Due to a massive amount of sickness I got hit with this month that smashed apart any plans I had, there won’t be a new episode of Brain Food or Voices of Dissent this month. It’s just the way things go, sometimes.
However, before we left this month off, I did want to do a short review on a musical comedy released last year that completely flew over my head (a side effect of living so damned far up North despite Internet access) and that’s Pitch Perfect. Now, from the header you can pretty much gather that I was not a fan of this movie, and here are the reasons why.
1. White People Singing And Dancing
The plot revolves around the Bellas, an all-womens group of singers in a form of music I’ve never heard before called Acopoco. It’s where you all sing and add in the backbeats and tone and rhythm without any instruments. This type of movie also belongs to a genre of entertainment that RVCbard, in a conversation with me regarding this movie, called “White People Can Sing & Dance Too.”
And my answer, after seeing the movie, is that no, they can’t. WE can’t! I literally sat with my face in my hands during ANY of the singing segments because it was so damned embarrassing. I was playing Kingdom Rush on my iPod while watching this movie, just trying to get through it!
Watching those segments of the movie was like watching people fail in their auditioning for Canadian/American Idol, it was gut-wrenchingly bad. It’s like they’re trying to prove they’ve got rhythm SO BAD…
Lets look at the poster for this, shall we?
So, out of that group of white women, we have one black woman, and one Asian woman… and that’s about it.
The plus-sized white woman is called Fat Amy, played by Rebel Wilson, and it’s a title she gives herself and isn’t ashamed of, and the movie does do good in depicting her as an actual character whose sole interest isn’t food, although there are a fair amount of food jokes in it.
The black woman is Cynthia Rose, played by Ester Dean.
She’s also a lesbian, and one might think “Hey, a woman of colour who is also gay and not the Hollywood Ideal Shape with some awesome hair! Great!”
Well, I did too, and then after her introduction, the rest of the movie happened. See, her being a lesbian is played up as a joke half the time and the behaviour she exhibits is problematic, to say the least. She acts in ways that would be considered lewd and rude from men, but the movie plays it off for laughs. She feels up the straight women, she scopes them out up close, at one point nearly shoving her face into the cleavage of the member of the group who is promiscuous (and which the film labels as a slut and also plays that up for laughs).
There’s also a scene near the end before the final championship match, contest, whatever Acupulcola Sugar Free music singing does, where the Bellas are sharing their darkest secrets, and she admits that she has a gambling problem. Fat Amy makes some stupid snide remarks about her ‘coming out’ and even though Ester Dean plays Cynthia Rose as someone who is confident in their sexuality and without guilt about it, the movie itself is again making fun of her, and the whole thing came off as homophobic and racist.
I should also mention that the leading characters of Chloe, played by Brittany Snow)
And Chloe (played by Anna Kendrick)
Were supposed to be gay and get together, but that was written out.
Oh, and Chloe was a redhead…
Then we have Lily, played by Hana Mae Lee.
Her ENTIRE character is that she’s a Shy Girl who speaks so softly almost no one can hear her… and she’s a pyromaniac, too. This ties in too much with the Shy Asian Girl stereotype, and Lily grows none whatsoever throughout the entire movie. Her character is a one note joke at the start of the movie, and it’s a one note joke at the end of the movie.
3. Nice Guys Always Win.
Once more, the nice guy wins and gets the girl, despite being a creeping, passive-aggressive shithead and despite the two having Negative Chemistry together.
I am talking about Jesse, as played by Skylar Astin.
This guy all but stalks Beca from the start of the film, is generally annoying, has almost no charisma, and wins her over by constantly harassing her at work in the university radio station they both work at, coming over to her room, and by showing her movies and acting shocked and mortified that she hasn’t seen the ending of the ‘greats’ like The Breakfast Club and other stuff.
This is some nice guy heteronormative bullshit here, and I wanted Beca to slap him, drive him out of her room, and get with Chloe. At least those two had some chemistry together.
And speaking of Beca, we come to my final complaint about this movie:
4. White Middle Class Privilege
Beca is attending a pretty damned good university FOR FREE since her father, a tenured professor there, is paying her way… her entire way.
But she doesn’t want that as she wants to go to Los Angeles and become a DJ and remix music.
Now, I like Beca, I do, but good lord if her whining over having to attend university for free didn’t grate on my nerves! A free ride through university in terms of costs?! Hell, what I wouldn’t give for that now, considering that I myself am going back to school for further job training.
It’s not to say that I didn’t have help from my parents, because I did, and I’m eternally grateful for everything they’ve done for me in terms of the support, be it food or money or lending me a vehicle after mine was smahed in an accident, and love, but Beca acts like a spoiled brat at the beginning. Post-secondary education is expensive up here in Canada and, from what I’ve heard, really expensive down in the US, so I doubt that she came off as sympathetic to those who are struggling to pay the costs of attending university, either currently or afterwards. Hell, I’m still paying off student loans!
The last few years have shown especially the gap between the upper and middle class growing, and even more people becoming lower class and the working poor, as one report called it, and that has always had a huge effect on people of colour, yet Beca is complaining about having this free ride! The movie ends with her staying in university after the first year, but hell, who’s to say she couldn’t pursue her love of music? She’s literally soaking in her white, upper middle class privilege and it really made me shake my head and sigh.
In short, fuck this movie. What little good it has is outweighed by the bad, and you can find better movies elsewhere to watch that have a richer, more diverse cast of characters who are deeper and more developed.
8 thoughts on “Pitch Perfect – Fuck This Movie”
I also notice that you did not say that she got a free ride based on, y’know, merit. Her dad apparently just had connections and enough money.
And yeah, she didn’t earn a scholarship or anything like that, her dad was paying for everything, and that is expensive as hell!
As a performance style, a cappella has a lot more diversity in musical style and in performers than you’d expect from this movie. And if you want a better example, there was a performance competition show called The Sing-Off a while back. It was pretty enjoyable. And in season 1, a Puerto Rican group of guys called Nota won, and they were amazing.
Doo wop is a form of a cappella, too, and there are plenty of black gospel a cappella ensembles.
I’m not saying don’t fuck this movie. Just don’t fuck all a cappella along with it.
“This type of movie also belongs to a genre of entertainment that RVCbard, in a conversation with me regarding this movie, called “White People Can Sing & Dance Too.”
I laughed out loud at this. The entire Step Up series has turned into this, and in 3D, no less. Weren’t there black people in the first one? Wasn’t that the whole point of it?
Yeah when I cringed every time I saw the the preview, I knew it was going to be horrid.
I TOTALLY AGREE
Thank you so much for this, I actually did enjoy the movie overall but there were several things that made me feel kind of icky, and you at least touched on them all here. I scoured the internet looking for someone else who felt this way because I tried to bring it up to my friends and they just got super defensive. So thank you and I agree with these points (though I did somewhat enjoy the movie overall).
Also yes Beca and Chloe getting together would have improved the movie greatly.
I’m glad you liked the review, even if I didn’t do it in my normal style. Just… I felt that the negative outshined the positive. Even though they put in a kind of off-kilter, parody feel to this movie, it wasn’t enough to excuse the messages they gave about the characters here.
And Beca and Chloe getting together was part of the script in its first draft, but it was cut out because, well, can’t have three dimensional lesbians or anything… >_>
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