Women’s Fiction and Chick Flicks Need to Disappear

Men have themes, women have gender.

Taru Anniina Liikanen

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“I didn’t like it. It‘s too much of a women’s movie.”

This comment came from a friend of mine after watching Late Night, the 2019 Mindy Kaling-Emma Thompson movie.

“What do you mean ‘it’s a women’s movie’? Because there are two women as the protagonists?”

“No, it’s just the type of movie it is.”

I’ve heard this argument so many times, with “chick flicks” and “women’s fiction” in the bookstore. Put two women in a movie, and it’s a women’s movie. Put two men in a movie, and it’s just a movie. Maybe even an Important Movie, one of those that are about society. It’s pure sexism.

“So, is Saving Private Ryan a men’s movie?” I asked my friend.

“No, it’s a war movie.”

“What about Hobbs and Shaw?”

“That’s an action movie.”

“How about Wonder Boys?”

“It’s a movie about writing.”

There’s always a qualifier that makes the movie different when it deals with men. Men have themes, women have gender.

Men can speak to universal themes, women can only speak to women.

Funny for a Female

Late Night is not the type of movie you’d think about when you think about chick flicks. It’s not centered around a cute princess story, and it doesn’t star an impossibly good-looking couple who you already know from the trailer will end up together.

It deals with two women’s work struggles. One, Mindy Kaling’s character, is trying to make her way into comedy while struggling with the lack of diversity in the writing room of a late-night talk show. The other, Emma Thompson’s character, is a seasoned pro who’s trying to stay relevant in the digital age.

Sure, there’s a bit of relationship drama, as well. But it’s not the guiding theme of the movie.

It’s also a lighthearted movie, like “chick flicks” often are. But if it was two male comedians talking about their work issues in a funny tone, you wouldn’t call it a men’s movie. Take the Adam Sandler-Seth Rogen movie Funny People

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Taru Anniina Liikanen

Stand-up comedian and recovering political ghostwriter. Finnish by birth, porteña at heart. Bad jokes frequent.