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Women, Sport, and Film - 2004
Student Papers
On Serendip

Stacking Up

Amelia Leonards

Assume you are a screenwriter in the year 2010. You have been commissioned to write a movie script about women's sports and current society. What is the theme? Who are the protagonists? What are the issues and how does the movie end?

Due to the nature of this course, most of the films that have been shown concerned the discrimination women face when they attempt to compete against men in athletic areas that have long been considered unfit for their participation. Divisions of sport that could be regarded as more gender neutral were not mentioned nearly as often as those which have a long tradition of masculine head butting and back slapping, and athletics which are deemed feminine were not brought up at all. If the indignation felt by the protagonists of films like Girlfight is any indication of the present attitude of women towards sex-based discrimination in sport, it is entirely possible that we will have come a long way in the fight for equality by the year 2010. The following scenario is purely hypothetical and the future of the sport involved was manipulated for the purposes of this paper only.

The activity of cup stacking has gained much popularity as a sport in the US today and is beginning to become known in areas outside of the country, such as Great Britain. It involves the stacking and dismantling of several predetermined cup arrangements in a specific order, with rules determining the exact manner in which a competitor must achieve this. The most important of these regulations is the ban on using both hands on one cup, as the active participation of both hands improves dexterity and assists right brain development. This is the side of the brain which promotes awareness, focus and rhythm, which are very important skills for the cup stacker and average person alike. Competition can take place on both an individual and team level, the clock and one's personal record being the antagonist in the former scenario. Boys and girls compete without regard to gender in this sport, though the record holder for speed stacking the cycle formation is female, clocking in at 7.43 seconds. It has been observed that women generally possess more dexterity than men, which would give them a natural advantage in sports of this nature. This observation has led to a hypothesis concerning the domination of women in the future of cup stacking, which is the focus of Stacking Up, brought to you by Pickled Newt Pictures.

Over the past ten years women have become the dominant force in the cup stacking movement while male participation has been slowly disappearing. Now, in 2010, male involvement is below 1% in the US and not much higher elsewhere in the world. Once it became obvious that females had the advantage, (at least initially), many boys found it difficult to continue competing under "unfair conditions" and simply gave up. Over time cup stacking became regarded as a girl's sport, and most boys view it in a negative light, which is strengthened by the resentment many of them feel for being left out. There is one boy, however (Andrew Gais), who dreams of becoming the US cup stacking champion. He's been practicing since he was little; he works 3-6-3 combinations on the countertop before clearing the dishes at home, at least fourteen glass beakers from the chemistry lab at school have given their delicate (and ultimately breakable) lives to his obsession. . .wherever he goes, whatever he's doing, he compulsively stacks anything he can get his hands on. This includes toy poodles. Unfortunately, they don't appreciate the beauty and simplicity of a well executed 'cycle' formation, especially when they are made an intimate part of it. The boy luckily manages to escape with all of his fingers intact. But Andrew finds it difficult to achieve his dreams; his father, an ex football player, does not support his son's passion for a sport he considers 'ridiculous', while his mother believes his time could be spent in more productive ways than upsetting the neighbor's poodles. His friends (the few people who can see past his odd obsession to the caring and friendly boy underneath) advise him to move on and study something that will bring him large amounts of money in relatively little time. People who cannot see through the unusual exterior to the sweet interior believe he is completely insane and label him a fruit for taking so much interest in a decidedly feminine sport. Fortunately, he meets Alice Liptschtz at a cup stacking convention in MI, where she beats the current world record by 20 seconds. The two fall into conversation, and before the day is over, she has agreed to coach our protagonist to enter the local trials.

Since he has technically been practicing for 11 years, she is able to train him up for a competition in very little time. Andrew wins his first trial, and goes on to compete in the regional championship. Medal after medal is awarded to him as the judges perceive and wonder at the immense talent the boy possesses. Meanwhile, all of Alice's friends vocally abuse her for agreeing to coach a boy, and a successful one at that. She slowly begins to regret her decision, and finally attempts to break off their relationship, which has blossomed into friendship and even love after he is entered against her in the final championship speed stacking competition for the US. Andrew wants to remain friends however, and invites her over to his home for dinner with his family the night before the competition. While they are walking around the perimeter of the horse enclosure (he lives on a farm), one of the horses, maddened by a slight injury it had suffered earlier in the day which had gone unnoticed, charges Alice, who is too stunned to move. Fearing she will be injured, Andrew throws himself in front of her while attempting to push the enraged animal away with his left hand- there is a horrible tense moment when the kids hit the ground and the horse prepares to strike- and before anyone knows what has happened, the boy is gaping down at the stump where his left index finger used to be, the horse's anger is turned to fright at the scent and taste of human blood, and Alice is left to regard the scene in utter horror. There is a slow motion shot of Andrew's golden cup-stacking ring spinning through the air to land amidst churned up mud and dirt.

Obviously Andrew is unable to compete in the championship the following day, and Alice is declared winner by default. There is a high degree of tension between the two of them, but in the end, Andrew swallows his bitterness and approaches the winner. For he has come to a startling realization; he loves her more than cup stacking. Once he declares his love, he proposes a plan to become her manager, and there is a fading shot of the two of them cup stacking off into the sunset.

Obviously the main protagonist is Andrew, who must ignore the derision of his fellow cup stackers as well as the complete lack of encouragement and support from his friends and family. Alice is also a protagonist, for she assists Andrew, but she also has a goal of her own: to remain the US cup stacking champion. In the end everyone gets what they desire, which is why critics believe that this will be the most popular movie to hit theatres this summer.

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