Sunday, November 2, 2008

Romy and Michele's High School Reunion

Okay, so I know that Romy and Michele are not the classic role models. But there was just always something about them that I admired. I like that they congratulate each other on their all candy diet. They have a great friendship and a lot of freedom and I guess I kind of always identified with how in the flashbacks they aren't popular and they aren't geeks...they're just these two girls who are into looking like Madonna's Like A Virgin tour in a town that seems full of girls in those horrible Dillard prom dress ads from the 80s. Romy and Michele are pretty much doing what they want to do and having fun- well until they have to go to their high school reunion. Then they get all caught up in the classic crap of what people are going to think. They start working out like crazy and hunting down boyfriends and better jobs and when it doesn 't work out they start pigging out on junk food and have the following conversation.....

Michele(Looking at fashion magazine): Wow, the top female executives are all so pretty.

Romy: Those aren't the actual executives, Michele, they're models.

Michele: Oh I thought they looked familiar. God, they really look like executives don't they?

Romy: That's only because they're wearing those stupid suits and phony glasses and carrying briefcases.

Then Romy hits on the great idea that they can just dress up like business women and they'll wear business suits and she'll borrow someones fancy car and they'll get these huge early 90s cellphones and no one will know the difference.

You can watch the interaction here - its like at the 8 minute point

The thing about this whole concept is - since career women were such a hot topic in the 80s and 90s my generation grew up on this idea of the fast change career girl makeover. Who can really blame Romy and Michele for thinking it'll work. It worked for Melanie Griffith in Working Girl . She figures out how to dress for Manhattan instead of Staten Island and starts showing up for her boss's meetings, while the boss is away, and pretty soon she's a top exec. Or there's one of my favorites, Christina Applegate's makeover from high schooler to high powered designer in Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead. She dresses up in her mom's clothes and fakes an impressive resume and next thing ya know she's designing multiple fashion lines and orchestrating the runway shows. Both of these characters really master the art of delegation. So basically our blueprint for success is to look the part and fake a few things and you'll not only become the boss but you'll probably land the boss's boyfriend too. Note the fact that its a boyfriend because many of the times you'll overthrow another woman in your rise to the top.
The fact that Michele thinks that the models in the magazine are actually executives is because that is how high powered women are represented to us. They become fetish symbols centered around our desire to act out various power structures. Women's desire to play the career girl character is actually a desire to be noticed and taken seriously and to be an important part of the world. If women think the path to success leads through a montage type makeover scene they'll spend less time actually learning a skill and more time devoting their current wages to spurring the economy - gathering whatever the latest professional outfit and accessories are. Inconveniently, whats appropriate for professional women changes pretty much every season unlike the classic male suit which changes slightly maybe every decade.
So of course Romy and Michele's plan backfires because they haven't even thought about what their "business" is. But by the end of the movie they've realized that they are successful because they have each other and they get to have fun on their own terms. I won't give the rest away but I encourage everyone to watch the movie and to not be confused in life when models dress as executives. And I'd just like to point out that this movie relates to my last post because Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino are hilarious and there are plenty of other funny women in the movie as well.

Here's another fun clip

No comments: