500 Days of Summer– Misogyny, the silent killer?

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When a film develops a backlash it can be for any variety of reasons. Some critic might say that The Dark Knight is an overrated action movie , another might claim that while Russell Crowe is effective in A Beautiful Mind Ron Howard’s direction is pedestrian at best. While I don’t necessarily agree or disagree with these statements and the reasoning behind them, they make sense when placed in critical establishment that is wary of summertime fare and the tepid work of Ron Howard. But what to make of the backlash now brewing against 500 Days of Summer? By chance I became aware of it the same day I saw the film. Researching reviews, I found most critics liked to loved it, and while the film does engage in some obvious clichés, it is not to the detriment of the whole. But this backlash goes further than simple clichés, pouncing on a theme much more sinister: misogyny.

Devin Faraci, a writer for CHUD.com, posted this gem on his twitter. “I feel movies like 500 DAYS OF SUMMER, that totally don’t get women and don’t present them as real humans, may be misogynistic.” This lead to a discussion amongst other critics and various people on the service to attempt to engage this extreme viewpoint. Faraci brings up the Nathan Rabin labelled Manic Pixie Dream Girl and that at the very least film’s that deal with this kind of character are chauvinistic. Devin goes on to point out that “All of 500 DAYS OF SUMMER talk isn’t to say it’s “bad.” Well made, well acted – just deeply suspect.” So, maybe it isn’t misogynistic? Faraci goes on to say “I suspect a lot of guys sticking up for it don’t have much experience w/ women.” Damn, son.

As much as I’d love to dog pile on Faraci some more(and why not, he appears to completely miss the misogyny in G.I. Joe) I would rather just say that based on my one viewing of 500 Days of Summer, I found it to be an entertaining romantic comedy that tended to be more clever and insightful than I expected. Detailing the 500 days of his on and off relationship with the titular Summer, Joseph Gordon Levitt’s Tom gives us his point of view on how things went down between the two of them. Their relationship is at times playful, guarded, and finally sadly ended, and mostly seemed pretty accurate to me. Getting into spoiler territory, Summer’s revelation of marriage to another man, after declaring wholeheartedly a lack of interest in a long term relationship, is something called real life. Real talk. People are flawed. They change their mind, break promises, say the unsay-able. If the character of Summer never feels as fleshed out as Tom, it’s because the film isn’t about her as it is about Summer’s effect on Tom, how their relationship and her choice to end it made him reevaluate his decisions. To get back to Faraci, perhaps all the women (and men) he has dealt with in his life have been very forward and honest in their feelings, and never got mum or evasive. That must be great. Tom is flawed, Summer is flawed, thus is life. And y’know, 500 Days of Summer isn’t even THAT realistic. But it felt more honest than one tends to find in a movie with high production values. Are we all sheep, prey for the hidden wolf of misogyny under 500 Days of Summer‘s sunny exterior? Or is it just a funny romantic comedy that doesn’t completely insult our intelligence and contains characters with actual good taste in music? If I wanted to find some misogyny, I would start with the last couple Katherine Heigl flicks.

Know your enemy

Know your enemy

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One Response to “500 Days of Summer– Misogyny, the silent killer?”

  1. Mary Says:

    Yeah, these misogyny charges don’t hold any water. I know girls like Summer (and guys like Tom). They reversed the traditional gender formulas in this movie, but rather than making it a cheesy gimmick, they fleshed out their characters with writing and imagery that were solid enough to result in a pretty accurate depiction of a relationship (even amid all the fantasy elements in the film). How does a female character who’s uncertain of her feelings (and eventually certain of them and disappointed in their reality) amount to a hatred of all women? What is it that bugs these idiots? So, If a movie has a girl dumping a guy, then the film and its maker must hate women (because women who dump men are inherently despicable subjects [to these stunted and pathetic male egos])? Does their “thought process”, by any chance, run along these lines: “This movie has a girl who dumps a guy! I hate girls who dump guys! This movie must hate girls!”

    Yeeeeeesh. People need to get some fucking dictionaries. And therapy. I suspect the authors of the misogyny claims are the ones who have issues with women.

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