Friday, November 21, 2014

Tammy Totally Reps

               Tammy tells the hilarious story of a woman who has hit rock bottom is trying to find her out. Uncommonly, the solution to Tammy’s problems is not a man, but finding herself and saving her grandmother from herself. This idea seems almost radical considering its lack of feature on the big screen.  A mix of this idea and untraditional and non-stereotypical characters, Tammy passes the Representation Test with flying colors scoring a high A (13 points), which measures a film’s societal impact or commitment to change.

               Tammy checks off most of the boxes on the Representation Test, but gains most of its points from the Woman section. In reality, the film is very woman oriented with all main characters being female. Tammy, the protagonist of Tammy, is a female protagonist. She is not a woman of extreme beauty, fitness, or shape; in all honesty, not only is Tammy a non-stereotypical lead but she is also a very unfamiliar body type for the big screen especially for a woman.  Gaetti, from Understanding Movies agrees with the typical mold asserting, “good looks and sex appeal have always been the conspicuous traits of most film stars”. The idea of Tammy breaking all the common molds for women in film goes along with what the theme the storyline portrays: Tammy teaches that a women’s way out should not be a man and that in order to make something of yourself or to make your way up in life, your only option is solely to work hard. The film’s emphasis on this idea also helps Tammy check off the rep-test that a woman is not presented as solely an “object for male gazers.” Tammy is not bursting with sex appeal, but she is also funny and strong. The film also checks off “passing the Bechtel test” which mostly comes from the conversations of Tammy and her grandmother as they are learning about each other and helping each other to grow.

               In terms of men, Tammy does not check off as many. Tammy does avoid “glorifying violent men” and “perpetuating an extreme and unhealthy body ideal for mean”. However there is a general lack of men having conversation without a woman. Tammy has mostly main characters being female with the male holding supporting smaller roles. These supporting roles are rather untraditional making it able to mark off another rep-test. The man Tammy ends up with, Billy is an example of this. Billy takes after his parents including his father, who drinks too much, and his mother, who is very sick, even though they are both separated. He is an uncommon nice guy who is not extremely attractive or even remotely smooth. When trying to compliment her says “It’s not that you’re a catch, not that your not a catch, but my life is boring, and you’re not boring.” This exemplifies how Billy very much breaks the mold of what most men in film want from woman. Billy wants her for her personality not her looks. Tammy is also very representative for the LGBT People as the film features many lesbians, whom are very diverse, and whom are not reduced to stereotypes. An example of this is Lenore, the cousin of Tammy’s grandmother, whom the film gets to know very well. She not only is a main character but she also is a strong woman, who has made a life for herself, and teaches Tammy that ‘life isn’t fair” and that the only way to make it is to work hard. This promotes a very positive message for the lesbian community, as a lesbian is made to be hard working, intelligent, and in touch with the world which is not a typical role for lesbians in film. Tammy also checks off in Race, Ethnicity, and Culture as there are no celebrated offensive racial, ethnic, or cultural stereotypes but there are also not too many races featured in the movie. Lastly, the film does feature a person with diabetes whose “storyline [is] not limited to [her] disability.

          The Representation Test is supposed to measure a film’s contribution to change or cultural impact. In terms of Tammy the representation test is accurate in that it is very successful in representing most groups and presenting a positive image of those groups. This shows how in order to pass the test with a high score; a film must be very successful in representing many groups and elements very well. The more groups presented to a certain level, the higher the score. Essentially, the rep test asserts that if all films could include all the test’s diverse elements then a change in society would result. However, it is also possible that a film could be very successful in representing one group or category, and could change for that group.If each group were represented solely by a film, then all together they would also have cultural impact. This goes with the idea of “separate we fall, united we stand.” With many films specialized for change in different areas, all together they would successfully represent. But with the reptest if a film is very strong in presenting woman as equal to a man but lacks in many races, alternate sexuality, and disabilities, it will not score well. How can the test not grade a film that’s emphasis is on a commitment to change for woman in society well in cultural impact because it lacks in showing other groups? How could a film that represents gay men as being athletic not be graded high for its contribution to change because it does not feature females? Though the rep test grades well for movie with overall different groups, it disincentives producing a film that’s focus for change is society is centered only on one group. In evaluating films, it must be noted that society views many a year: not all films must contribute to change for all films, but all the films together must cause change for all groups.

               In closing, Tammy rocks because it shows a strong woman, teaches that a man is not the end goal, that you shouldn’t rob a fast food joint, no matter how desperate you are, and keeps you laughing the whole way through. And on top of all that, it asks for gender equality and acceptance of all people while passing the impossible rep test. Therefor I am giving Tammy 5 pickles.
Ashley Smith

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