Opinion: Nicole Holofcener, Chick Flicks and Bro-tion Pictures
This Friday, March 31, we'll join the Bullock Museum for a screening of Enough Said (2013), in partnership with their #femmefilmfridays series. After the screening, we'll participate in a group discussion with attendees about this particular movie and its role in the history of film. We hope you'll join us!
*The following piece has been written by June Chee, a #bossbabesATX staffer, on the subject of filmmaker Nicole Holofcener, the writer/director of this month's #femmefilmfridays screening, Enough Said.*
To put it simply, Enough Said (2013) is the story of a woman exploring her love life, while stuck between following advice or intuition. Starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the main woman-in-conflict, the film tells a story that speaks to jealousy, navigating needs, closing chapters and starting new ones.
Written and directed by Nicole Holofcener, Enough Said has been one of Holofcener's most financially successful films—though her films are no stranger to praise. Holofcener's works have received high reviews and nominations for numerous awards, including the Independent Spirit Award for Friends with Money and the Robert Altman Award for Please Give. However, because many of Holofcener's works feature female leads and a female-centric cast, critics regularly pigeonhole her as a "chick flick" director—going so far as to call Holofcener “the female Woody Allen."
And that’s a problem.
It starts with the definition of chick flick.
Chick flick is a slang term for the film genre dealing mainly with love and romance which is targeted to a female audience. It can be specifically defined as a genre in which a woman is the protagonist.
Holofcener’s films tell a story from the perspective of someone who happens to be a woman, exploring central conflicts that are not exclusive to women, like love, romance, tough choices, life changes, etc. Despite these rather common themes (it's well-known that women are not the only people who ever fall in love or experience drama), this somehow auto-assigns Holofcener to the "female" category.
On this same token, there's not an entire film genre dedicated to life experienced by men. Films in which men experience conflict are not called “Men-ema” or “Bro-tion Pictures.” They are just films.
So, why is “female” or “woman” a qualifier? Why do audiences need to be warned that (gasp!) a woman is going to be the star of this film?
The real question—why do we continue to consider the Male Gaze™ default?
On the surface, these naming schematics may not seem like an issue. However, they’re emblematic of a deeper problem—the dismissal of creative women in film and television. For example, in Holofcener's case: she has studied under the industry's greats (like Martin Scorsese) and has successfully produced incredible films with thought-provoking realism. And making "chick flicks" shouldn't be a dismissive thing; we should celebrate Nicole Holofcener for her accomplishments, her persistence, her experience... and her womanhood.
So, Nicole. We thank you and deeply appreciate you for creating award-worthy films from a woman's perspective. No more, no less. Enough said.
— June Chee