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Women, Sport, and Film 2004 - Billie Jean King Forum

Comments are posted in the order in which they are received, with earlier postings appearing first below on this page. To see the latest postings, click on "Go to last comment" below.

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Welcome to Women, Sport and Film
Name: Amy Campbe
Date: 2004-10-19 16:21:58
Link to this Comment: 11138

Welcome! This course will have both a class component and a web exchnage of ideas, thoughts and comments. "Billie Jean King" is the name of your 'team'. Introduce yourself to your 'teammates' - where you're from, interest in sports etc.

Pat and Mike
Name: Jane Deche
Date: 2004-10-27 18:32:38
Link to this Comment: 11236

My name is Jane and I don't do sports now except for Ice Hockey and working out occasionally. In high school I rowed for the varsity crew team, played J.V. field hockey and was on the varsity ice hockey team. I'm from Vermont, so of course I grew up skiing also.

I think the film broke a little with traditional narrative, but in the end it stayed pretty close. Personally, I think the movie was much more about relationships and marriage than it was about sports. I saw sports as more the setting for the story, instead of the story itself. They used sports to make her special and unique and add a new dimension to her character. Although sports had the more minor role, the fact that it had a role at all is important to note.

Pat and Mike
Name: Catherine
Date: 2004-10-27 20:10:09
Link to this Comment: 11237

Hi. My name is Catherine, and I'm from Scarsdale, NY. I'm not currently participating in any sports, but in high school I did archery and I played volleyball.

I think that the film broke with traditional narrative in some respects, but reinforced it in others. Pat did seem to be strong-willed and independent, and she could handle herself in a fight. But, at the same time, she was very dependent because she couldn't make decisions for herself, and she did end up with a guy (albeit not romantically).

It is important women's sports films because, as a genre, they break with traditional narrative. During this time period especially, women athletes were challenging the gender-roles in society.

Pat and Mike
Name: Elisha Col
Date: 2004-10-28 02:40:05
Link to this Comment: 11241

My name's Elisha. I'm from Wellsville, NY. I don't play any sports, and in high school the closest I got was just being insanely competitive in Phys. Ed. I am, however, a rabid Manchester United fan.

I felt as though the sports in Pat and Mike served as a way to characterize Pat rather than as a central point in the narrative. It was the way in which sports influenced Pat (her desire to be independent, the need to be away from home often, etc.) that mattered to the story more than what she actually did.

Pat and Mike
Name: Christy
Date: 2004-10-28 15:04:28
Link to this Comment: 11251

Hello. I'm Christy, and I'm originally from Tx. The last few years I've lived mostly in North Carolina. The closest I've come to organized sport was in the color guard/marching band in high school. These days I get most of my exercise from walking, playing outside for fun, hiking, swimming, farming... nothing too organized. :)

I think the movie totally stuck with the traditional narrative, because Pat achieved happiness (the resolution) through her relationship with Mike. However, the movie challenged convention by making it matter who Pat really was and who she wanted to be. Resolution came not when Pat got the catch (the stereotypical strong, blond male), but when she found the man who helped her find herself (who happened to be older, cruder, and pot-bellied).

Pat and Mike
Name: Irena Pene
Date: 2004-10-29 22:09:07
Link to this Comment: 11270

Hi! My name is Irena. I'm from Belgrade, Serbia. I'm not really into sports. I used to go hiking, but it's been a while since I last did that. I still tend to do a fair bit of walking, though - I can walk for hours without getting bored. But gyms and sports fields depress me, so I tend to stay away.

I think the movie allowed Pat to go as far as it was possible in the direction of independence within the constraints of the traditional narrative. The movie creates a happy but 'unexpected' relationship between Pat and Mike. What ending could be more standard than that? Still, I felt that in this relationship, Mike was portrayed as the lucky one. Lucky for having won such an amazing women. And what makes Pat so amazing are not the traditional female 'virtues' such as her beauty or the fact that, after a long struggle, she finally submits to Mike. On the contrary, what makes her so irresistible is the fact that, at the end of the movie, she becomes strong and independent, much more so than she was at the beginning. In a traditional Hollywood movie, one would expect the woman to be transformed from a strong headed (i.e. independent) girl into a good (i.e. obedient) wife. Here, the process is reversed, and in this sense, 'Pat and Mike' can be said to set a precedent in the Hollywood history.

Date: 2004-11-03 16:04:24
Link to this Comment: 11341

Forum Week 2 A League Of Their Own

The movie’s characters, women’s baseball players, by virtue of the sport (baseball) and participation in professional athletics, immediately challenges the ‘typical narrative style’ of a mainstream Hollywood movie. But, the story and the role each character plays falls within a range of supporting the narrative and challenging it:

1. Where does Dottie’s character fit?
2. Does the role of the ‘baseball agent’, in his colorful language mock the narrative, providing an easy comparison to the role the players assume?
3. What things did Penny Marshall, the director, do --to challenge the stereotypical role of women in mainstream films?
4. Do you think Dottie purposefully dropped the ball in the last scene so her sister Kit could be the hero, the role she had longed for? How does that last scene play into your thoughts on the narrative?

