Chick Flicks, Ick Flicks, and Sick Flicks

In the modern movie lexicon, the term ‘chick flick” has achieved a recent, rampant popularity. Aside from its inherent condescension, its primary difficulty is the implication that men and women are naturally and universally attracted to very different kinds of movies. Actually, the mass marketers of pop trash pictures have become the new Hollywood tastemakers by influencing manufacture of similar formula fare for both sexes, although separately targeted to male and female audiences. “Dick flicks,” meanwhile, represents the egregious double standard of screen nudity where the penis is virtually never visible yet wields a disproportionate ghostly influence. (In the genre archetype, the 1986 Reagan-era war propaganda film, Top Gun, America’s patriotic flyboys get erections going into battle.) This paper will discuss modern films that smash stereotypes and increase our understanding of gender while expanding a sense of community between men and women, as in two remarkable personal documentaries, Kate Davis’s Southern Comfort and Utahan Paul Larsen’s Chasing a Good Day to Die. Among other films examined are What Women Want, Ocean’s 11, The Sweetest Thing, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, The Importance of Being Earnest, My First Mister, I Am Sam, Kissing Jessica Stein, and The Son’s Room.

Paul Swenson, Geoff Pingree