BODY SHOTS Excerpts

The Shot: Mean Girls

The Take:

Regina easily could be crowned the hottest girl in the school, but when she says she wants to lose 3 pounds and her best friend talks about her flabby arms, it really disturbed me. If these already beautiful girls need fixing, I figure I must be in terrible shape by comparison. And when Regina gets heavier after she’s tricked into eating those extra calorie bars, the message I got was : “Don’t ever gain weight because you will lose all your friends and popularity!” Even today when I watch the movie I still feel like I should be ashamed of my body, which weighs much more than Regina ever did.
(Trish, high school senior)

The Analysis:

“The visual power of these teen pics can be so compelling that in the end they perpetuate rather than challenge the very superficiality they profess to satirize…”

 

The Shot: Shallow Hal

The Take:

I was sitting in the movie theatre with my husband when everyone in the audience cracked up during that scene in “Shallow Hal” when Rosemary breaks the chair in the restaurant. All I could think of was that they were basically laughing at me, because I could barely squeeze into my own seat in the row. I spent the whole rest of the movie panicking I wouldn’t be able to get out of it.
(Marion, age 43, who struggles with overweight).

The Analysis:

“Most problematically, the visual structures and comic devices of Shallow Hal are at cross purposes with its didactic intent. The manic energy that drives the comedy arises from sight-gag images coding the fat woman’s body as giant freak. The central joke of the film is sourced in the problematics of her size; she continually breaks the chairs she sits on, collapses a sports car and creates a tsunami when she dives into a swimming pool...”

 

The Shot: Kill Bill

The Take:

During spring break my girlfriends and I sat around watching movies and I couldn’t get over how erotic “Kill Bill” seemed. Somehow it made me feel really self conscious despite being really drawn in and fascinated by the actresses’ incredible bodies. One of my friends was talking about how Uma Thurman spent six hours a day training for the Beatrix Kiddo role with coaches and all kinds of kung-fu masters. So after seeing the movie I really was inspired to work out more and got so gung-ho I actually ended up pulling my hamstring from overdoing the running and calisthenics. I often have this feeling of inferiority when watching sexy movie stars but it’s even worse with martial arts movies like this one. I want to be lithe and long like Uma Thurman and Darryl Hanna were but my body seems to be built more like an NFL lineman and less like an acrobatic fashion model. (Carly, college student)

The Analysis:

“And while these action dolls and gung-toting hotties may be the product of male producers appealing to male cultural fantasies, the message to female viewers is still more potent: the way to embody such fantasies and thus be desired by men is to look like the action heroines the films construct.”