A League of Their Own
Name: Elisha Col
Date: 2004-11-07 19:27:29
Link to this Comment: 11419

To me, Dottie is a bit of a contradiction. She is very independent, capable, and talented. It's almost like she doesn't want to be, though. Her primary goal is not to grow as an athlete, but to be a good wife and start a family. In this way, she is a very typical woman in cinema. She is willing to give up her independent life to go home with her husband. In the end, however, she returns to finish the season with her team, breaking with the stereotype she appears to want to follow.

movie two
Name: Jane Deche
Date: 2004-11-07 23:38:56
Link to this Comment: 11433

I dont think Dottie dropped the ball purposely in the last scene. She showed a competative nature throughout the film and I didn't see any real reason that should be discounted in the last scene. If she had really wanted Kit to win then she would have left Kit to be the star and not even come back to play. Dottie's character does support the traditional narrative in a certain sense because her first priority was family and her husband and not baseball. She had the aspects of her that made her very conservative and traditional, but then she also had an opposite side that was a huge contrast. The baseball agent, in my opinion was there for comedic value, and to set the idea that what these women were doing wasn't normal. He represents the average male view at the time. This film took a huge step because the entire film progressed through women's actions, and then men took more minor roles.

A League of Their Own
Name: Catherine
Date: 2004-11-08 22:41:41
Link to this Comment: 11457

Dottie seems to be the unspoken "leader" of the team. She basically is the coach; she picked the line-up when the coach showed up the first game drunk, and she gave instructions to the other players (the scene where Marla is at bat). Yet, at the same time, Dottie seems to be more of a reluctant leader in that she constantly says she doesn't really want to be there. It is almost as if she is trying to convince herself of this point (that she doesn't like the freedom of playing baseball with the team) so that she will be able to settle down and start a family.

I also think Dottie purposefully dropped the ball in the last scene. Originally, she was competing with Kit, but I think that she wanted Kit to be the hero, so she dropped the ball at the end. This fits with the narrative in that Dottie "didn't really want to be there," and was not planning on returning the following season, so this was, I think, her way of making amends with her sister before leaving.

A League of their Own
Name: Christy
Date: 2004-11-09 11:33:53
Link to this Comment: 11463

Dottie seems to bridge the old and new. She makes female ballplaying ok by being perfect at it while simultaneously insisting that it doesn't really matter. She makes the baseball dream happen for all the other women (pulling stunts to draw crowds and taking the lead when their manager ignores them), who appear to others and self-classify themselves as "weird girl(s)" or "strange girl(s)."

The cigar man definitely mocks the narrative, and makes it clear that these "girls" are playing baseball only because the men in power have decided it could be amusing. He re-inforces that the women are still largely sex objects, and he succeeds in making this funny to modern audiences rather than questionable.

A League of Their Own cont.
Name: Christy
Date: 2004-11-09 13:17:38
Link to this Comment: 11464

The director is clearly challenging the traditional narrative by allowing female characters to carry the plot. However, the way it is set up is intersting: even though the women are all portrayed as somehow different, the main characters (Kit and Dottie) fit the traditional role of woman as beautiful and the lead character (Dottie) also maintains traditional feminine values of private life over public. This is not a movie about Marla. It is a movie about traditionally successful women taking a stand to allow ugly/weird/less succesful girls to have their day too (as when Kit and Dottie refuse to leave without Marla, Dottie gets Kit in to audition, and Dottie becomes a star to save the league). I don't think Dottie dropped the ball on purpose, but I'm also not sure it matters. Kit may be the star of the final game, but Dottie is the star of the movie.

More on A League of Their Own
Name: Catherine
Date: 2004-11-09 16:59:12
Link to this Comment: 11470

I think Christy brings up an interesting point when she said that Kit is the star of the final game, but Dottie is the star of the movie. I agree that Dottie is the "star" because she is the one who "pulls stunts to draw the crowds." But, at the same time, while the movie focuses specifically on Dottie (because she is the protagonist), I also think that the director was trying to show that all of the players were stars. They all agreed to play baseball, despite being made fun of. (At one point in the movie, a female radio commentator said that allowing them to play sports was masculinizing women.) Also, Dottie was not the only one who did stunts to attract crowds: one stunt was the "catch a fowl ball, get a kiss," another was May catching a fly ball with her hat, etc.

Name: Irena
Date: 2004-11-09 18:22:16
Link to this Comment: 11476

In some ways, Dottie represents the 'typical woman' from the WWII America - a good wife who does men's work while the men are fighting, but is perfectly prepared to go back and raise children once the men return. When the agent comes and offers her to try out for a baseball team, she is reluctant to accept the offer, and decides to go only under her sister's pressure. And once her husband comes back from the war, she seems perfectly happy to go back. What's more, a few decades later, she is reluctant to go to the opening of an exhibit devoted to the women baseball players, going only because her daughter drags her there, much as her sister dragged her to the league many years ago. Yet, Dottie isn't quite what I think an idealized woman would've been at the time. She does leave with her husband; but she also comes back. But then when she does come back and when the coach doesn't seem to want her on the team, she doesn't object, she's willing to leave; she plays when the coach tells her he wants her to play. She isn't nearly as passionate as her sister, for example, is, but that doesn't mean she doesn't care. Her family always seems to be her priority, but still she invests so much in the league. While the coach is drunk, she's the one who organizes the team, who keeps it together. When the league isn't doing well, she does some acrobatics in a (successful) attempt to make women's baseball more attractive. And then, after just one season, she decides to leave for good. Unlike many in the league, she finally decides that the old kind of life is what she wants. So Dottie represents those women who went out there, did the men's work, and then returned to the kitchen. But I don't think she returns to the house all that readily, I think she is torn apart in some ways, for she never would've returned for that final game otherwise (and no, I was not under the impression that she dropped the ball willingly so that her sister could win). She represents the women who, perhaps believing in the traditional values (or myths or stereotypes) planted the seeds of the future feminist movement, the movement of their daughters. Dottie perhaps never really realizes how important what she did was (and her daughter tells her so). But it was important because she, in spite of herself perhaps, put so much of herself into it and did her job so brilliantly.

