Miss Congeniality (After A Word From Our Sponsor)

OK first two quick promotional items: one, Season 1 of ReMade is on sale for $4.99! Look, they made a gif and everything!

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And two, on Halloween I’m going to randomly give away Season 1 of a Bookburners to ten lucky subscribers to my blog/newsletter hybrid, in a transparent effort to boost my numbers. Mmmm, marketing!

But I can’t just market at you, because this is not what friends do. So instead I’d like to talk about Miss Congeniality, which I saw this weekend for the first time since it came out in theaters.  (Yes, I saw it in a theater.)

 

Movie Thoughts With Andrea

Miss Congeniality is very, very much an artifact of its time. It’s trying hard to do the same things that Legally Blonde did in terms of Grrl Power and social justice, but it has the same muddled stance on it that, frankly, I remember having at the time my own self, and that’s where a lot of its humor is meant to come from. 

I mean, the core conflict is the tension over being a strong-with-the-punching and empowered woman, or living up to an arbitrary beauty ideal. The movie tries to suggest you can do both without giving up the core of who you are. And it tries to show that the society of women can be special, but it doesn’t really earn that. I’d have liked to see the pageant contestants step up into a strong-with-the-punching role as well. Hey, maybe that’s what happens in the sequel? Maybe I’ll have to watch it.

We also have brief mentions of gay and lesbian relationships! Yay, representation! But with a particularly Year 2000 sensibility: a nervous laugh, ha ha this is a thing! Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s not unlike how we see a lot of trans representation done right now in mainstream media. The same nervous laugh, the acknowledgement that this is a way that some people are, and it makes some other people very nervous. But we’re pretty far past that for gay people now, which gives me hope that we’ll get that way for trans rights as well. The window is shifting.

The one thing that surprised me on a rewatch is that the cast is fairly diverse... but there’s no mention of racism at all. Since race is the elephant in the room in the year 2017, that was a little weird and jarring. Maybe that shows we’ve come a long way, too, since there is at least a public conversation about that now?

All that said, Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens is a much more interesting riff on beauty pageant culture, since it’s more from the POV of the actual contestants, and therefore has much less “ha ha can you believe it?! BUTT GLUE!” So maybe read that one instead.

Annnnnnnnnd that’s it for right now. Getting ready to head out to Switzerland. You’ll hear from me soon! 


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