Oh, me and my big ideas.
In my last post, intrigued by a British survey that found men and women to have distinctively different top 5 lists for “the books that changed my life,” I asked the readers of this blog to cite the top 5 movies that changed their lives. I was curious to see if we’d be as gender-stereotypical with films as they were with books (the Brit survey responders came up with two completely different lists that fit traditional/conventional expectations).
What I didn’t factor in was the Men-Are-Wusses factor. While 15 women stepped up to the plate, only 3 men met the challenge, thus confirming the old men-can't-communicate cliché. I know I did caveat this in advance, saying it would be an “extremely unscientific” survey, but forget about finding any grandiose observations about gender and culture here. What I’m left with can perhaps be best summarized as: Which Movies Most Profoundly Affected a Vaguely Representative Sample of the Film-Literate Female Readers of This Blog.
In looking over the results, I’ll merely note that as always, women are consistently surprising and congenitally unpredictable. Only one movie made more than two lists, making it by default the # 1 Women's Most Life-Changing Movie: Say Anything.
It’s perhaps the only easily guess-able entry. Cited by Entertainment Weekly as the favorite romantic comedy of contemporary Americans, Cameron Crowe’s teen rom-com classic has clearly had a pervasive effect on (or, done the most damage to) today’s women, by installing the uber-romantic Lloyd Dobler in their fantasy lives (and giving men another impossible role model to fail to live up to -- thanks, Lloyd!).
Having already extensively gone into the Dobler Effect in a previous post, I’ll just note a trend in this context, and an anomaly. Say Anything features a male protagonist – one of four movies (literally half) of the Top 8 to do so. The oddball factor? Say Anything is the only romantic comedy to make that list. And out of some 60 movies cited, only 8 qualify as genuine rom-coms, thus flying in the face of conventional (sexist?) expectations.
When Harry Met Sally… sure. But Friday the 13th? The latter supports the report I cited in the last post re: the current rising female demographic for splatter movies, but what's one to make of the inclusion of a man’s-man movie like Planet of the Apes?
That sci-fi fave, by the way, was one of 3 crossover titles. Draw your own conclusions, but Apes, The Big Chill, and the runners-up list’s #4 were the only movies to appear on both genders' lists.
Here, at any rate, are the other titles that appeared in more than one woman's Top 5, yielding 7 Other Movies That Changed Women’s Lives:
- All About Eve
- Dead Poet’s Society
- On the Waterfront
- The Poseidon Adventure
- The Wizard of Oz
Wizard, of course, has Dorothy, and a kind of ultimate Heroine’s Adventure that's engrained itself in the consciousness of generations of Little Women. Poseidon has… Shelley Winters. Thoughts?
On the Waterfront delivers a kind of mythic Sensitive Guy, and there’s the Noble Cause of it all, along with Eve Marie Saint’s quintessential Nurturer (and some genuinely hot eroticism between her and Brando). Dead Poets, similarly, is Sensitive Guys cubed, with its truly romantic notion (jocks who learn to love poetry) perhaps making a female pulse beat faster.
Of Jaws, I’ll be most curious to hear your opinions. Perhaps a precursor to the above-cited Real Girls Love Splatter movement?
All About Eve makes perfect sense to me. Just think of Bette Davis saying Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night (hmm, wonder what the gay contingent crossover list might look like) to evoke the delicious campy drama incarnate here. But I’d also wager that the central rivalry between young opportunist and aging diva may have a certain… resonance for the ladies in the house.
Finally, we come to Ripley: Lt. Ellen Ripley, that is, and if there was ever a more compelling embodiment of Girl Power… I’d like to date her (at least once). I love that women love Ripley, and while acknowledging the obvious (i.e. that Aliens is actually the superior movie, and even more femme-centric), I completely get how Sigourney Weaver’s first appearance as this heroine for the ages in Alien must have rocked many a young woman’s world.
Will we ever see more of her? Ms. Weaver speaks to that question, in a brief but interesting interview. Alien also tops this apropos and intriguing rundown of 25 Greatest Girl Power Pics (Living Rom-Com readers cited Chicken Run, Thelma & Louise, Amelie and Sixteen Candles from that list, as well).
And as a sop to the brave and stalwart men who participated in my little survey, here’s the kind of eye-candy that has aroused the um, manhood of generations of geeks. Girl Power is not, of course, just for girls. Guys, take a look at these Babes of Sci-Fi-dom… and dream.