Week 3 ROCKY
Name: Amy Campbe
Date: 2004-11-10 11:47:40
Link to this Comment: 11486

What were you left with at the end of the movie, what was the message and what images were woven together through-out the movie to create the final message? Why was it important to use names like Rocky, the Italian Stallion, Appolo Creed, Adrianne, and Paulie (Adrian’s brother) how does the character name advance the movie plot?

Name: Jane Deche
Date: 2004-11-11 01:18:30
Link to this Comment: 11503

I think the names made the viewer create a larger connection with conditions and common viewpoints of the time. It made the movie feel a lot more real because the viewer could see this happening. The end also made the movie more realistic because he doesn't beat him, but he does reach his goal of putting up a good fight. I think the movie does an amazing job of making Rocky lovable. I would normally never care or want to see a movie about someone thats not intelligent and doesn't have a great life, but he just has such a great character that it really brings life to the entire plot. Also, we have been noticing the addition of a love story as something that in a way brings down the strength of having a woman in the leading role, but in rocky the love story was very prominent also. Come to think of it, most movies in one way or another do have a love story in them somewhere. It is not a factor that takes away from the main plot, but rather something that adds to it.

Name: Elisha Col
Date: 2004-11-13 21:36:50
Link to this Comment: 11549

I think the images used in this movie were very effective in telling the story. The dialogue often seemed less important than the visual story. The images were symbolic of what was happening to Rocky throughout the film. The scene in which he finally runs up the museum steps is an excellent example. In that scene, it is almost irrelavent that he is training for a fight; what is more important is that he finally achieved a seemingly impossible goal. This is also part of why I think the ending is effective. At the end, it's almost impossible to actually hear the announcer say that it was split and Apollo won. This information is not as important to the story as the visual images. While the final scene may say Rocky lost, it shows that Rocky achieved a personal victory.

Name: Irena
Date: 2004-11-13 23:09:22
Link to this Comment: 11550

As was said in class, Rocky is a strong name. It is strong because it comes from 'rock', making it very appropriate for a boxer. But it is also a name that is somewhat infantile, it sounds more like a nickname than a real name. This goes well with the fact that he seems like a less-than-brilliant boy, the guy who jumps like a child in front of the Museum, and especially with his behavior at the end of the movie when he calls Adrian. At the very end of the movie, I saw him, not as a rough man ready to take care of his gentle girlfriend, but like a boy who wants his mommy.

Now, before watching the movie, we were asked to think whether it would have been possible to put a woman in Rocky's place, and replace Adrian with a boyfriend. In terms of that last scene, well, I suppose it would have been possible, but I think a female character would have had to pay a higher price. Judging by the reaction of the class, Rocky is the winner at the end of the movie, in spite of having lost the match. I think that a female character acting the way Rocky acts at the end of the movie would be seen as having been defeated and needing to be comforted by a guy. What does everyone think about this?

Date: 2004-11-14 15:03:08
Link to this Comment: 11552

I think that the names in this movie were important to further plot and character development. Apollo Creed was built up as this all-American champion who was going to fight the "Italian Stallion" and be a hero. As was said in class, the name Apollo is god-like, and he was so oiled up during the last fight scene that he "glowed" when the light was shining on him. Rocky, on the otherhand, while it is a strong sounding name, also sounds very simple and non-godlike, which I think highlights the fact that he was the underdog and that he wasn't expected to win. The name Paulie to me sound childlike, like a nickname for a young boy. This name fits with his character in that he really couldn't take care of himself; he relied totally on his sister, and when she finally started to show some independence, he completely broke down and said that she never did anything for him or took care of him.

Name: Catherine
Date: 2004-11-14 15:05:12
Link to this Comment: 11553

Sorry, I posted the previous comment. I forgot to put in my name!

Name: Irena
Date: 2004-11-15 16:55:15
Link to this Comment: 11580

In response to Catherine, I thought that Paulie actually sounded like a young girl's, not young boy's nickname. And Adrian, that sounds like a man's name. So maybe the message was that the roles in Pauly's and Adrian's home were reversed: Adrian being the man in the house, and Paulie being the (female) child needing protection.

Name: Catherine
Date: 2004-11-15 23:34:13
Link to this Comment: 11593

I think Irena brings up an interesting point about names in relation to identity when she said that Adrianne had more of a "man's" role in the film because she took care of Paulie (who seemed to be more childlike). However, I think that Adrianne meekness and "mothering" of Paulie makes her very feminine in that women are often portrayed as weak and maternal. I also found it interesting that Adrianne didn't start to stand up for herself until after she slept with Rocky. I don't know if anyone else noticed, but after she slept with Rocky, she started wearing makeup and more feminine clothing, and she also started to be more vocal and independent. In a way, she kind of embraced her role as a woman (and was liberated)? So, my question is, do you think that the author was trying to say that sex liberates and defines a woman?

Name: Elisha
Date: 2004-11-16 11:23:58
Link to this Comment: 11605

I don't think it was sex that defined her femininity as much as it was being wanted. Her relationship with Rocky showed her that she was not as hopeless as her brother wanted her to think. He and others had spent years telling her that she wasn't attractive, she didn't work hard enough, she would never do anything with her life, etc. The fact that Rocky wanted to have a relationship with her and accepted her, I think, was what made her realize that she wasn't as worthless as Paulie said she was. This is what made her able to stand up for herself and start taking more pride in herself. It wasn't the sex itself so much as the fact that someone thought she was worth having sex with, if that makes any sense.

