Somehow, despite a love for teen movies and Shakespearean retellings, neither of us had seen the 2006 Amanda Bynes vehicle, She’s the Man, based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.
At first glance, this seemed super promising. There’s something really likable and goofy about Amanda Bynes. And the plot – about a girl who’s soccer team is cut and goes through her transformation in order to prove a point about girls’ athletics seemed like it had a lot of potential.
Unfortunately, then we watched it. And like a lot of Amanda Bynes’ post-All That career, it was disappointing. Instead of a thoughtful commentary on gender politics and the complexities related to taking on an identity outside of your own, we get a lot of jokes about boobs and stereotypical homophobic humor. Here are a few places where we think the film went wrong:
#1: The weird man dialect
You might think this is a small point. But the weird voice Amanda Bynes uses when pretending to be a boy sounds like a strange dialect unlike that I’ve ever heard from a man. Plus, it serves to underscore the overarching belief of the film that Being A Man = Treating Women Like Objects
#2: Homophobia played for laughs
For reals, aren’t we over this yet? Obviously if two dudes physically interact outside of the realm of punching each other it does not necessarily mean they are going to have sex. And if they do, that’s NOT WEIRD. Get over it.
#3: Apparently this movie lives in a world without Title 9
Don’t get me wrong, we’re well aware that there are tons of challenges faced by girls playing sports, even today. But I don’t believe that a school this fancy would completely eliminate their girls soccer team without anyone raising an outcry. Nor do I believe that an equally fancy school would also not have a girls soccer team. So while I totally sympathize with Viola, I doubt she’s really looking at all of her options.
#4: While we’re at it, if Viola is supposed to be so great at soccer, why does she need Duke’s help?
This was just dumb. The whole point is that she’s a great athlete, but they made her dependent on him to be good enough to play in the game? Really?
#5: Girls are either totally hot or they are Eunice
Somebody could probably write their whole dissertation on the characterization of Eunice in this film. Played exclusively for laughs for being weird and gross, this character clearly sets up the dichotomy that girls who aren’t magazine-cover pretty are disgusting creeps.
#6: Nobody with eyeballs would actually believe that these two actors are so physically similar that they would convincingly be mistaken for one another.
I think these photos speak for themselves. I refuse to believe that the other characters in this film are that clueless.
However. To the movie’s credit, it did include at least one legitimately funny joke about a girl disguising herself as a boy.
I wanted to like this one also….and it fell so short. Like how it’s supposed to be about equality and whatnot, but almost every other woman besides Amanda Bynes, even her fellow female team soccer players, are played as ditzy, shallow and sexed up for the male gaze; and as you say, there’s some homophobia and a lot of reinforcing of both male and female stereotypes. The one scene I did like, was her coach at the end bellowing to the opposing team’s coach that his team does not discriminate based on gender and she’ll continue playing.
I agree, that was a nice moment. However, it felt a bit self congratulatory, didn’t it, given the rest of the film? I like what you say about all the other girls too – like there’s hyper feminine or horribly unfeminine, and nothing can be in between except for the amazing Amanda Bynes who’s super hot yet still one of the guys. Magic!
I agree that it was out of sync with the actions of the rest of the film, despite liking it. And yes, Amanda Bynes is magic. 😉
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