Ace uses the new movie Bad Teacher, starring an increasingly shopworn-looking Cameron Diaz in an otherwise throwaway raunchy Hollywood comedy, as the launch pad for an interesting discussion of modern Hollywood semiotics, and film critics on both sides of the aisle:
There’s an idea out there — some conservatives have this too, and are scorned for it, but liberals secretly harbor this idea and aren’t even honest about stating it forthrightly — that the point of all art is elevation, and any art which is non-elevating (or outright degrading) is ipso facto bad art.
I don’t buy into the leftist nonsense that takes this rule and simply reverses it into its dumb kneejerk contrarian form — that good art always must be degrading or subversive of ideals usually considered elevating.
It’s more, ahem, nuanced than that. Bad behavior can be interesting, certainly; it’s fairly easy to make bad behavior interesting, as the headlines of any tabloid demonstrate.
But it’s often a more difficult artistic trick to make good behavior interesting, and artists should challenge themselves to do so.
But getting back to the actual point — are liberal film critics going to insist that every major female role must be a paragon of empowered and enlightened feminism? How the critics snicker when the leads in Atlas Shrugged seem too good to be true; but offer them up the opposite sort of character — as anti-feminist a heroine as you can imagine — and they howl how they despise her.
Is there no room whatsoever for a “minority” character (and feminists consider women to be minorities) who fails to be a role model for others?
It’s interesting that when the shoe is on the other foot, liberal critics — who will happily, eagerly mock conservatives for the belief that all art should be didactic — covertly insist on a purely didactic message about their cherished shibboleths.
This is dumb. The villain — or in comedy, the rogue, the villain-as-comedic-antihero — is often the best role in any movie (or any play, or any book), and dunderheaded liberals are basically insisting that such terrific roles may only be played by white men.
I think I can speak for all white male actors on this point: Thank you! Thank you for insisting we get the best roles in your misguided effort to insure that “minority” actors (including women) only play the Best Friend, the Romantic Object, or the Magic Negro!
Thank you for accusing any film with a black villain of being racist! We sure don’t want actors like Yaphet Kotto and Geoffrey Holder making a big impression in a film! We don’t want black actors to have their careers launched!
If you define “feminist” not as feminists typically define it, but rather as “increasing the liberty of women to do things they were previously precluded from by either operation of law or social stigma,” then this film is, believe it or not, “feminist” for letting a girl be Bad.
Read the whole thing — from Ace’s description, seeing the movie afterward is very much optional.
Related: Kyle Smith on what sounds like a similar archetypal character being concurrently played by Jennifer Aniston: “Non-Controversy Over the Other F Word.”