Week 4 Girl Fight
Name: Amy Campbe
Date: 2004-11-18 23:50:00
Link to this Comment: 11664

What did the movie say? What images supported the message? Did it challenge the traditional narrative?

Girl Fight
Name: Elisha
Date: 2004-11-20 03:05:01
Link to this Comment: 11692

I don't think the film's narrative challenged the traditional Hollywood cinema much. The protagonist worked through challenges, established a relationship, grew as an individual, etc. However, I believe the roles of the characters did challenge this. The protagonist was a woman, and was largely unsympathetic as a character. In her relationship with Adrian, neither was inferior as is usually the case. In fact, their relationship could only progress once both accepted their equal standing. So, while the narrative itself seemed typical, the characters broke with the norm.

Girl Fight
Name: Catherine
Date: 2004-11-21 12:23:02
Link to this Comment: 11703

I think that this film was very "typical" in terms of plot; the only way in which it differed from the traditional Hollywood narrative was in the roles of the characters and their relationships to one another. The protagionist was not only female, but dominant in that she seemed to have considerable control over many of the male characters in the film (like her brother). She also assumed control over her father after their fight in the kitchen, and, interestingly, after his "defeat," he didn't appear again in the movie.

In terms of images, her eyes were very expressive throughout the film. In the beginning, she looked rather tough and fierce, and this was expressed through her eyes. At the end of the film, when she embraces Adrian, her eyes are noticably softer. In a way, it seems like her eyes are windows into her feelings. Colors also were very important to the narrative (as we discussed in class). The colors red, white, and blue appear frequently, which I think is a throwback to ROCKY, as is the name "Adrian." The protagonist also wore pink often, which served to highlight the fact that she is female.

Girl Fight
Name: Irena
Date: 2004-11-22 22:44:44
Link to this Comment: 11721

I think this movie is about channeling energy, and also about channeling anger. At the beginning of the movie, Diana is all over the place, getting into more or less unprovoked fights, and not really caring about the possible consequences of her random bursts of frustration. Once she starts boxing, she stops uses her ability to fight in order to achieve something (namely, to win the tournament). Along with this, she realizes that the source of her anger is her father, not the annoying girls from her school. Although one might argue that nearly strangling her father isn't terribly productive, it certainly makes a lot more sense than beating up random (though admittedly annoying) people. Also, once she realizes what the source of her frustration is and once she becomes a promising boxer, she is also capable of having a romantic relationship, something that would've been impossible while she was just a (physically) strong girl who cared about nothing, and anger directed at the whole world.

Girl Fight
Name: Elisha
Date: 2004-11-23 11:28:18
Link to this Comment: 11730

I definitely agree with Irena that this film was a lot about Diana focusing her energies. After the screening, I looked up the film on IMDb and was amazed that someone had posted a comment there that the last thing someone as angry and violent as this character should be doing is learning how to fight better. But really, to me, it made a lot of sense. Boxing gave Diana a way to positively use her strength and anger. It also taught her that there is a proper way to fight and an improper way. She learned that she was not actually angry with her classmates. While I can't say I agree with the way in which she worked out her anger toward her father, she at least came to recognize that he was the root of her feelings. Through boxing, Diana became more focused and, interestingly, less violent toward the innocent (though, as was said before, annoying) people around her.

Girl Fight
Name: Catherine
Date: 2004-11-23 14:59:22
Link to this Comment: 11733

I agree with both Irena and Elisha; boxing definitely became an outlet for all of the anger and frustration Diana was feeling. I think that for her (before she started to train), getting into fist-fights was the only way she could release some of her pent up rage. I also saw her violence in school as a means of indirectly attacking her father in that she seemed to pick fights in order to irritate him (this became clear to me in the scene where he scolded her for fighting in school).

In a way, boxing not only provided her with a way of releasing her anger, it also allowed her to determine the source of her anger, and then confront her father. I think that had she not started to box, she wouldn't have been able to confront her father. While the confrontation was violent (she almost strangles her father - which of course is bad) it was good in that she finally dealt with some of her issues.

Girl Fight
Name: Irena
Date: 2004-11-23 18:41:20
Link to this Comment: 11741

I agree with Elisha that the roles of the characters challenged the traditional Hollywood cinema. In a more traditional movie, Diana would either have been punished for her unacceptable outbursts of anger, or else, she would've been transformed in the sense that her happiness would come solely from her relationship with Adrian. In the second case, boxing would either have been completely abandoned as a silly and unladylike enterprise, or else would've been marginalized as was (more or less) the case with Pat's tennis and golf in 'Pat and Mike.'

WEEK 5 Pumping Iron II
Name: Amy Campbe
Date: 2004-11-24 07:37:15
Link to this Comment: 11750

Pumping Iron II is a complex film with multiple themes, images and conflicts. The most obvious is the question of what is feminine and what is masculine. Looking beyond that - identify other questions, themes and how are they played out in the movie? What was the image/scene which impressed you the most- which stood out as significant. In the end, what are you left questioning and who/what prompted the question?

Bev, Carla and Rachel were the central figures - but what did the role of Laurie symbolize and why was her role important to the movie?

Pumping Iron II
Name: Elisha
Date: 2004-11-29 17:16:19
Link to this Comment: 11786

I think Laurie was the "everyman" (in this case, everywoman) in this film. This is especially true in comparison to Rachel, whom she says she has modelled herself after. Rachel is the superstar of bodybuilding; she is seen as beautiful and glamorous. In contrast, Laurie is a much more down to earth, working class figure. It's even somewhat cliche that she is hoping to win the contest so her spouse can stop stripping (in traditional cinema, of course, the gender roles would be reversed and it would be the man competing for this reason). Although Bev is seen as the underdog because of the prejudices of the sport, Laurie is the more traditional, Rocky-esque underdog.

