Thursday, June 26, 2014

Match Maid in Heaven

"No matter who you are, destiny will find you."

Maid in Manhattan is a movie about a single mother working as a maid at a luxury hotel in New York City. Jennifer Lopez plays the main character, Marisa Ventura. Marisa is struggling to raise her ten-year-old son. She is also in the process of applying for a management position at the hotel. One day, while cleaning a woman’s room, a friend convinces Marisa to try on some very expensive clothes. When she does, Christopher Marshall, a single man running for U.S. Senator, walks into the room. He is automatically attracted to Marisa and assumes she is a guest at the hotel. Marisa pretends to be the rich socialite that is really staying in the room and tells him her name is Caroline. They spend some time together and begin to fall for each other. Christopher is advised not to see her because nobody knows her or anything about her background and associating with her could hurt his reputation and affect the results of the election. Marisa is advised not to see him because it could put her job in danger and she would not get the promotion if anyone found out. However, they continue to see each other. Eventually, the real Caroline figures out what has been going on and reports Marisa to the hotel manager. Marisa is fired and Christopher is upset that she had been lying. Several weeks later, Chris and Marisa are brought together again. They decide to be together because they both still really like each other, even though the press will be all over them.

Using the Representation Test, this movie scores a B. It received eight points out of a possible twenty-seven. Under the category for women, this movie got two points for having a female protagonist and another point because she is a woman of color (Jennifer Lopez). Even though her character was a single mother working as a maid and living in a rundown borough, Marisa is doing an amazing job of raising her son and is not willing to let her background define who she is or what she is capable of doing. The movie received another point for having multiple women with speaking roles that portray diverse body types. Out of the group of maids that are friends, there are various shapes and sizes and colors. This movie would pass the Bechdel Test because there are multiple scenes where several women are discussing a topic other than men. However, the movie does not have one or more woman of color that is not reduced to a stereotype. I think that all of the women of color are portrayed stereotypically. The women that you see are all maids that are cleaning up after rich socialites to make a living. Under the category for men, the movie scored two points. One point was for not glorifying violent men and the other point was for not perpetuating extreme or unhealthy body types for men. The main male character, played by Ralph Fiennes, is an average looking middle-aged man. There is not more than one male character that is of color and is not reduced to a stereotype. Most of the men in the movie are white. There are also no men that play non-stereotypical parts, such as caregiver. They are business men that tend to be overly devoted to their jobs. The movie did not receive any points for having characters with disabilities or a character that is either lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. However, it did receive a bonus point because the movie was directed by Wayne Wang, a Chinese man.

Having a variety of people portrayed in a positive way gives a movie credibility. It shows that you do not have to be a certain race or like a certain gender to have a good life. If viewers can relate themselves to one of the characters, then that helps build pathos. The audience sees a character going through some of the same struggles they have gone through and then feel emotionally attached to that person. However, if a film portrays a certain race or lifestyle in a negative way, they can get a bad reputation. If people know that movie directors or production companies created a movie that did this, they might be suspicious about future movies they produce and may not go see them, which would end up hurting their logos.

At first, I did not think that this was a fair test because there are so many requirements. It would be extremely difficult to incorporate all of these (or even half of these) elements into one movie. If someone was creating a movie and was going to make sure that all of these items could be checked off, the movie would probably not be very good. It would look over worked. Trying to create a story that incorporates characters with all of these traits would not be able to focus on the humor or typical love connection seen in most movies. However, the movie only needs to score eleven out of twenty-seven points to receive an A. Since that is less than half, I decided that the test was pretty fair. I would give this movie two out of three. 
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