Women, Sport, and Film Course

Cosponsored by Athletics and Physical Education at Bryn Mawr College and the Exercise and Sports Studies Department at Smith College, with support from the Center for Science In Society at Bryn Mawr College and the Serendip website.

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Name:  Amy Campbell
Username:  acampbel@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Week 4 Questions
Date:  2003-02-22 09:35:56
Message Id:  4751
Please answer one of the three questions:

1. Is it advancement for women in sport, that the main character is the first woman on the cover of SURFING magazine? Why or why not?

2. (Same as week #1) What is the cultural ideal of women in sport? And how does it differ from men?

3. How does this film stereotype the main and supporting characters in this film?

Name:  Christen Gore
Username:  cgore@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Blue Crush
Date:  2003-02-24 17:00:28
Message Id:  4787
Hello!!! My name is Christen.
Although I found the idea behind Blue Crush to be a very interesting plot I was a little disappointed by the characters in the movie. I felt that the movie would have been much improved if there had been a little more character development. I think we could have learned a lot more about the characters if the relationship between the girls would have been expanded and explained. Also the idea of the "missing mother", could have been used as a chance for the viewer to become closer to the Anne Marie and her younger sister.
My least favorite scene in the whole movie was the one where Anne Marie leaves the beach party and runs into the water, wearing her evening gown. I hated the fact that she seemed to need Matt's approval and advice to figure out what she would do. I think that the directors of the film were probably trying to show that Anne Marie was vulnerable and human just like the rest of us, but I felt that the whole scene was just kind of silly and that her vulnerabilities could have been shown in another way...any other way...and it would not have seemed as silly.
On a completely different note...I thought that the scenes where they recreated the feeling of drowning under water were great. The cinematographers really captured how scary it can be when you are underwater in the pounding surf and you can't tell which way is up.
Name:  Stefanie Keenan
Username:  skeenan@smith.edu
Subject:  Blue Crush
Date:  2003-02-27 10:10:13
Message Id:  4862
The struggle of Ann Marie to overcome her fear of surfing the pipe is an integral part of the storyline in the movie Blue Crush. Not only does it depict the danger of surfing, but how difficult it is for an athlete to overcome not only the physical aspects, but the psychological aspects of sustaining an injury during competition. Ann Marie is forced to re-evaluate herself as a female and as an athlete, and must decide whether surfing is still an important part of her life. This is what makes us, as the audience, feel so proud of Ann Marie when she finally surfs the pipe in competition, gaining perfect scores across the board, yet not quite making it into the next heat.
Ann Marie didn't win the pipe competition, yet she was asked to be part of the Billabong team and even became the first female surfer to be featured on the cover of SURFER magazine. On the surface, this seems like a huge leap forward for female athletes and the advancement of women in sports. Yet, I am skeptical to believe that if we were to open the magazine and read the article about women surfing the pipe, it would strictly talk about the skill of these female surfers. Instead, as with most articles featuring female athletes, the focus would remain on Ann Marie, a poor Hawaiian native with no mother, who overcame a possible career ending injury to score one perfect wave. There might be a brief synopsis of the rest of the women surfers, and maybe, just maybe, a picture of who actually won the competition. Yet, I am hesitant to think that Ann Marie making the cover of SURFER magazine will cause even the smallest ripple of interest in female surfing.
A more recognizable example of this is the WNBA website. Not one picture on this site is dedicated to depicting the female athlete as a basketball player. Instead the pictures show these athletes in gowns, skirts, heels, etc, to give them a more feminine appeal, and show that they are more than athletes. We as consumers, do not see women as skilled athletes, yet instead as people who have lives outside of sport, and oh, and by the way, are pretty good at sports too.
Name:  Emily Hanson
Username:  ehanson@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Blue Crush
Date:  2003-02-27 15:03:21
Message Id:  4868
1. While the overarching concept in Blue Crush, women surfers, is an interesting one, I feel the movie did a poor job doing justice to the sport, not because of any stereotyping of women in sports, but because of a significant lack of character development. The movie created many mini-plot lines through which they could have used to explore the idea of women surfing. From Ann-Marie's missing mother, her relationship with her sister and friends, to her relationship with the quarterback, each could have provided an avenue through which the audience could have connected with the main character. However, because the movie lacked any sense of focus, it became involved in too many subplots and the audience never felt any empathy with Ann-Marie. As a result, the movie lost an opportunity to discuss the idea of women in sports.
Name:  Marla
Username:  mdmcconn@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Blue Crush
Date:  2003-02-27 18:34:19
Message Id:  4874
Response to Question One

I think the fact that the main character of the movie was portrayed on the front page of "Surfing" magazine suggests the advancement of women in sports. However, like other people in the class, it seems that this triumphant message was somewhat overshadowed by the love-story part of the plot.

