Friday, November 18, 2005

Bitch, Bitch, Bitch

I haven't even seen the fourth Harry Potter movie yet--R-boogie and I are headed there late tonight--but already I'm pissed off at reviewers. The following sentence appears in David Edelstein's review in Slate, one of my favorite periodicals:

"Emma Watson's Hermione . . . continues to demonstrate that humorless know-it-all valedictorian grinds can be madly attractive provided you have the right casting director."

Are we *still* a society shocked by the notion that intelligent women can be attractive? How on earth is this worth mentioning in a review? I mean, never mind the fact that Hermione *isn't* humorless, that a substantive portion of her character development has focused on her increased humor and ease both in the books and in the third movie (no character development happened in either of the first two movies, period). That nonwithstanding, I feel like I've read sentences of that genre far too often in recent reviews, sentences claiming that an attractive actor is alone responsible for the intelligent, pugnacious female character's appeal (the New York Times review of Keira Knightley in Pride and Prejudice leaps to mind, but I know there have been others). And while stereotypes about the attractiveness of intelligent males still exist, unquestionably (see Beauty and the Geek), it's not a surprise worth mentioning every time an intelligent male in a film is attractive. Not so here, not so here at all.

As the old film adage goes, and as films from Strictly Ballroom to Hell Comes to Frogtown (no, for real, it exists) have proven, guys don't make passes at girls who wear glasses. One of the most admirable things about the Harry Potter serial, while it has innumerable gender issues (Connor, ?!, R-boogie, mxzzy and I, among others, are or have been part of a Harry Potter discussion group), is the fact that Hermione's intelligence has not been compromised or altered as she matures and develops romantic appeal. Rather, her intelligence has started extending to other realms--she remains bookish, but is able to use her book smarts in various areas of her life--and it is this, a maturity she's found within herself based on complex friendships and the obstacles she's faced because of them, that gives her romantic and sexual (yeah, they're fourteen in this movie and sixteen in the books, but those are the ages of the kids I teach and I'll say no more) appeal. Nor is it just Ron, her close friend for so many years, who can see it: Viktor Krum, a stranger and a professional athlete, spots it and acts on it first. Hermione's maturity comes to everything in her world. I've never liked Emma Watson's take on the character particularly, though working with a decent director did wonders (I LOATHE Chris Columbus, a man whose every thought is coated in treacle). She never seemed to like her character, has never seemed to grasp the journey. But Edelstein's take on Hermione is even more offensive. The only thing that could possibly make this character appealing, he claims, is casting a "madly attractive" fourteen-year-old girl. In response to which, having yet to see the film, I can only offer a FUCK OFF.


At 7:33 PM, Blogger Connor said...

Hear hear! Granted, I didn't read the whole Edelstein review, and I rather like Watson's take on the character, but it's ridiculous that such comments should be cropping up anywhere at all today, not to mention a major city newspaper. Poo on them.

At 10:39 AM, Blogger meridity said...

Wait, what? Are you somehow implying that there is a common perception that attractiveness and intelligence have an inverse relationship?


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