Sundance Press Obsession with the "It" Girl

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by Melissa Silverstein
January 26, 2012 11:09 AM
3 Comments
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I never realized how annoying the whole "it" girl thing was until I saw three straight "it" girls articles in my RSS feed yesterday about three different women.  I know that people have to come up with a lot of stories to write and this is an easy way to talk about women, but I just want to say the whole term and discussion is sexist because you never, ever, see and article on an "it" boy.  Can you imagine a press article written about an "it" boy?  No, you can't and that's why it's sexist.  It is a convenient way of writing about a cute, usually younger, usually white woman who has surprised people with her performance in a film (or films) or who has been discovered, or rediscovered.

The term is also a lot of pressure to be and act a certain way and those pressures only fall on women.  It's like you have this one little window in the snow of Utah and you need to make the most of it or it could all disappear.  Talk about pressure.  It can help you break out, but it can also be a burden, as 2007 "it" girl Jess Weixler told the LA Times

Somebody christens you as the 'It' girl, but for some reason, I didn't strike while the iron was hot," said Weixler, 30, who since her Sundance premiere has stuck mostly to theater and appeared in only a few tiny indie films. "I was very wide-eyed then and maybe became a bit shy from all the pressure. I was, like, 'This was great, thank you so much,' and then I retreated back into my New York theater world."

I remember that Carey Mulligan was the "it" girl when she arrived a couple of years ago in 2009 for An Education.  Then Jennifer Lawrence was the "it" girl in 2010 with Winter's Bone.  Last year there was Elizabeth Olsen who came with multiple movies including (Martha, Marcy, May Marlene), Brit Marling (Another Earth and Sound of My Voice) and Felicity Jones (Like Crazy). 

This year there seems to be three potential it girls and this seems to be some kind of bizarre press competition.   Gina Rodriguez of Filly Brown, Lizzy Caplan of Save the Date and Bachelorette (who by the way has been doing great work for years) and Ari Graynor of For a Good Time Call and Celeste & Jesse Forever

I think it's great that we are getting stories about women doing good work in films.  And I guess I should be happy that there is a non-white potential "it" girl.  I just wish there was a better term for "it."

Sundance: Gina Rodriguez of 'Filly Brown' is the newest 'It' girl (LA Times)

Ari Graynor: One hot girl in the Sundance chill (LA Times)

Sundance Breakout Lizzy Caplan on Save the Date and Her Raunchy Comedy Bachelorette (NY Mag)

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3 Comments

  • The Questioner | January 30, 2012 1:50 PMReply

    Lazy buzz terms like "It Girl" remind me that the film industry is still very, very afraid of women. The industry can pretend to acknowledge women as it marginalizes them yet again.

  • Allison | January 27, 2012 12:20 PMReply

    Yeah, but won't most of these it girls stop getting jobs in their late thirties/early forties and replaced by new it girls?

  • Ali | January 26, 2012 3:30 PMReply

    Very well written and thought provoking. Thank you for bringing this up. I too am annoyed at the "it" girl posts. It's not only sexist but it's just down right annoying.

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