Name:  rachel k
Username:  rkahn@brynmawr.edu
Date:  2003-02-27 18:39:28
Message Id:  4875
I know this is focusing in on a very small point in the movie, but I think it is interesting that the picture of Ann Marie on the cover of SURFING shows her at the end of her ride, not in any danger, and not showing her involved in any of the physically difficult parts of surfboarding. In a way, this is similar to the pictures we often see of women athletes in their kitchens or in dresses. The picture of Ann Marie was more about her posing than about her as an athlete playing her sport.
Name:  Laurel Jackson
Username:  ljackson@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  #3
Date:  2003-02-27 18:43:16
Message Id:  4876
I agree with the people who have posted before me. One of the main problems with Blue Crush is lack of character development. Instead of delving in and teasing out the intricacies of each character, or any character, the movie makers chose to make the characters identifiable to the audience by presenting sterotypical characters. You have the somewhat talented, oh-so-stubborn and "hard" friend Eden. You have the goofy, playful friend Lena, the little sister who's constantly trying to prove her independence, Penny. Not to mention all those wonderful, dirty, self-absorbed, arrogent football players. Finally, there's Anne Marie. The movie makers try to imply that she's been through a lot, and has come out all right. They try to play her off as a wounded, strong young woman who's lost some of her self-confidence due to a surfing accident and her mother leaving. The fact of the matter is that without developing the story of her mother, the audience fails to embrace that as an actual trial that she's had to suffer. It's not believable. In fact, most of the story is not believable. It's as though the movie makers replaced actual characters with sterotypes. In doing so, they succeeded in making a movie filled with people who rarely present anything deeper than shallow. A movie that had promise to make strides in the presentation of women in sports is reduced to a bad chick flick.
Name:  Katie Horton
Username:  Anonymous
Date:  2003-02-28 08:57:18
Message Id:  4881
Question I: It is advancement for women in sport that the main character is the first woman on the cover of Surfing Magazine. However, as with anything there are positive and negative aspects. It was great that she was actually on a surf board which somewhat curves the usual portrayal of female athletes away from their sport; nonetheless it was not the real action shot that would surely be included had it been a man. Secondly, why was Anne Marie the only surfer there wearing a skimpy bathing suit? It seems to me that the other women had shorts on etc. As for her relationship with Matt, I think I have a slightly different take than most. I saw her going to the football banquet the night before her competition as self handicapping behavior—if she went and didn't surf well the next day she could blame him. Then when they were in the water I liked Matt's response to her question and saw it as him respecting her competitive and independent nature. Lastly, when she was in the first aid tent and he launched into his story about his first NFL game I really think that if she could have moved she would have kicked him. Her reaction looked to me like she was indeed ignoring him until he got off of himself and got to the point of the story: don't do something or pass something up that you'll regret later. So, though I have to agree that the romance aspect of this movie left much to be desired, (or begged to be ditched), I don't think that all of their interactions were all that negative. Ultimately, while the press may not be that great, good press is press nonetheless.
Name:  Mary W. Jayne
Username:  mjayne@smith.edu
Subject:  Question 1/Week 4
Date:  2003-02-28 12:17:35
Message Id:  4882
Yep -- I agree with most everyone who's addressed this question, but I have one thing to add, that I didn't see mentioned above. While the "Surfing" magazine cover depiction of Ann Marie will probably be followed, as other participants have speculated, by a somewhat shallow, superficial, exploitative story -- I still feel that it's an important accomplishment for Ann Marie, for one important reason.

Early on in the movie, Ann Marie specifically says to someone, I can't remember who, that she hopes a female will be on the magazine's cover one day. Thus, she has framed this as a goal she envisions for the sport itself and for women surfers -- and, by implication, for her, Ann Marie. Perhaps it's a little too cute for the movie to end with a shot of the cover, but sport is all about setting goals and striving for them. In this way, despite all the stereotypes in the movie and despite all the digressions the movie makes into the characters' relationships with each other -- the film has, in fact, addressed a central value of athletic training and competition -- reaching for and achieving a goal.

Since Ann Marie herself has achieved a goal she hoped to see women surfers reach as a group, I think you have to say, "Yes -- her courageous performance in competition, that ultimately got her onto the magazine cover does, in fact, represent advancement for women in sport."

