"There is difference and there is power. And who holds the power decides the meaning of the difference." --June Jordan

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Another Thing About The Ugly Truth

So, in seems that nobody in the feminist blogosphere is excited about this movie, so I don't think I need to try to warn anyone about it at this point. But Miranda at Women's Glib posted an excerpt of its hilariously scathing New York Times review, and something about the film struck me as especially ominous:
Katherine Heigl plays Abby, a producer for a ratings-challenged Sacramento morning television show, the kind that specializes in empty smiles, cooking tips and weather updates. She’s single and therefore, in the moral economy of modern Hollywood, unhappy. Her life goes into a tailspin when her boss hires a professional ape, Mike (Gerard Butler), who delivers loutish maxims on camera about the sexes that basically all boil down to this: Men have penises, and women should accommodate them any which way they can, preferably in push-up bras and remote-controlled vibrating panties.

…Ms. Heigl doesn’t do perky all that persuasively, but she does keep her smile and relative dignity even in scenes in which Abby is forced to play the fool, which is often, as when she’s hanging upside down from a tree in her skivvies. She even survives the scene that finds Abby writhing spasmodically during a dinner with her corporate masters, because, well, she’s wearing those pulsating panties, the boy at the next table has the remote, and there’s nothing funnier (or, really, scarier) than the spectacle of female pleasure.

Uhh, did you catch that? I haven't seen this film or this scene, and I realize that everyone with an interest in denying sexism in all its forms goes completely apeshit and whines when a feminist dares to criticize a film before she's seen the whole thing, but the description of the scenario in the review that I put in bold just does not sit well with me. Because, except in the extremely unlikely event that Heigl's character donned these vibrating panties, specifically gave the remote to the guy controlling them and said, "Please use this remote control as much as you want during my dinner with my work associates, and here's my safe word in case I decide at any point that I want you to stop", this scenario describes a sexual assault. And sexual assault is not funny.

Call me a humorless feminist, but I don't feel like going to a theater to see a film where the audience is cracking up at someone's sexual assault.


minako said...


I had already decided not to see this film because of the premise that a single woman is inherently unhappy and she has to jump through hoops and change herself to find a man who will put up with her.

I'm one of the many who wrote a blog post about it. In general, I just wish that Hollywood would try doing something intelligent with comedies instead of the same old tired battle-of-the-sexism.

Jeff Fecke said...

This movie appears to be made of fail; the "ugly truth" is that this movie appears to be about some alien species who doesn't act or think like actual humans, male or female.

Miranda said...


Brooklyn said...

Living in a town where there is a definite lack of quality film choices, I went to see "The Ugly Truth" for...sociological purposes. I was curious to see how bad it was. There was no "Away We Go" or "500 Days of Summer" or "Whatever Works"...my options were this or "The Hangover." Slim pickings.

Immediately upon entering the theater I realized I should have purchased a ticket for the new Harry Potter flick instead of this one--so as not to add to its opening weekend gross earnings. Oh well. Something to keep in mind for the next time I find myself in such a predicament.

The scene you've described here IS ridiculous--but in the interest of full disclosure, a child found the vibrating panty remote on the floor and started playing with it unknowingly. The "joke" is that Butler's character realizes this after Heigel's character is 'en route to ecstasy' but does nothing about it--thus ensuring an uncomfortable corporate conversation.

What I found more revolting was the fact that Butler's character brought with him to the aforementioned dinner, two women from the show, "the fun-bag twins" in order to woo his corporate suitor. The "fun-bag twins" dutifully fulfill their role as eye candy and sexual objects as they fawn over the older gentleman and if I'm remembering correctly, leave with him.

All in all, as you can well imagine, this movie was a hot mess. The reason behind the "ugly" douchebag's mentality is, predictably, multiple women who broke his heart and made him realize he could never fall in love. When this is revealed as though it's epiphany, as if having a few failed relationships justify completely disrespectful and reductive behavior, it's enough to nauseate you.

Tracey said...

Thanks, Brooklyn. Well, while I'm slightly relieved to hear the "controlling" isn't being done overtly maliciously by a grown man, the whole thing still sounds completely cringeworthy. And Butler's character knowingly letting it continue while laughing about it still makes him responsible for not putting a stop to it.

Anonymous said...

As a feminist, I did not enjoy the movie. But I was surprised by a few lines in the movie that made me question whether the film had an entirely anti-woman message. For example, the vibrator. The "sexist" antagonist says, "If you don't want to have sex with you, nobody else will either." I thought it meant that if you are not comfortable experiencing pleasure, if you don't think your worth it or beautiful, nobody else will.

And the awful truth guy at one point mentioned women should fake orgasms. In the last scene when the protagonist and antagonist are shot having sex, the chick is making all these moaning noises, "Oh you're so good...oooh!" And he asks, "Am I really good?" And she says, "You'll never know." That was the last scene. It is almost saying that if men put all these expectations on women, women can possess a hidden power. I couldn't quite decide what I thought about that last line, "You'll never know." But it proves that honesty is important. If men place false expectations, they will get false results. They will never know.

And the woman also eventually rejects all the rules that the awful truth guy places upon her. Removes her hairpiece, starts going back to being her control freak self, and dumps her boyfriend that loved her for the wrong reasons. The anti-feminist man falls in love with her for being herself. "I am in love with you, I don't know why, but I am." It points out men are attracted to powerful women, for some unknown reason, and that is ok. He loves her even though she is not an agreeable, passive, perfect woman.

I did, overall, find the film a bit disgusting. But I don't think we can dismiss it quite so easily.

CheckeredFoxglove said...

Thanks for that. I'll be sure to avoid this movie. This very thing that you're avoiding happened to me a few weeks ago when I want to a play that was ostensibly a comedy, only it ended with Suddenly Sexual Assault. And of course, everybody's laughing. I mean, what the hell.