Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sister, Sister

Lena is going to Greece to visit her grandparents, Bridget is going to soccer camp, Carmen is heading to her fathers, and Tibby is working at Walmens, but how will these inseparable best friends tell each other about the boys they meet and the difficulties they faced? The answer was in a magical pair of jeans. While they were shopping one day they found a pair of jeans that fit the slender, long body of Bridget; the short legs of Lena; the long legs and wide hips of Tibby; and the short, stocky body of Carmen. Sister of the Traveling Pants tells the story of four best friends who take separate paths for the summer, but stay in contact through a pair of pants. Each sister is faced with a different battle, for some it was love and for others it was loss, but they are only able to face these difficulties when they band together and rely on one another. This film scored twelve points on the Representation Test, and served to give light to the female character in non-stereotypical ways.

            Although not perfect in its representation of woman, this film is powerful in showcasing woman of different sizes, races, and likes. Geena Davis in Miss Representation stated, “Between 1987 and 2005, they were only thirteen female protagonists in animated movies.” This film was produced in 2005, and featured four female protagonists. Each of the four protagonists has clear strengths and flaws, but they work to balance off of each other. For instance, Tibby is not your typical blond hair, blues eyes, shockingly beautiful girl like Bridget, but she is one of the most self-confident characters in the film, where Bridget is arguably the most lost, uncertain characters. The film showcases four girls that each carry a variety of different talents, and it capitalizes on using their differences to show their strengths. I think that this film earned the score that it received on the representation test, but that does not mean there are parts of the film that limit it from earning more points.
            Carmen is one character who drew points away from the test because she was stereotyped against due to her Puerto Rican background. In one scene in the film, she is trying on bridesmaid’s dresses for her father’s wedding and does not fit in the dress. After being publically humiliated about it not fitting her body, she burst out of the dressing room and makes it clear to her step-mother that she is not built the same as her daughter, rather she was born with a larger backside. Carmen is the only protagonist that is a different race than white, and her race is used against her throughout the course of the film. Another character that took points away from the final score was Bridget and her lack of clothes on multiple occasions. In one scene she is running on the beach wearing a sports bra and spandex, not too mention she was running next to her trainer who she ends up kissing later in the film. Gloria Steinem in Miss Representation talked about women critiquing and downgrading their appearance every time they walk in front of mirror, and the impact that other woman have on criticizing others appearance.  Carmen represents someone who criticizes herself for her image, while Bridget represents the skinny, beautiful girl who everyone should strive to be like.

            Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is one example of a film that deserved the score it received.  However, I believe that there are many films who received a score that does not reflect the content of the film simply because they chose to have a male protagonist, rather than a disabled or homosexual character. I believe that the lack of roles that woman play in films is shocking and the way that woman are exposed and valued is degrading, but I do not think that this test is realistic in nature.  The majority of films produced have a male protagonist, and that is not likely to change because they make money. I think that woman should focus their time less on being the led actor and more on the demeanor that films give woman. For me, I do not care whether the lead actor is a man or a woman, but I do care when a man is after a woman’s body, or a when a woman is wearing so little clothing she might as well be wearing nothing, or when a man hits a woman and takes advantage of her. I do not think that this test takes into account the supporting actors or the way that woman, disabled people, or homosexuals are treated.  I think that Cory Booker in Miss Representation said it well when he said that a woman told him that she could not believe how difficult it is for men in America.  Although I hope that woman will one day receive equal rights and representation as men, I do think that we overlook how difficult it is to be a man; they cannot express emotion without being seen as soft and they are taught to not be vulnerable because men are tough and handle things themselves.
            In my opinion Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants earned the score it received because it took a dynamic stance on the female characters. The film feature four female protagonists each with a different set of characteristics. This opened an eye to a variety of different woman and the power in each of them.  I would rate this film a five out of five pickles because the score well represented the content in the film. Although not perfect in nature, it gave points where points were due.

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