This paper reflects the research and thoughts of a student at the time the paper was written for a course at Bryn Mawr College. Like other materials on Serendip, it is not intended to be "authoritative" but rather to help others further develop their own explorations. Web links were active as of the time the paper was posted but are not updated.

Contribute Thoughts | Search Serendip for Other Papers | Serendip Home Page

Women, Sport, and Film - Fall 2005
Student Papers
On Serendip

What are the 'essential' characteristics of a CF? of a SF? How are these played out in the films we watched?

Eleanor Carey

In this class, we spent a lot of time discussing what characteristics are present in a chick flick, what characteristics are necessary in a women's sports film, and what characteristics are shared by chick flicks and women's sports films. We agreed that a chick flick will focus on a woman as a main character and that the tension will relate to her relationships. There usually is a romantic relationship or a desire for a romantic relationship that plays a major role in the development of the plot of the chick flick. In a women's sports film, the issue of competition in a sport becomes important. However, we have seen that in most of the sports films we have watched, relationships have played a major role alongside the athletics. Relationships are essential to both kinds of movies. Sports are essential to women's sports films. Sports films have a complication in the relationships on which they focus- competition in the sport, or perhaps the conflict between the sport and the woman athlete's personal life. We see these themes in all of the movies we have watched this semester. The relationships in "A League of their Own", "Bend it Like Beckham", and "Love and Basketball" are complicated by sports, but the focus remains on the women and their relationships. Where, in "Pretty Woman", the relationship between Julia Roberts' character and Richard Gere's character was complicated by the fact that Julia Roberts' character was a prostitute, in "Bend it Like Beckham", the relationship between Jess and her family, like the relationship between Jules and her family, was complicated by the fact that she was a football player. But the relationship between Jess and Jules was strained by the fact that they both liked the same guy, their coach.. The themes remain very much the same in chick flicks and women's sports films.

In "Pretty Woman", we see the fairy tale love story, which Vivien has imagined in the past, actually happen to her. Vivien has had bad luck in love and has not found what we generally consider success in a career. We meet one friend, a woman who cares about her a lot but who is not responsible, she uses their rent money to buy drugs. When Vivien is offered quite a lot of money to stay at a luxury hotel with Richard Gere's character and to purchase expensive clothes and eat in fancy restaurants keeping him company, it looks like a major windfall, to say the least.

Richard Gere's character clearly finds Vivien attractive from fairly early on. Perhaps she is a breath of fresh air in comparison with the ambitious, high power people he usually interacts with. He and Vivien have a fairly easy time of falling in love, considering their differences in station and experience, as a result of the fact that it's a movie. However, Vivien has a problem when Richard Gere's character's lawyer suggests that he might utilize her services in the future, letting her feel that Richard Gere sees her as nothing more than a prostitute. Richard Gere's character is able to offer to set her up in a house and provide what she needs as far as food and clothing, and he does, but she is not looking to have this sort of situation, as she sees it as a more comfortable version of what she is already doing. By going the fairy tale route, Richard Gere's character wins Vivien over, and we imagine that they ride off into the sunset together. We're not sure that this is the success for which Vivien has been waiting, either, but she has found a romantic relationship with somebody who is not a bum, and to whom she is attracted and whose company she enjoys. She does not need to work as a prostitute anymore, and we can imagine that she finds something enjoyable and useful to occupy her time in the future.

In "Bend it Like Beckham", we see two young women who are very successful as soccer players and in school. Jess's parents do not want her to play soccer because it's not appropriate for her at this stage in her life, when she should be thinking about college and domestic activities. Jules' mother has difficulty with the soccer because she also sees it as unladylike, and worries that her daughter is a lesbian. Their relationships with their family members are strained because of this difficulty with the sport that they love, but in the end they successfully are recruited to a soccer team in the United States and go away to college in the U.S., where they will play soccer and have an opportunity for greater athletic success. The audience finds much to laugh at in the presentation of the tension in the two girls' families that stem from their soccer playing.

The relationship between Jules and Jess, however, is another important part of the movie, and where the girls work well together on the soccer field and contribute to each other's success in this area, there is tension when they both become attracted to their coach and Jess becomes involved with him despite knowing that Jules likes him as well. This is something that could easily happen in a chick flick that doesn't relate to sports. They make up and Jules accepts the relationship between Jess and the coach, however, because they need to work together in the championship game, and their shared love of the game and success in the game brings them together. In a chick flick we might have seen them not talking in the end of the movie, or reconciling only after the coach dumped Jess, and Jules found a boy who was better suited to her.

The themes explored in chick flicks and women's sports films are very much the same. Women's sports films are able to address these themes in different ways because they use sports as a major theme. In the end, however, both kinds of film have to appeal to women, and do similar things to achieve this end.

| Course Home | Serendip Home |

Send us your comments at Serendip

© by Serendip 1994-2007 - Last Modified: Wednesday, 02-May-2018 10:51:23 CDT