Mary W. Jayne

Name:  Stefanie Keenan
Username:  skeenan@smith.edu
Subject:  Goal setting
Date:  2003-03-02 09:52:07
Message Id:  4890
I agree with Mary in respect to the importance of Ann Marie setting a goal and eventually achieving it, i.e. getting on the cover of SURFER magazine and finally getting a sponsor. Yet, I'm tentative to say that this is advancement for women in sport; instead I would generalize this further as advancement for surfers, or maybe just all athletes. If I was a young surfer, or even just a young athlete, watching Ann Marie set out on a goal to be the first woman to ever be depicted on the cover of SURFER magazine is extremely inspiring. Inspiring enough to make me work just as hard to achieve a goal I have set out for myself, i.e. playing basketball for the UCONN women's team. Yes, I am a woman, and I am an athlete, but the inspiration I gained from Blue Crush is not because Ann Marie is a woman who accomplished a goal for all womankind, but because she wanted it as an athlete. Indirectly, her being on the cover does help bring more media coverage to women surfers, whether it is good press or bad. Therefore, her goal does lead to some sort of advancement for women in sport, yet I think the main message was much broader. I think the movie is trying to reach out to all audiences, all types of athletes, not just surfers, and not just women.
Name:  Lisa
Username:  LLINdber@smith.edu
Date:  2003-03-05 20:48:48
Message Id:  4956
I don't think that Ann Marie being placed on the cover of Surfer Magazine was an advancement for women in sport at all. Her picture is just like every picture we see of female athetes in the mainstream: a smiling woman, poised, and NOT competing. However, I do think that article that accompanied the photo was a mark of an advancement, but not an advancement in itself. What or who should have been on the cover? Well, I think that a picture of a woman riding the wave would have been better, perhaps a picture of the woman who won the competition. In terms of sponsorship, Ann Marie has a lot going for her other than her talent. She is an athlete, but she also fits the cultural ideal of women. She is beautiful, and she has a boyfriend, a masculine, rich boyfriend. In the sports world, one good performance does not get you a sponsor, it takes a lot more hard work and dedication that what the movie showed of Ann Marie. I was happy to see Ann Marie achieve her goals, however, if she didn't, it would have amde quite a boring movie.
Name:  marta sobur
Username:  msobur@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Anne Marie on the Cover of the Magazine
Date:  2003-03-20 07:08:11
Message Id:  5111
I wish I could say "never judge the magazine by its cover" but it is difficult to imagine that the picture of Anne Marie in a skimpy bathing suit could in fact lead to a more sport-focused, rather than sexual image of a female athleete. I base this view upon the numerous newspapers I have seen (but I am unfortunately not able to name them), and the constantly repeating theme of men being presented in a way, which shows their strenght, effort, and physical accomplishment, while the focus in representations of sportswomen is placed on showing that they are beautiful (according to modern fashion) women, before they are excellent at their respective disciplines. Anne Marie, as a movie character, seems to enjoy being a beautiful woman, to the point that her friends have to remind her about the competition, and her goals in sports. This reinforces the idea that her picture on the cover, would be her personal advancement, and would not imply much about the condition of the discipline in general. To maintain the objectivity however, I must say that I find it difficult to understand in what way her accomplishment in the tournament was significant. It seems like she had difficulties approaching the wave, and had it not been for the more experienced surfer, who gave her advice, she was not probably going to start the surf. It is thus more evident for me that the fact she was able to do a great performance on that one splendid wave, is more of a personal achievement, which proved not that she was a great public athletic figure, but that she was a brave individual. Coming back to the subject of the magazine, it is probably already a great achievement of female surfers to appear in the sports magazines, however there is even greater work, which needs to be done before the press starts emphasizing the fact that they are hard working, strong and determined athleets. The only circumstances, in which I would agree Anne Marie's picture is be an advancement, would be if she had been portrayed in action, surfing and being a strong and athletic sportswoman, and not in a way, which creates an impression of her being solely "an attractive female who at the same time happens to surf". This way, I view her picture as an advancement on a large scale in the way the female surfers would be perceived by the public, and contribute to the general positive image of women in sports.
Name:  Anna W.
Username:  Anonymous
Subject:  Why is Title IX considered a social justice? How does it impact women today?
Date:  2003-03-21 10:28:02
Message Id:  5121
Title IX is a social justice for it served to end injustice based on sex discrimination. Social justice can be difined as the recognition of injustices and the actions that are taken to rectify the problem. Title IX addressed the dicrimination that Women during that time faced.
Women athletes did stand to benefit the most from this law, but the lives of all women changed, both those athletes and non-athletes. Many opportunities are now available to women that were not available before. Title IX gave women access to areas that were at one point dominated by men. These areas not only included sports but also extended into the academic areas as well.
Name:  Anna W.
Username:  Anonymous
Subject:  How does the cultural ideal of sport relate to the cultural ideal of women?
Date:  2003-03-21 10:41:53
Message Id:  5122
The cultural ideal of sport does not relate to the cultural ideal of women. The image of the former is one that glorifies men, and their physical strength and agility. This image doe not include women. Our society's cultural ideal of women portrays women as subordinate to men regarding sports. Women athletes are not given enough compensation for their talents in relations to men. This is due the to the fact that the cultural ideal of sport excludes women
Name:  Anna W.
Username:  Anonymous
Subject:  How does the media-print/movie-web portrayal women and sport?
Date:  2003-03-21 14:45:45
Message Id:  5125
Very often, most of the forms of public exposure that women athletes get in the media-print/movie-web are those that depict their feminineness in conjunction to the sport that they play. Rarely are women seen and depicted simply as just athletes, free from their sexuality and stereotypes that their gender suggests. Women athletes are captured in print, media, etc., half naked or in the kitchen holding some sort of sport equipment that tells what sport they play. I have yet to see an image of a woman athlete where only she and her talent are given attention. The media portrays women and sport as two separate entities
Name:  Anna W.
Username:  Anonymous
Subject:  How does the film stereotype the main and supporting characters in the film?
Date:  2003-03-21 15:06:41
Message Id:  5126
I feel that we should not take this movie seriously, nor should we think so critically about all of the short-comings of the film. I doubt that the film's viewers will see this film as one of those films that will break stereotype and set standards for films about women and sport.