I wanted to walk through Netflix’s viral protest of the term “chick flick” point by point, but that would have required them to display a higher level of coherence. You can read the full Twitter thread here.
Like many positions adopted by contemporary virtue signalers, it seems the company’s social media team started from a cool-sounding conclusion and groped clumsily for ways to get there, guided to their desired destination by the beguiling North Star of wokeness. (Debate over “chick flick,” by the way, is old. The label has rankled scores of easily rankled feminists for decades.)
That said, here’s their central contention: “Overall,” @NetflixFilms proclaimed at the end of a gripping six-tweet thread, “there’s nothing inherently gendered about liking a light-hearted film with a strong female lead and emotional arc. So next time you call something a ‘chick flick,’ you better be referring to Chicken Run.”
“Chicken Run” is an apt reference here. The year of its release probably marked the last time anyone actually used the term “chick flick.” That was 2000.
Quick PSA: Can we stop calling films “chick flicks” unless the films are literally about small baby chickens? Here’s why this phrase should absolutely be retired (thread):
— NetflixFilm (@NetflixFilm) April 15, 2019
The argument “there’s nothing inherently gendered about liking a light-hearted film with a strong female lead and emotional arc” is just bizarre, and predicated on the ascendant notion there’s something wrong with “gendering” products. Men and women like different things, and our entertainment options should absolutely cater to those divergent interests. But if you don’t buy into that reality, as is increasingly the case on the left, the world you seek is one in which a timeless masterpiece like “Crossroads” would either be advertised unsuccessfully to men or scrapped entirely (a world I hope I’m never alive to see).
Netflix’s anonymous Twitter pundit also complained that “chick flick” is a trivializing categorization, which I suspect is really at the heart of their disgruntlement. I think there’s a legitimate point to be made about slapping the “chick flick” label onto a movie like “Pretty Woman.”
There are absolutely female-led romantic comedies with broad appeal and high quality, to which the “chick flick” label would be misapplied—and with the effect of cheapening the film, as the thread complained. Even something like “Legally Blonde” probably doesn’t deserve the label, if we agree it’s “trivializing.” (I will for the sake of this argument, because I think there are varying perceptions on what it means, and Netflix doesn’t even know whether that point is essential to its own argument anyway.)
But then there are movies like “Crossroads.” Or “The Longest Ride.” Or “A Christmas Prince.” Clearly there’s an entire genre of easy-viewing films geared pretty much exclusively towards women that probably deserve to be trivialized, and perhaps deliberately so in many cases.
They’re the mindless movies that help us unwind after a long week. We like them. We crave them. That doesn’t make women less sophisticated consumers—indeed, there’s a parallel genre for men (“Gone in 60 Seconds,” most of these), and I don’t think most people would object to the creation of a playfully pejorative term for it either. Gloria Steinem has proposed “prick flick,” but that may be a little graphic.
It’s okay that we have a gendered and trivializing label for these movies because they’re reasonably gendered and reasonably trivial. There may be something to the question of why we only have such a label for women’s films, although my guess would be it has more to do with the convenience of the rhyme than the patriarchy.
As is often the case with feminist complaints like these, disagreement with the cultural construct (think Barbie dolls) seems actually to be more of a discomfort with women’s preferences. Try as they might to free women from the spell of patriarchal social conditioning, something tells me the chick flick will endure.