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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

wtf: Katherine Heigl’s ‘Killers’ moron is a “sweetie pie”?

Oh, how depressing! In his essay on Ashton Kutcher as the new Clark Gable (the subject of today’s Question of the Day), Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir refers to Katherine Heigl’s character in Killers as a “sweetie pie.”

Sweetie pie? Really? Sweetie pie? This is a thirtysomething woman who allows herself to be berated by her parents in public — whose parents appear to believe it’s okay to berate their adult child in public — and she must be okay with being treated like a wayward child, because she agrees to go on vacation with them. Then she lies to them about being sick and stuck in her hotel room, rather than simply saying, “Look, I met this cute guy and I’m having dinner with him, okay?” Three years after she marries this man, she continues to check in with her parents multiple times per day, and in fact appears to consider that her first committment is to them instead of to her husband. Her parents arrange just about every aspect of her life. She appears to have no interests of her own, no friends to speak of, not even much volition of her own.

That’s not a “sweetie pie.” That’s a child, a doormat, a robot.

Is that what makes a woman “sweet”? Christ.

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  • Funwithheadlines

    Kutcher is to Gable as Pauly Shore is to Bogart.

  • halavana

    Where I come from, calling an adult woman “sweetie pie” is a demeaning insult and depending on context can be interpreted as “childish idiot.” If this is how Mr. O’Hehir meant it in reference to Heigl’s character, I wouldn’t disagree.

  • MBI

    Not only is it condescending, it’s forcefully WRONG. Heigl has played an epic buzzkill in every movie she’s been in since she got famous. If that’s what you call a sweetie pie, we have differing definitions of “sweet,” Mr. O’Hehir. You can make the case that she’s more than justified in being such a harrying nag to her oft-irresponsible and obnoxious male leads, but, seriously, sweetie pie? How? In what way?

  • I once made the mistake of dating a woman with such controlling parents. As much as I liked her–and I liked her a lot–it was not an experience I’m eager to repeat again.

  • Accounting Ninja

    Though to be fair, this is how real-life martyr-y types and doormats operate. They cultivate this outward image of “sweet” so as to deflect all criticism from them. I have one of those self-sacrificing-to-the-point-of-unhappiness friends who is also controlled by her parents (we are in our 30s)and everyone thinks she’s just “too nice”. And she IS nice, but she’s also terrified of life, dependent and weak-minded.

    But, of course, this could have nothing to do with this movie character. I doubt Killers contains a thoughful, subversive look at this type of person. ;)

  • MaryAnn

    *Killers* doesn’t think a woman like this is a problem. It, like O’Hehir, thinks she’s a sweetie pie.

  • Accounting Ninja

    Hmm, that leads into an interesting thought: this type of personality is much more common in women. I know ONE guy like this (lives with his parents and is guilted into helping them constantly, but he is also pretty young, early 20s) but I’ve known DOZENS of women like this in my life, even going back to junior high/high school.

    Totally anecdotal and unscientific, of course, but you’re right: it is much more socially acceptable for a woman to be like this, and it even gets praised.

  • halavana

    Maybe no one is interested or noticed, but for what it’s worth when I wrote “Heigl’s character,” I meant in the movie, not in real life. Her character in the movie could reasonably be labeled a childish idiot.

  • About the bias meter: I wonder if you need a new catagory for “victim of Hollywood.”

  • MaryAnn

    About the bias meter: I wonder if you need a new catagory for “victim of Hollywood.”

    I’m not sure that’s right for the bias meter, but perhaps for a regular feature. Although it’s a tough thing to determine, because actors are complicit in creating their images — that is to say, how much of a “victim” can she be? Sure, there’s a certain element of “if you want to work, you have to take what’s offered.” But Heigl starred on a popular TV show for years. She *should* be in a financial position, if she wasn’t a total idiot about money — and maybe she was; lots of Hollywood types tend to act like the fountain of money will never stop flowing — that she could be choosier, could take smarter roles in smaller films. But she doesn’t, so we have to assume that to a certain degree, she’s okay with these roles that make women look idiotic. She’s done a lot of them, at this point.

    this type of personality is much more common in women.

    I’m not so sure about that. I’ve encountered plenty of men who think that as long as they act like a doormat, women will like them — this is the core of the stereotypical Nice Guy (as opposed to an actually adult man who is genuinely agreeable in character and demeanor).

    I think we can agree, however, that doormattery is unpleasant in either gender.

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