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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

One Direction: This Is Us trailer: girls do so look

I have no plans to see this movie. I’m not a fan of the band, and I can’t imagine there’s any point to the film beyond drooling over the lads, who are waaay too young and unformed to be of interest to me. But I figured on posting the trailer today because I am moved to smack down the many, many people who dismiss this movie and the band on the sole basis of their appeal to young girls.

In all the realms of pop culture, only pop music regularly caters to the desires and gaze of girls. I was in Leicester Square the other evening when this film was having its premiere, where all the band members were appearing, and so the square was jammed with thousands and thousands of young girls squealing their hearts out. It was loud. It was great. Everywhere else we turn — movies, comic books, even advertising — we see female eye candy being offered to boys and men, and we see male desire being pandered to. And those screams were unignorable evidence that it’s complete bullshit that women don’t respond to the same. Girls and women do look, and do like to look. And it absolutely astonishes me that Hollywood, which we’re constantly told is a business only in it for the money, continually ignores half the population it could be pandering to and raking in dough from.

This movie will make all the money, and still, no one in the industry will get a clue from that.

US/Canada release date: Aug 30 2013 | UK release date: Aug 29 2013
official site | IMDb
  • Danielm80

    The odd thing is, I can think of several male pop stars who are known for their sex appeal, but I can’t think of many female stars with swooning male fans. There are plenty of women who emphasize their sexuality to boost their music careers (Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Madonna, and on and on), but their fans tend to be mostly female. A lot of times, their main audience is young girls. (We could have a separate discussion about young women who model their sexuality after half-dressed pop stars.) There are a few exceptions–Debbie Harry, Samantha Fox, maybe Shakira or Fergie–but not a whole lot. Am I forgetting someone, or is this the rare field where female desire gets recognized, however badly?

  • Cautia

    ‘but their fans tend to be mostly female’

    In my experience, their fans tend to be largely gay males.

  • singlestick

    Or as bluesman Willie Dixon wrote, “The men don’t know, but the little girls understand.” And of course, one of the first performers to drive women and girls into a frenzy was not a pop musician, but classical pianist Franz Liszt. But yeah, this has been an enduring aspect of pop music since female swooning over crooners like Rudy Vallee and the young Bing Crosby in the 1920s and 30s.

    RE: And those screams were unignorable evidence that it’s complete bullshit that women don’t respond to the same.

    I don’t think that anyone denies that women respond to this stuff, and the regular rolling out of entirely artificial boy bands, from the Monkees in the 60s to One Direction today clearly indicates that the music industry has no problem either exploiting or pandering to female desire.

    But you are absolutely correct that women have a right to whatever pleases them, and also that the movie studios stubbornly and stupidly ignore opportunities to make money by refusing to make more films that appeal to women.


  • But why doesn’t this spill out into other arenas? That’s the question.

  • RogerBW

    I won’t argue with the look, but it seems to me that this trailer at least is trying to push not so much the sexiness but the emotional connection — “I feel I know them”, the lad buying a house for his mum, the other lad going to the bakery where he used to work. Which is a stereotypical way to appeal to women, as opposed to “here is a pretty body for you to drool over”.

  • singlestick

    I honestly don’t know. Under the old movie studio star system, for example, movies were obviously tailored for female stars and pitched to a wider audience that included girls and women. And the pictures made money. But today, some studio executives will dismiss a successful female-driven film as a fluke, and act as though money doesn’t matter unless it’s the money from young (usually white) males.

  • RogerBW

    Some films are still explicitly made for, and marketed to, the generic Hollywood idea of “women”. Austenland, for example. I think that much (though certainly not all) of the establishment’s sexism is unconscious, and simply a side-effect of its complete terror of trying anything that isn’t in a standard format.

  • singlestick

    I see your point, but I think that Austenland’s marketing is more of a gimmick than anything else. Since some men belittle movies marketed to women as “chick flicks,” the makers of Austenland instead go on the offensive and jokingly “exclude” men.

    I tend to think that Hollywood operates more out of stupidity and arrogance than terror, though what scares them more than anything thing else is taking what is perceived as a risk when phony conventional wisdom insists that they can make easy money doing the same crap that they always do (which may be a variation of the point you made).

  • RogerBW

    If you prefer, consider any other chick flick — it’s still aimed at, and marketed at, women, and any male audience is considered a bonus.

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