I watched blue crush last Monday because I was hungover as a dog and I didn’t want to do anything but watch a film I’d seen a thousand times before. It got me thinking: my favourite kind of hangover movie is the « girl is good at a sport and becomes pro » movie. Right now there’s blue crush and chalet girl in my mind, but also Ice Princess and Bring it On. I know you hate ice princess, even though I think it’s a stone cold banger. It 100% passes the Bechdel test, it offers multiple characterisations if what it is to be a strong woman, it combats anti-feminist ideas of femininity (that you can either be smart OR beautiful and not both, whereas the premise of this is that you can do both, which is true because you are both and I am both and so are all of the women I know).
Ngl another big seller of these movies is that there’s always a snog (prime hangover vibe) there’s something to root for (a big competition) and almost always the character has got no money to compete (REL8ABLE). It’s like they tackle huge themes of classed oppression, gendered oppression in masculine fields (snow boarding/surfing – not nec. Ice skating) whilst mixing it with a slice of romance. Even tho you sometimes r like « I do not want to watch chalet girl AGAIN Lucy! » I know that secretly u do, because secretly you love watching that girl from the worst witch and chuck bass from gossip girl fall in love in the snow, and also that you secretly love watching someone learn to b a great snowboarder. (Although ngl, this trope of the poor girl becoming a bad ass sports person could also lose the « rich boy » aspect bc I don’t feel like she needs a rich man in the end of any of these scenarios. Like the class barrier that keeps the two apart is only crossed by achieving a meritocratic status of success – becoming a pro – and really if it is T R U E L U V they should like idk have a relationship based on mutual respect for their origins but YOUKNOW)
I wonder if part of the comfort of these films on a hangover is that they’re interconnected with all other hangovers. They come with the associated memory of going to M&S to by the 2 for £10 ready meal deal and drinking a bottle of wine and having a fancy pre-cooked one. Or they’re tinged with the promise of an entire platter of chicken goujons, or they just feel like the taste of Diet Coke the morning after.
Every hangover I have has you in it, because almost every good night I’ve had, has had you in it. I mean not all of them, but when I go out with you I never wake up with the fear. So, when I go out without you, and am hungover without you, I put in a film we’ve watched and I feel like I am not hanging in my bed a l o n e.
Every single one goes something like this: eyes slit open at some ungodly hour (it’s actually 11am). I mumble something about wanting to die (I think I’m dead. How did we get HOME?) you are usually either a) already awake or b) groaning that I need to shut up and sleep a bit more. Then, when we r both ready we lurch unsteadily to the kitchen. I make a coffee which you decline because (quite frankly) you’re weird and don’t like coffee. Then we turn on the oven and put chicken goujons from the freezer onto the tray. Sometimes there are chips. Most times there aren’t. I get the ketchup, the coffee, and a Diet Coke and put it on the coffee table. You are pulling up Netflix on the telly. You tell me we have choices. We usually entertain the idea of watching something new or good before having the following convo: (There’s a dead dad in this one. I don’t want a dead dad movie – can we watch ice princess?. Absolutely not, Lucy. I hate ice princess. Chalet Girl? Fine) I think this is how it goes because one time we watched Love Rosie and you forgot the dad died half way through and I was absolutely traumatised by it.
Now normally I would not admit that these r my fave hangover movies because I think people will think that I’m lame. But ngl, they r lame movies but they are also very very good, and they serve a real purpose to remind me of something: not all women in film only talk about boys. Women in film can often be poor and do good stuff. Women in film can be bad ass, they can be good at stuff, they can look after a family and do a job and still achieve a dream. What’s more is that the women in these films are made specifically to talk to women. If you think about a lot of rom coms they’re made for women, but not necessarily by women, and continue to perpetuate the notion that we’re nothing without a man (BORING). The women in these films remind me of my sisters and they also remind me of you.
You are one of the smartest people I have ever known. You look at a situation and you just know what to do. You never fail to have a plan. You’re also 100% up for anything as much as I am. I think there hasn’t been a single time when either one of us has come up with a plan where the other one said « no ». It’s just kind of a prerequisite; if you’re going I’m going and there’s no two ways about it. You do ur job, you work hard, you work on ur dreams, you let no one take u for a ride, you get fucked on the weekend, and I am in awe of u.