Pumping Iron II
Name: Irena
Date: 2004-11-29 23:32:21
Link to this Comment: 11800

One of the questions that the movie raises is that of activity vs. passivity. At some point, one of the bodybuilders says that if the idea of an active woman is accepted, then bodybuilders should be considered beautiful (or something like that). On the one hand, it is quite clear that these women are very active (as we see in that gym scene that we focused on in class), but on the other hand, when these women actually go on stage, they seem rather passive. Sure, they do their little routines, but there's nothing very special about those routines, it's really not that different from the Miss Universe performances. A bodybuilder is judged not by how much weight she can lift or how many pushups she can do, but by the perfection of her body (whatever that means). So while being judged, the bodybuilder is passive. Perhaps that is the reason why they seem so ugly (to me anyway). There they are, on stage, in their bikinis, doing their little performances, and looking like *that*. It seems contradictory and therefore repulsive to me.

pumping iron 2
Name: christy
Date: 2004-11-30 01:30:58
Link to this Comment: 11801

Another theme played out in the film is the role of sexuality. Are muscular women sexy? Several scenes in this movie resemble cliche pornographic scenes--the swimming pool, the gym shower. Carla makes a comment to Bev that I don't completely understand about the need to distinguish between sensuality and sexuality.

The film presents a conundrum it does not resolve. If the ideal female body is muscular, how muscular is it? Male body building seems to view increased muscle mass as infinitely correlated with increased beauty (maybe beauty isn't the right word? what are body builders going for exactly?). The judges decide that there is a cap on the amount of female muscle mass that can be viewed positively (but other characters disagree). Is this related to the need for the ideal woman to be sexually attractive to men, and should we read 'sexually attractive' to mean 'physically dominatable'?

Name: Elisha
Date: 2004-11-30 11:33:38
Link to this Comment: 11808

I think the questions Christy brought up are really central to the film. There is a major difference in what is considered beautiful, or even acceptable, for men and women. This film follows one about Schwartzenneger (yes, I know, I didn't even come close to spelling that correctly). He is a prime example of the goal of male bodybuilding, his strength and muscles were considered attractive. Yet, when Bev builds her body in the same way, she is seen in the exact opposite way. The film points out the problem with the ideal body; while it is accepted that men can be large and muscled, even in bodybuilding it is preferable for women to be thin and look good in a bikini (like Rachel). Women like Bev are not accepted because they defy a standard of beauty that exists outside of, but has been forced upon, the sport.

Name: Irena
Date: 2004-11-30 14:41:28
Link to this Comment: 11810

Christy says: "Male body building seems to view increased muscle mass as infinitely correlated with increased beauty (maybe beauty isn't the right word? what are body builders going for exactly?)." I agree that male bodybuilders aren't going for beauty. They do seem to be going for a very muscular body - the more muscular, the better. I don't think it has much to do with attractiveness - the (male) bodybuilding champion whose picture we saw in the movie (to me at least) looks just huge and inflexible, rather grotesque really. But in spite of his grotesqueness, he is allowed to win a bodybuilding championship. So the question is, why isn't Bev allowed to win? Unlike men, women bodybuilders are supposed to be both muscular and beautiful/attractive. Men are supposed to look strong, even at the price of looking grotesque. Women are supposed to look strong, but not too strong because then they end up looking grotesque. This is something that bothered me throughout the movie. My idea of beauty/attractiveness, for both men and women, is very, very far removed from what bodybuilders look like. You want someone to be a bodybuilder and beautiful? Impossible! What are we talking about here?

Pumping Iron II
Name: Catherine
Date: 2004-11-30 16:48:01
Link to this Comment: 11811

Personally, I think that Laurie's character was primarily used as a contrast to Rachel. She said that she wanted to be just like Rachel (she emulates her), but clearly their motivations are different. Laurie wanted to win the contest to help out her husband, whereas Rachel seemed to be vain - at one point, she said that she wanted people to she her and her body and want to be just like her. Laurie, as Elisha said, is also much more of an underdog, whereas everyone seemed to think that Rachel was the one to beat in the competition.

Pumping Iron II
Name: Catherine
Date: 2004-11-30 16:59:09
Link to this Comment: 11813

Irena brought up an interesting point when she said: "Unlike men, women bodybuilders are supposed to be both muscular and beautiful/attractive. Men are supposed to look strong, even at the price of looking grotesque. Women are supposed to look strong, but not too strong because then they end up looking grotesque." I think what the movie was getting at was that women are supposed to fit into this narrow definition of what is beautiful; women are, in a sense, objectified here because the goal is not to build up their muscles as much as possible, but rather to look slender and pleasing to the judges/audience. In fact, as Christy said: "Several scenes in this movie resemble cliche pornographic scenes--the swimming pool, the gym shower," which also suggests that they are meant to appeal to some sort of audience (I mean, why else put those scenes in the film?)

more questions
Name: christy
Date: 2004-11-30 17:30:35
Link to this Comment: 11815

On the one hand, I agree with what everyone has said about the characters, especially Laurie and Rachel. But on the other hand, I think back and wonder, did Rachel really look good in a bikini? I find bodies that are mostly muscle somewhat painful to look at. I can't help but think of it as self-abuse. (How are muscles built up? Is it necessary to have large muscles to be strong?) Which leads me back to the question of What are body builders going for? Why are they doing it? The body is such an important landscape where so many things can be played out. Maybe the answer is different for each character.

