Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Easy A



It ain't easy being easy, especially for Olive, who just "lost" her virginity in the girls bathroom.

Easy A is full of surprises as it takes on double standards.  Specifically that one about women's sexuality that separates the virgins from the whores and leaves nothing in-between.  Yes, when it comes to the v-card, you either got it, or you don't, and societal reactions vary by gender. 

Those principles are put in perspective by a rather jaded principal; "If I can keep the girls off the pole and the boys off the pipe, I get a raise."

See, both represent rock-bottom scenarios; both imply a complete lack of moral character.  His message is clear-- overtly sexual women are a menace to society, as despicable as drug addicts.  And unfortunately, many people (men and women) share his sexist opinions about promiscuity.  

Purity is deeply rooted in religion, so Easy A incorporates a discussion about Christianity that is reminiscent of Saved.  (But Amanda Bynes is certainly no Mandy Moore as Bynes is more irritating than evil.)  This film also ties in commentary about homosexuality, or more importantly, sanctioned homophobia that would drive a young man so deep into the closet, he would publicly fake his own first (hetero)sexual conquest.

Other supporting roles I would applaud are the frenemy- "just because you lost your virginity doesn't mean you can go around throwing your cat at everybody"- the caring teacher, and the supportive parents.  All are necessary components in this twisted tale of a smart, confident, "A-typical" teenage girl.

This movie serves as a reminder that much of high school is spent pretending; boys pretend they are rounding the bases every night while girls pretend they have never set foot on the field.  And, as those of us with a diploma already know, graduation doesn't change much.

Now, to switch gears, I have a few bones to pick.

First, Olive (Emma Stone) wears a red "A"-- an intentional nod to The Scarlett Letter, when she never actually commits adultery.  In fact, she never does anything, except facilitate rumors.  So a single-virgin-minor brands herself to protest a theocratic punishment from the 17th century that wouldn't apply to her specific offenses anyway?  This is confusing.  Or maybe just overly dramatic.

Secondly, Olive is a strong female lead.  Yet, she is unable to redeem herself or make peace with her soiled reputation without the assistance of a "Prince Charming" who whisks her away on a lawnmower before the credits role.  Perhaps the ending would have made a larger impact if Olive had remained daring and dateless from beginning to end?  But then what's a happy ending heteronormative monogamy?

While the  pros and cons are debatable, Easy A has earned some rave reviews in the feminist community; check out Annie Shields and her response that critiques both the film and its critics.  So is this movie feminist?  Does Olive give a show-stopping performance that leaves audiences wondering if Stone might be co-starring with Cher in Burlesque?  Yes.  And yes.

Thought-provoking and laugh-out-loud funny, you're gonna wanna catch this one while it's still in theaters.  And then grade it for yourself.

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