permission you know. At the rate you’re going I don’t see how people won’t believe it.” She is put in a position of accepting that abuse in an attempt to control her narrative, and the entire time she’s being slut shamed and no one is willing to hear her side of the story. Not her schoolmates, not her best friend, not even the school guidance counselor. That principal must have been fostering THE most toxic work environment because his office’s student assistants are pious bullies and the guidance counselor, Mrs. Griffith (Lisa Kudrow), has zero interest in helping the students or hearing what is going on with Olive. In fact, when it’s convenient for Griffith she lets the student she’s sleeping with pin the clamidia that he got from her on Olive.

Olive seems to find solace in playing in to the rumors, as if it’s her coping mechanism. It stops being a game to her when one of the boys gives her a $200 Home Depot gift card and tries to pay her for actual sex, not just the rumor of it. When she says no he gets super rapey and eventually peels out of the parking lot, leaving her in the dark to find her own way home.

I’m not sure if this is a bad movie or if it is just entirely comprised of hateable characters. The overwhelming tone of sarcasm that goes through the whole movie makes me think that they’re trying to make a statement and be clever, but it just left me feeling triggered. It might be time to put this one to bed, it’s leaving Netflix in three days (on February 28) so you still have time to watch it and either agree with me or start a fight. I’m down for either, six readers, come at me.

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