Also, what is the significance of the way the judging played out? In the end, it seemed almost arbitrary, with the judges not even able to add up the scores. Did it matter to anybody other than the bodybuilders and the people emotionally invested in them who won? Is this really an arena in which larger cultural issues are played out?

Finally, what was the role of Carla? She seemed to be an underdog as well, but at the same time not at all because she was so confident. She seemed to be guiding our reading of the competition as social commentary. Was it just a fluke that she won?

Week 6 Bend It Like Beckham
Name: Amy Campbe
Date: 2004-12-01 10:56:18
Link to this Comment: 11828

What supported Jess (other than Joe and Jules) and her quest to play soccer - to persevere over the objections of her family? What images did the director use? If you directed the movie what would you have done differently? What message were you left with-- what message would you have liked to be left with?

bend it like beckham
Name: christy
Date: 2004-12-03 13:08:40
Link to this Comment: 11857

I think the main thing driving Jess to play soccer was the fact that the conventional alternatives acceptable to her family were not working for her. Once she had the option to pursue success at something she really cared about, rather than be considered a continual disappointment at things she didn't really care about (cooking and finding a husband), it made sense for her to pursue it even with considerable difficulty.

The images that have stuck with me are the variety and boldness of colors throughout the film. I think these make the film visually fun to watch, as well as underscore the themes of diversity and difference.

Bend It Like Beckham
Name: Catherine
Date: 2004-12-05 13:20:45
Link to this Comment: 11872

I think that Jess' friend (I think his name was Tony) greatly supported her and her quest to play soccer. He understood what it was like for her to be fighting against what she was expected to be. Not only was he really happy for her when she was invited to play on a team, he went to see her play, and he even said he would marry her just so her parents would let her go to America to play soccer. I also think that her "idol," Beckham, was important for Jess (was a source of her strength) in that she could "talk to him" whenever something was bothering her.

I think that the juxtaposition of traditional vs. non traditional (Pinky's wedding vs. Jess' soccer game) was basically the heart of the film. For me, the director was basically telling a story about identity, and struggling to miantain your identity while still embracing that which you love. Another memorable scene where this was apparent was at the party just before the wedding. The fiancé's cell phone started ringing, and everyone pull a cell phone out to see if they were being called (including all of the traditional Indian women who later haunt Jess as she is trying to make the final goal to win the game). So, the idea was that they were traditional Indian women who were carrying cell phones, which, to me anyway, kind of reflects a changing identity.

Girl Fight
Name: Jane Deche
Date: 2004-12-06 18:06:38
Link to this Comment: 11890

I think the movie had a strong message about life and finding your passion and sticking to it. It used boxing as a tool for the main character to grow up and pass her own hurdles. The use of colors and images in this film was taken advantage of and successfully supported the story line. At the begining the main character is green in a sea of red, white and blue. However, by the end she is the red white and blue surrounded by green. Overall I dont think this movie challenged the traditonal narrative because it was a woman fighting to get into a man's sport. On the other hand it did challenge it by focusing the story on her personal growth through these fights instead of just the fights themselves.

Bend it like Beckham
Name: Jane Deche
Date: 2004-12-06 18:17:28
Link to this Comment: 11891

I think that soccer made Jess feel like she had her own identity and was good at something, which is why she kept trying to play. As mentioned in class, the director used a lot of movement. The one scene where this struck me was when Jess was on the porch of the bar where Joe worked and they were talking. There was a close up of Jess, and it made me realize that there weren't that many close ups of her. I really liked how it was not only Jess that had a personal evolving story. Jules and Jess's father also had personal narratives that changed throughout the movie and this brought the film much more depth. I was left with the message that it is hard to break free of longstanding traditions and that it is not a simple fight that you can win or lose but one that never ends and constantly changes. I wished there was more info at the end about what happened to them, but I think they did a good job of leaving it open for a sequel, if there ever is one.

Bend it like Beckham 2
Name: Jane Deche
Date: 2004-12-06 18:27:43
Link to this Comment: 11892

As Christy mentioned, I think the soccer gave her a chance to be involved with something important to her. Yet, I dont think she was a continual dissapointment to her family, I think she could have easily follow their values if she had wanted to. However, her goals and objectives were shaped by the fact that she was in a different generation. At one point her parents are sitting in her room commenting that they tried to give their children everything and they still wanted more. I think the children wanted more just because their parents had worked so hard to give them such freedoms in the first place. Jess and her sister were raised with freedoms that their parents didn't have, however they continued this and took it a step further by being more modern in other ways too that their parents weren't necessarily ready for. I am glad that Jess's parents let her go in the end because it would have been inappropriate for them to make her stay, after they had raised her with more modern values.

Pat and Mike 2
Name: Jane Deche
Date: 2004-12-06 23:26:04
Link to this Comment: 11897

I think that we all overlooked the fact that most of the time she was able to get what she wanted. She did this in a different way then we are used to seeing now, but she still did it. Now we are used to seeing women work hard and compete to accomplish things, but back then they did it with looks and charm. Pat got a lot of what she wanted by playing games and being charming, however you cannot over look the fact that it did work. I think by adhering to this basic social construct she was able to take liberties in other areas such as sports. When it came down to it you knew she was a traditional woman who wasn't threatening the norm, instead she was using the sports as a sort of adventure to give the film context.

