Wednesday, April 17, 2013

"Admission": Only Women Read Virginia Woolf

                That one class when we were discussing Alison Bechdel's test for women in movies really struck me. Before that class, I had never heard about the Bechdel test and I never really thought about the way women were portrayed in movies or their roles, unless, of course, these things were blatantly obvious. To remind you all about what the Bechdel test is and its criteria: The Bechdel test is a simple way to gauge the active presence of female characters in films and just how well rounded and complete those roles are. (1) It has to have at least two women in it, who (2) talk to each other, about (3) something besides a man. This test seems like a piece of cake to pass, right? Wrong! Watching those videos from "Feminist Frequency" in class where the Bechdel test was used on movies that had received Oscar nominations really slapped me in the face and made me open up my eyes to the reality of things. Most movies on the big screen are not centered around strong female characters and when women do appear in these big screen movies, they are oftentimes doing stereotypical things, such as, talking about men or shopping (shocking, right?).
                The other day I was watching the movie "Admission" starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd. In this movie Tina Fey plays Portia Nathan, an admissions officer at Princeton. When it comes to applying the Bechdel test to this movie, this movie does pass, but it does not pass in my book because it does do something stereotypical of women. As I was watching the movie, I noticed that Virginia Woolf came up quite a few times, (yay, right?). No. I mean, yay in the sense that Virginia Woolf is being brought up to the public eye again, but not in the way that I would like her to be reintroduced to the world or the way Virginia Woolf herself would have wanted to be reintroduced to the world. In the movie there is a "Virginia Woolf scholar" character played by Sonya Walger, who is caught in a love triangle involving Portia (Tina Fey) and Portia's boyfriend. The phrase "Virginia Woolf scholar" is supposed to be a punch line in the movie, but it gives off a sort of ambivalent vibe about feminism. I mean, it is obvious that Virginia Woolf is a favorite among feminist scholars, but I feel that the way "Admission" portrays a woman being a Virginia Woolf scholar and reinforces that Woolf is of interest to women only is boring. Yes, Virginia Woolf wanted to empower women, but I feel that her writing does not only pertain to women. Her writing dealt with topics that both men and women could talk about and relate to. Exceptional writing is exceptional writing, the sex of the author should not play a role in who the writing is meant for. The movie would have been much better had it had a male character play a Virginia Woolf scholar and, of course, this action would have gotten more male readers interested in Woolf's writing because the media has that impact. In the end, it's upsetting that in this day and age, this movie and I'm sure, other movies out there, are still grouping female authors with only female readers.

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