Wednesday, March 29, 2006

What came first the chick or the flick

Your mate rolls his eyes. Your girl friend grimaces. The latest chick flick has been released and you want to see it.

A certain disapproving tone accompanies the term. If you enjoy chick flicks it is like being put on the stand for a cross examination by a tough prosecutor. You’d better have a good defence prepared.

For a phrase so freely used by both genders, does anyone know how to define a chick flick? The elusive definition seems to change with each person: from romantic comedy to weepy, melodrama. For others it is "Thelma and Louise."

Chick flicks were once women’s films. Classics like "All About Eve," "His Girl Friday" and "The Women" fell under this term. Somewhere along the line the phrase morphed into the more derogatory chick flick.

O magazine released a list of the 50 greatest chick flicks that included such varied titles as "Notorious," "Aliens," "Pretty Woman" and "The English Patient." It seems the only defining factor of a chick flick is that it centres on one or more women. Does that mean every movie focusing on a male protagonist is a guy movie?

As a genre it isn’t easily definable. Western or horror films have recognisable elements, but the chick flick is too broad to put into a box. It can have tears, laughs or scares and fit into numerous genres. If anything all the term does is continue to perpetuate the stereotypes of gender roles and keep things in happy complacany.

Romantic comedies are the films most often slapped with the chick flick label. Even the best romantic comedy, truly great films like "When Harry Met Sally" will be condescendingly referred to as "not that bad for a chick flick."

As a male I'm quite fond of romantic comedies, so what does that mean? Does this mean I'm less of a man? Perhaps if we just pull off the silly label men can get over their machismo and admit they enjoy a so-called chick flick without fear of ridicule.

Then again maybe this is too lofty a dream. Best to get together and just watch some flicks.

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