A League of Their Own 2
Name: Jane Deche
Date: 2004-12-06 23:33:44
Link to this Comment: 11898

Just to build on some of the comments I saw the other girls write, I think that Dottie and the other girls add something to the game of baseball that the men just dont bring to the game. They make it more fun and entertianing. Another thing that is different is how they interact as a team. I just dont see guys geting as closely knit if they were in the same situation. I think this is really shown when dottie steps up and takes over the coaching and also in how the other girls take care of eachother. They redefine the social interaction that one would expect in baseball, with maybe some new elements that the guys could learn from.

Name: Jane Deche
Date: 2004-12-06 23:47:09
Link to this Comment: 11899

In response to the question of switching the genders of the characters in the last scene, I think you have a very good point. If I saw a woman calling out for some guy after a fight I wouldn't see it as endearing or anything other than weak. However, I think theres a lot more too it because usually a man calling out to a woman could be seen as weak also. In this movie we see it as a good thing that he calls out to her because of Rocky's personality. He is a very child-like figure and approaches things in a very simple manner and tries to figure them out that way too. His physical strength overcomes this otherwise weak attribute and leaves him as still a strong character. As a result of his character having this simple child-like side, it seems okay that he calls out for a loved one since he just finished showing his physical power in the fight. I think that if the gender roles were reversed BUT that the character traits stayed the same then the woman wouldn't be viewed as weak. If a woman had just put up an amazing fight against a huge rival when there were no hopes, and if her character consisted of physical strength combined with child-like simplicity, then her turning to a man at the end wouldn't be seen as weakness, but as an act of love.

oops (Rocky 2)
Name: Jane Deche
Date: 2004-12-06 23:48:20
Link to this Comment: 11900

That last comment was about Rocky, sorry I forgot to title it.

More on Pat and Mike
Name: Catherine
Date: 2004-12-07 04:54:06
Link to this Comment: 11901

I think Jane brought up an interesting point when she said "When it came down to it you knew she was a traditional woman who wasn't threatening the norm, instead she was using the sports as a sort of adventure to give the film context." By not threatening the norm, doesn't it make the movie a traditional narrative? I mean true the protagonist was female, and true she was independent, but, for me, the movie still had the same tradional ending in that she wound up with the guy who ultimately helped her to become a winning athlete. I also agree with Jane in that sports are used to contextualize Pat's struggle; they don't really seem to be the focus of the movie, but rather they help to show Pat's struggle for independence.

Bend It Like Beckham, part 2
Name: Catherine
Date: 2004-12-07 05:15:10
Link to this Comment: 11902

I think Jane brought up an interesting point about how going against one's traditions is difficult. Change doesn't happen overnight; it usually happens because of a long-going struggle. I definitely agree that this is the message of "Bend It Like Beckham," and I think that Jess wasn't a dissappointment to her parents.

I also think that what made this struggle for Jess so difficult was that her family is searching for a way to preserve their identity while adapting to a changing culture (for me anyway). They want to remain the traditional Indian family, and Jess wanting to play soccer is challenging the role that they believe a proper woman should have. Because they are struggling to preserve their traditions, it made it all the more difficult for Jess to play soccer.

bend it like beckham
Date: 2004-12-07 11:32:24
Link to this Comment: 11903

I agree with the comments above linking Jess' identity choice struggle with the modern/traditional conflicts experienced by her whole family. I hadn't really made that connection. I guess in a lot of ways Jess was just the family member pushing the envelope of how far away from their traditional culture a particular Indian family in England could grow and adjust to. Clearly, her pioneering efforts also helped her Dad deal with unresolved issues of culture clash in his past.

Bend It Like Beckham
Name: Elisha
Date: 2004-12-09 14:49:21
Link to this Comment: 11921

I think that, while Jess's culture was a major factor, her father's experiences also played a large role in why her family was so reluctant to let her participate in sports. When her father moved to the UK, he was faced with major discrimination. Just as much as he wanted her to grow up to be a "proper" woman, he also wanted to protect his daughter from the rejection he felt as an Indian.

Pat and Mike 2
Name: Elisha
Date: 2004-12-09 14:53:45
Link to this Comment: 11922

I think it's an interesting paradox that, although Pat ends up in a relationship, she is more independent. I think the major difference is that her earlier relationship was a more one-sided (some might say traditional) one. her fiance told her what to wear and how to act. While Mike did control her, it was for a different reason. Mike told her how to eat and when to go to bed to help her become a better athlete, not just to make himself lok better. Because of this, I think Pat and Mike were more equal. She rebelled against his control, but understood at the same time that he was doing it to help her.

A League of Their Own 2
Name: Elisha
Date: 2004-12-09 14:57:46
Link to this Comment: 11923

I think the major difference between Kit and Dottie is how they view baseball. Kit is truly passionate about the game. For Dottie, however, baseball is something that she finds enjoyable and happens to be good at, but doesn't really love. Being with her husband is more important to her than the game. I feel like she wasn't leaving just because she was a traditional wife, but because that was her individual priority. She came back, however, because she did not want to disappoint her teammates and completely give up.

Bend It Like Beckham 2
Name: Elisha
Date: 2004-12-09 15:03:27
Link to this Comment: 11924

Going back to what Catherine said, I think Tony was important. He showed that Jess was not completely alone in her rebellion and was not the only one questioning tradition. Through things like this, I think that the movie showed how much traditional culture is changing, especially among imigrant communities.

Pat and Mike 2
Name: christy
Date: 2004-12-10 11:08:27
Link to this Comment: 11935

I was thinking about the role of Katherine Hepburn in P & M. I don't know that much about her, or when this movie occurred in her career, but I feel like no other major female actress of her time could have made that movie successful. I wonder to what degree the movie capitalized on her difference while bridging her unique female identity and the traditional female role. I feel like giving Katherine a movie where she was allowed to be different, independent and sporty, yet still need a man and wear a skirt in the end could have been good for her career.

