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Guest Post: What It Feels Like for a Girl

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by Andrea Portes
May 11, 2012 11:00 AM
6 Comments
  • |

I really never thought I'd hear a sentence like this in 2012: “I can see making a coming-of-age story about a boy. But when it's a girl... it's just creepy.” And yet, that's what a middle-aged man had to say about our film, HICK, told from the POV of our 13-year-old protagonist, Luli McMullen, played by Chloe Grace Moretz.    This kind of attitude begs the question, “Well, then are we just not supposed to write about girls?” Should we just keep quiet?

I know the film is shocking. Before we screened at the premiere in NYC, Derick Martini, our director, told the audience, “Be warned. It's not Mary Poppins.” It's not shocking simply for the sake of being shocking. It's shocking because we are holding a mirror up to nature.

Luli's actual life is pathetic. Yet on TV, she sees the big, glitzy, glamorous world out there, and she wants to be that, be those things, look like that, sound like that and believes, understandably, that then she will be happy. And, of course, ultimately she learns that those things are an illusion.

Essentially, this is a cautionary tale. We're not putting Luli in these situations for fun. We're putting her in these situations to show what NOT to do. (SPOILER) Everyone is talking about how Blake Lively, as Glenda, gives Luli meth. And Blake's character does give Luli drugs -- until she cares about her. Once she sees that Luli is, actually, just a sweet little egg with a moral conscience... she refuses to give her anymore.   

Dealing with ugly subjects is not promoting them. So, yes, the backlash is a bit baffling, considering the screenplay and the novel were written by a woman, considering the film is the same subject matter as the novel, and considering that a majority of women who saw the film actually felt like it spoke to them in a unique way. After every screening, someone tells me of a strange gray-area situation they got themselves into when they were too young to know what was going on.

But then it hit me: Most of this backlash was coming from guys who don't want to be put into the head of a thirteen-year-old girl. Luli is curious, she's smart, she's kind of manipulative, she's vulnerable and, guess what... she is wondering about sex. Every guy in the universe is starting to treat her differently for some reason and she's wondering why that's happening. Powerless in her situation thus far, she sees she finally has some power here.

I know this is a film that people either hate to love, or love to hate. You may not want to hear things that make you uncomfortable. But if you just allow girls to be more than one thing, not just virgins, not just whores, not just princesses, not just basket-cases, not just hot chicks, if you just allow us to be, say, human... you might just learn something.

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Andrea Portes is the screenwriter of Hick which is based on her novel.   The film is in theatres and on VOD today.
 

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6 Comments

  • Jen | May 18, 2012 8:54 AMReply

    This is in response to " who cares what the critics think".

    The problem is: he critics can make or break a film. If they all come out, after Cannes, Sundance, Toronto. (And by "all". I mean as little as 2 of them. ) everyone will back off your movie and you'll get a terrible distribution deal.

    You're kind of a dead duck at that point.

  • Bes | May 17, 2012 5:26 PMReply

    I hope it is about girls who are aspiring to their own dreams and their own sexuality rather than trying to assume their narrowly prescribed place in the all purpose male sexual fantasy. Male movie makers and consumers and advertising men don't seem to realize that women and girls have their own sexual fantasies that don't consist of how best to fit into their role in male sexual fantasy. I think old men would be threatened by the fact that girls aren't attracted to old men and don't see them as sexy but instead as creepy, as well as the idea that girls don't desire to conform to men's sex fantasies but instead have their own.

  • Jeanne | May 13, 2012 12:50 PMReply

    I haven't seen the film, but I'm very much looking forward to it. Sounds real to me.

    But just three weeks ago, I was attending the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival and was really looking forward to the woman-directed Turn Me On, Dammit, a Norwegian film about, guess what, a girl coming of age, and her sexual desires. In the gold pass lounge, an older white man said that the "coming of age" genre was dead, that everything had been done, that it's just a cliche. I simply said there weren't enough coming of age stories about girls. He walked over to me, pointed his finger in my face and started to yell at me about how wrong I was. When I asked him to come up with one about a girl, by a woman, he couldn't name one.

    So thank you for your courage and your will. Thank you for making your movie.

  • Lara | May 12, 2012 3:48 AMReply

    If this film appeals to pretty much all girls and women, then it would probably appeal to a bunch of decent men too. Who cares what old white guys think anyway?!

    Women are 51% of the population. Given simple math it seems like movies like this, which have appeal to some men also, would be a very good financial move for Hollywood. But then Hollywood is more than just a money making machine isn't it, it's about reinforcing power dynamics and stereotypes too, perhaps even at the expense of profit.

    I want to see this movie!!

  • kellymadison | May 11, 2012 4:02 PMReply

    I agree. I feel like girls love this film and old guys hate it. Go figure. I don't think this is a movie for men, especially old men. But girls feel like they are Luli. And when do girls ever get a 13 year old lead? Never. That's when. GO CHLOE! GO HICK!

  • Kirsten | May 11, 2012 3:34 PMReply

    I love this. I saw this film in New York and my girlfriends and I went crazy over it. We wanted more. Like, we wanted to just stay in that world, with those characters! I don't know why old guys don't get this film. Maybe they feel guilty. Seems kind of like a witch-hunt. Every girl I talked to was totally into it, especially into the acting and DREAMY Eddie Redmayne.

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