How to Be Single and Deadpool: Film and Gender Equality

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Two years ago, I landed in a lovely sisterhood of a flat where we would sit round the kitchen table and quiz each other via the ‘The Dating Persona’ Okcupid test.  It promised to analyze sex drive, predictability, intelligence and inherent goodness. It was an absurd hangover breakfast diversion, but I enjoyed the zany matches to other types and dead-eyed pastel illustrations.

 

I happened to be single that summer, and watching How To Be Single this week impressed uncanny similarities between my old self and the lead lady Alice. The most obvious aspect I saw of myself was that I had to go the long haul to realize I wasn’t doing things on my own: to enjoy my own company. I would cycle the extra mile for a baked good cause I deserved to be in love with myself. I would text many guys because I was lonely – but I thought I was owning it – and was probably quite shitty to my friends in figuring all this out. Also, the phrase ‘getting caught in dick sand’ sounds like something me and my friends would actually say.

 

How To Be Single was by no means a perfect film – the plot lost the way a little in the middle – but it was endlessly refreshing as it showed a more realistic attitude to young women today. It surfs the polar standards set by Hollywood of people that are either happily in love or desolate and single. The film presents a grey area, a middle slog that sometimes takes months, perhaps years to traverse. This is the tumultuous ocean of self-love. Also, it was great to have Rebel Wilson provide some comic effect. Likewise, the men in the film were not all after the poon.  Mr. Bartender was weird, but I think him ending the film alone with his dis-serviced mini fridge proved a point. Mr. Professional Building-Developer was shitty to Alice, but then apologized and vacated the screen focusing on the core relationship in his life; that with his daughter. ‘Hey there’s that adorable man who warmed the butter in his hands from Obvious Child!’ at first hand seemed too eagerly pursuing his chosen gal, but it was revealed he just wanted a nice family all along and dressed-up as a stay at home dad at an 8th grade costume party. Basically, a male with his eyes set on the prize – all day watching Chef’s Table re-runs on Netflix and making pureed carrot. He was a… LATTE PAPA. It is fantastic that movies finally recognize this breed of human.

 

When films give two minutes to consider equal cinematic representation of the sexes, it’s like watching a toddler still stumbling towards their first steps, as you get to see it grow and reflect on the triumphs and near misses. Superhero film Deadpool was like an overly performative ten-year-old throwing shit into your eyes. Watching Deadpool, I was reminded instantly of one of the darker questions of the Okcupid quiz: ‘Suppose your boyfriend/girlfriend is horribly burned in a car accident that was totally your fault. They are badly mutilated and *pissed off*. Is it time to say goodbye?’. We were all horrified at this question and, not being a sociopath, answered no. Ryan Reynold’s character simply says: ‘Are you deformed from trying to access an up-and-coming cancer treatment? Gross. Never even walk on the same street as your partner again, as they will not accept you’. He also draws the line at having cancer period. Just walk right out on your fiancée in the middle of the night, cause it’s time to say goodbye.

 

Another thing Deadpool does is pay for a sex-worker to go on a date with him, in some sort of hostage situation, where he withholds sex until the clock is running (cause he sweetly wanted to take her to an arcade first). But when the magic does happen, she is utterly eroticized by his peen and, unclearly, she is now his girlfriend.

 

Their whole relationship is a montage of different ways they’ve had sex. This might have been refreshing in another film, but since her character was a sex-worker two minutes ago earlier, they should have clarified if she was still on a contract with him.

 

After twenty-four hours, I can now laugh at it, but in all honestly Deadpool made the world feel a bit smaller with its smack-down of sexism. A female character, who exhibited to a traditional lad-mentality audience an unapproachable appearance (piercings, shaved hair and comfortable clothing) was met with the aside ‘Good luck to the guy who tries to force her into after prom sex’. Ah Deadpool, how wink wink nudge nudge you slipped a rape joke in! I honestly was sick in my mouth multiple times during this film. I also got a neck injury from peeking over at the majority male audience in Dbox seats – cause real men sit in the hardcore area – to see how they were receiving it. They found the whole thing utterly hilarious of course.

 

So one film made the world a little bigger with its exploration of newer shades of movie character, the other made me afraid to strike up a conversation with any man that isn’t my boyfriend. In case you’re wondering, one film received 83% and the other 49%. I’ll let you puzzle that one out for yourself. However, as both films present themselves as cinematic junk food I was pleasantly surprised to get a little more from How to Be Single.

 

 

By Heather O’Donnell

 

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