Fighting with the Sky

The Truth About the Ugly Truth

Posted on: July 6, 2009

I have been seeing trailers for the upcoming movie “The Ugly Truth” all the time as of late. The movie pretty much looks like one sexist stereotype and perpetuation of gender norms after another. Watch the trailer here:

Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler play gross stereotypes of women and men. Heigl is a desperate woman trying to find love wherever she can where as Butler is ego maniac “man whore,” as Heigl calls him. According to the movie, women have to wear sexy clothes and be sexually available for a man to like them. While this is not only clearly offensive to women, it is offensive to men as well. Saying that men are only capable of liking women who lack substance and their willingness to have sex with them also demeans men by saying that they are incapable of a meaningful relationship outside of the bedroom.

The movie proclaims that women are desperate for love, desire to be desired (because women have no independent desires of their own), and that women need to change themselves for men to like them – because men would obviously never love someone who was strong and intelligent, only hot and shallow. And yet, the movie is trying to portray itself as some form of empowerment. It seems to me that the movie is trying to show that women can take control of their lives and find love. Yet Heigl is not taking control of her life. Butler is telling her what to do in her love life.

This really got to me when I read “Katherine Heigl Furthers Feminist Agenda With Ugly Truth Vibrating Panties Sequence,” an article on Movie Line about how “The Ugly Truth” is a feminist movie.

It’s something of a relief to see Katherine Heigl using her newfound box office clout to forward empowering images of women in the roles she chooses. Take for example The Ugly Truth, a Columbia romantic comedy coming out later this month in which she proves a worthy foe to Spartan warrior Gerard Butler in a war of the sexes.

I cannot speak to what actually happens in the movie (but we can all assume that Heigl and Butler fall in love), but the trailer does not seem to show Heigl as being a “worthy foe” to Butler. I see her following what Butler tells her to do in order to find love. Where is she standing up to him other than saying that he’s being gross and then doing what he says anyways?

How does Movie Line see this as empowering? Seth Abramovitch, the author of the article, believes the empowering natures lies in the scene where Heigl is given an orgasm through vibrating panties, therefore showing that “women don’t need men to be happy.”

Nevermind the fact that it is a young boy who finds the controller for the vibrating panties, which is just weird and disturbing on multiple levels. Abramovitch is strongly misled in the feminist agenda if he thinks that vibrating panties are a good way to bring feminism to mainstream media. So the rigid gender norms and sexism in the movie is all cancelled out by a three minute scene that may or may not be feminist? Also, I find it kind of insulting that a man is determining what is and is not empowering for women. And assuming that what is empowering for one woman is empowering for all women.

Finally, let’s take a look at the movie poster for “The Ugly Truth.” The movie poster just reinforces the gender norms that the movie portrays. Women think/feel/love with their heads, men think/feel/love with their genitals. Women can’t do anything based solely on sexual desire. Men can’t do anything based on their or others intelligence.

I was surprised when I found out this movie was rated R. That means that it’s not just another romantic comedy. It means that it will be full of crude humor, often at women’s expense (at least I’m assuming). Making “The Ugly Truth” rated R is just another way to get sexism into the movie through crude and sexual humor.

I haven’t yet decided if I am going to see this movie or not. On the one hand, it disturbs/disgusts me with its gender norms and sexism. On the other hand, I’d like to see how these things play out in the actual movie. While I can guess the plot of the movie, I enjoy seeing how women, men, and society in general are portrayed in popular culture, especially through movies and television (‘enjoy’ might not be the right word, but it intrigues me). Maybe I could have a better understanding of how Abramovitch sees the movie as empowering and feminist, although I highly doubt it. I’m intrigued by the movie, but I don’t really want to financially support something that I can see this sexism in the trailer.


4 Responses to "The Truth About the Ugly Truth"

I find this annoying as well, and I agree with what you said. I'd like to think that men and women aren't this way. I honestly don't know many (if any) people who are like this …shallow and whose only concerns in a relationship are appearance and desire. It's funny because when I saw the trailer on television and noticed it was rated R, I thought the same thing as you. Anyway, interesting post.

Hey, I'm the one who wrote the article about this on the F Bomb. This is so awesome! You addressed so many other points that were on my mind. :)Also, the quote you put in the beginning of this post brings up another point I hadn't thought of before. Don't you feel that anything that has a "battle of the sexes" in it is inherently NOT feminist? After all, feminism is not about pitting men and women against each other and having women be victorious; it's about having men and women be equal, so that a "battle of the sexes" would be unheard of.

"Also, I find it kind of insulting that a man is determining what is and is not empowering for women."…and you lost me.Two wrongs don't make a right.


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