Monday, June 02, 2014

In Defense of Blondes

I confess that "Legally Blonde" and "Clueless" are two movies I love so much that I consider the mere knowledge that they are playing somewhere on TV an order to plunk down and watch them.  (See also "Bring it On".)  But I feel like there is a fundamental misunderstanding on the part of some people as to what these movies are about. 
Some people seem to think these movies are about ditzes or bimbos who triumph over people who think they are smarter.  When, in my opinion, these movies are about people who focused their energies on specific things - be it money, clothes, boyfriends, or meddling - and then, made a decision to re-focus their energies.  Elle doesn't manage to get into law school due to luck (I mean, okay, there was a little luck, and a little movie magic in getting into a school when acceptance letters had already gone out). Elle, as she says, has a high GPA.  Yes, it's in fashion merchandising, but that's because her original life plan was to get married and help the world be beautiful.  When Warner shows her that people don't take her seriously because she's pretty, she decides to prove she knows how to be serious by his definition.  And yes, in the end Elle's knowledge of hair care (and of who would be more likely to recognize her shoes) helps crack the case, but Elle had already figured out that the law had it's uses when she was able to help Pauline get her dog back from her ex-boyfriend. 
Similarly, yes, Cher decides to try to pay attention to world news when she realizes she has a thing for Josh, but she also had been getting good grades previously, although in her case, by bargaining her way into them.  Now, sure, Cher lacks self awareness, and has moments of selfishness and narcissism,  but none of this is because she's not smart enough to think big.  We could argue (debate, even) over the efficiency of Cher's process of pulling average grades and bargaining up versus studying a little harder, but she's found a way to her goal.  (And I say this having rolled my eyes repeatedly in biology class over the classmates who argued every point on every test.) Now Cher does learn to think outside herself and to help others without expecting satisfaction of seeing people take her advice, but again, this is Cher gaining wisdom about the world, not intelligence. 
Both "Legally Blonde" and "Clueless" play on the expectations that people have of blonde females, and both blondes are also not hurting for money and seem to have experienced minimal adversity in their lives so far.  But it saddens me when people tell me that "Legally Blonde" is about a ditz who snuck her way into law school, or suggest that "Clueless" is about a girl too stupid to understand immigration reform.  Both movies are about young women who demonstrate that with optimism and determination you can exceed the expectations that people have for you.