To me, you’re like the women in Blue Crush, or Chalet Girl, except that the job you do is really cool. In those films those women are dedicated, a little bit distracted by boys (comme tout le monde), and completely and utterly driven by a passion of theirs. They’re unapologetic about being women in their chosen field, they’re unapologetic about who they are and where they come from, and they’re really fucking cool. You are all these things and when I hang out with you I feel like a little bit of that badass magic rubs off on me, too.
In a way both of these films: Blue Crush and Chalet Girl subvert the « romantic Comedy » trope by placing the protagonists’ wish fulfilment in a personal achievement as opposed to a man. Now yeah, I know, both movies have got a gorgeous dude as a love interest, and yeah he still functions as a kind of Richard-Gere-esque saviour (they’re poor, he’s rich, he offers them a way out) but the crucial thing is that both women, Anne-Marie in Blue Crush and Kim in Chalet Girl achieve success without them.
I think the reason people dismiss these films so readily is because they’re squarely in the category of « women’s film » (because they’re about women 🙄🙄🙄🙄) but they’re sports movies… (a genre typically geared towards men). But here’s a kicker: women generally are less choosy about the kinds of film they like to watch, and society as a whole is way more accepting of a woman who likes to watch gangster films or action flicks, than a man who really enjoys Ten Things I Hate About You, or hes just not that into you. In Feminism at the Movies: Understanding Gender in Contemporary Popular Cinema, there’s a general understanding that « women watch a wide variety of films, and if fans of the « woman’s film » rarely confine themselves to that genre »
It is important to note, though, that despite the alteration in outcome for the « love arc » in these movies, they still adhere to classic tropes of consumerist capitalism. Being poor is bad and success is only realised if you achieve success and become the very best. A mediocre life with mediocre dreams isn’t really the point of a romcom tho tbh – they’re classic escapism. Even so, the consumerism of the films settings directly influence our reading of the characters: Anne Marie as a maid in a Hawaiian hotel; and Kim as a chalet girl. In the latter though, Kim is still classed out. Where Anne Marie has comradeship in her colleagues, Kim’s class still marks her as an outsider in a role usually reserved for « posh girls »
Either way I recognise us in these two protagonists (which is definitely the point). I see our desire for achieving something, the ache for finding someone to love us. But what I see answered in these films is that love is not the be all and end all. In fact, despite the eye-roll worthy Herero romances, the films are full of love found in truly admirable platonic and familial relationships.
In Blue Crush, Anne Marie relies on her friends far more than the rich and pretty two dimensional football hero love interest. They’re the ones on their boards on the waves encouraging her to try again, they’re the ones who pull her out of the surf after nearly drowning (the surf, it could be said, might stand as a neat metaphor for the tides of life, pulling Anne Marie hither and thither and threatening to pull her under, riding the wave a metaphor, perhaps, for overcoming the struggle of a troubled home life, a lack of money, and needing to keep herself, her friends, and her little sister’s heads above water, the fact that her friends support her in the water and on shore a metaphor for their steadiness in her life) The women in Blue Crush love and support each other to be better friends, better sisters and better surfers. To have confidence in themselves, and trust in each other.
This is where I see us. In a way it’s where I see all of my female friends, in that we each support uplift and encourage each other . To be better at our work, to be better supporters, and to believe in ourselves. I realise, as I get older, how important my female friends are to me, and how they offer a wholly different kind of support to my male friends. I think, when you’re 16, you end up battling a whole bucket load of internalised misogyny. You don’t recognise yourself in the women in media, and so you wrongly assume that you are one of a very select group of women who think differently to this. « I’m not like the other girls » is a thing for a reason, and men similarly perpetuate this myth by saying the same thing back to you. But it’s just false, the more women I know the more I realise that the women in film simply don’t exist. No one spends a life only talking about boys, and what they are doing. Yeah we go to the pub to bitch about this weeks love interest turned fuck-boy, but we mostly talk about each other and about stuff we’ve seen. We all believed we weren’t like other girls, until we started talking to women who weren’t our blood sisters and realised that throughout adolescence were all performing this parody of masculinity in order to be accepted. It’s bollocks and it’s bullshit and I am eternally grateful to my female friends for their constant affirmation of the fact that « not liking pink or girl movies » isn’t a goddamned personality trait.
I think I learned this kind of comradeship from you first. I learned sorority in pub toilets; on walks home down dark alleys and badly lit streets; in seminars where we were spoken over despite the female majority. It is a wonderful thing to find more sisters in the world. I would pull you out of the ocean and into my jet ski any time.
Now get the chicken goujons out the oven before they burn.