Date: 2004-12-10 11:16:33
Link to this Comment: 11936

I feel like a lot has already been said about this movie. I don't particularly like it, because it combines underdog victory with maintaining the status quo. I mean, Rocky doesn't even get the money in the end. What's he going to do next? (I haven't seen the sequels.) I doubt that Adrienne's pet store salary goes very far.

At the end, the neighborhood is still rundown and everyone is still poor. The only change is that Rocky's all bloody and he's proven to everyone that he has the will to survive against these horrible odds.

So I guess the lesson is: poor people can stay alive through hard work and hope against all odds. This is so neat and exciting that we really shouldn't worry about trying to really change things. (PS the ones who don't make it clearly weren't trying hard enough.)

Not really my cup of tea.

Name: christy
Date: 2004-12-10 11:28:25
Link to this Comment: 11937

The comments above are mine too: sorry, I forgot to put my name.

I also wanted to say that Rocky seems to be much more about violence than about sport. All of the women's sport films we've watched by contrast seem to reduce the physical/painful aspect of sport as much as possible. (The major exception that comes to mind is the bruised sliding leg shot in aLoTO, but overall that movie did not focus on the ballplayer's as physically struggling. Even Girl Fight slowed down the boxing scenes and focused more on artistic visual angels than on portraying physical pain and struggle.) Instead they have focused more on emotional/relationship pains and challenges. Maybe that has to come first in a society where the established roles for women are not conducive to a life of athletic competition. Are there any movies that are just about a woman's physical training and competition?

girl fight
Name: christy
Date: 2004-12-10 11:35:16
Link to this Comment: 11938

I really enjoyed this movie visually, especially the use of color. I didn't really buy the end though. Why were there zero social repurcussions after she won? The struggle for her to box took place mostly outside of the boxing rink, yet after she won inside everything wasn't fine. On the one hand, maybe presenting such a radically improbable ending (that after training for so long, her boyfriend was happy to be beaten by a girl and none of the other boxers gave him a hard time), the film demonstrates the stark contrast between the way things could be and the way they are. On the other hand, maybe it's just a cop out so the movie can have a happy ending and leave the inequality issues that aren't solved either before or after a sports event.

girl fight 2
Name: christy
Date: 2004-12-10 11:41:57
Link to this Comment: 11939

"wasn't fine" above should be "was fine"

Also, I think what everyone said about the movie being about channeling anger is right on. Boxing provided an acceptable outlet for releasing physical tension AND it provided her with the skills to stand up to her father (though I would question whether beating up your father is healthy in the long term).

Structuring physical competition and fighting is an interesting function of sport. It makes sense that it is both more socially acceptable and expected for men to physically fight eachother in an unstructured way, and for them to participate in sports.

beckham 2
Name: christy
Date: 2004-12-10 11:43:43
Link to this Comment: 11940

comment 11903 was mine; i forgot to put my name. sorry!

Bend It Like Beckham
Name: Irena
Date: 2004-12-10 12:07:40
Link to this Comment: 11941

I think Jess kept playing soccer in spite of her family's objections mainly because she was so good at it. Living in England, it was not that unusual for a girl to play a traditionally male sport such as soccer. She was accepted and appreciated by her peers, even before and certainly after she started playing soccer competitively. Because she was so good at it, she continued playing it even when her parents said she had to quit.

Date: 2004-12-10 12:23:00
Link to this Comment: 11942

Rereading what everyone wrote about A League of Their Own, I was struck by Christy's comment about Dottie: "She makes female ballplaying ok by being perfect at it while simultaneously insisting that it doesn't really matter. She makes the baseball dream happen for all the other women (pulling stunts to draw crowds and taking the lead when their manager ignores them), who appear to others and self-classify themselves as "weird girl(s)" or "strange girl(s)."" Perhaps this is the only way that change can happen. 'Weird' and 'strange' people through the unorthodox ideas on the table, and they get passionate about it. But the public at large doesn't accept new ideas until someone apparently ordinary, someone 'just like them' adopts these ideas, even in a slightly watered down form. And it is only then that the 'weird' and 'strange' people can get acceptance for being who they are, for their beliefs and passions.

Name: Irena
Date: 2004-12-10 12:23:42
Link to this Comment: 11943

Oops! That last comment was mine.

Girl Fight
Name: Jane
Date: 2004-12-10 13:47:08
Link to this Comment: 11946

I think the point about the film being both typical and atypical was interesting. That is what makes the movie so good is that they are able to take what could be a very average "just trying to make it" movie and turn it into something that gets a lot more across. Someone said that the main character was unsympathetic, which I'm not sure is true. I think she does a good job of having a tough shell because she is required to by her surroundings. However, when it comes down to it she finds boxing as a way to replace that shell with some other form of protection that she is comfortable with but that also allows her to open up to people.

Pumping Iron 2
Name: Jane
Date: 2004-12-10 14:02:07
Link to this Comment: 11947

I think that the fact that these women are competeing against other women makes the movie different from a lot of the other ones we have seen. Instead of doing a he versus she theme, it is replaced with female conflict. However, there is still a male element in the movie just because of how the women are presented with so much muscle.

Pumping Iron 2 (post 2)
Name: Jane
Date: 2004-12-10 14:05:35
Link to this Comment: 11948

I think that Elisha made a good point about the "ideal body" not being ideal. It really depends on who is judging and the context. I also thought the passive/active duality was interesting that another person brought up.

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