Crush Groovin'

Our male and female pundits attend the press junket and then ponder the subtext of surfer girls

LYT: Don't you find it interesting that Blue Crush director John Stockwell is on this whole girl-power kick, going off on the "sexist" guys who'd rather "appreciate a cute girl in a bikini, but ain't gonna give up a wave for them," yet the movie's marketing is all about appreciating cute girls in bikinis? I mean, on the poster they're not actually surfing but just standing there looking sultry, wearing less than they generally do in the film itself. For all the talk about tapping the teenage-girl market — "girls go in packs to movies, guys might follow them" — I think it's clear which gender they're trying to sell to. But then again, I've never been a cute girl in a bikini. I'm assuming you have, so what's the appeal here?

AF: Well, I disagree with you that the film's poster is designed to be salacious in order to lure men — it actually seems pretty wholesome — they're wearing decent, human-size swimming attire, not some skimpy Brazilian confection. Kate Bosworth mentioned during the interview that the bathing suits chosen for the movie were actually what women surfers wore out on 20-foot waves, not some pervy Lolita fantasy. And actually, I think this image will capture the imagination of young girls. The actresses are in a beautiful, natural setting, looking athletic and determined. It's not like they're slathered in makeup or posing seductively on some car hood. Girls can appreciate seeing an attractive chick; it's sort of empowering! Unlike men, who seem to instantly equate any visual appreciation of their own gender with gayness. Do you think guys will go to see this movie?

LYT: I guarantee guys will go see this movie based on the poster alone, especially if they get wind of the "J.Lo at the Oscars" dress the boyfriend makes Kate wear for "the big date" later on in the movie, which Bosworth called "classy," even though her friends and sister in the movie told her it makes her look like a Barbie. I think those guys will be disappointed, though: Michelle Rodriguez and Sanoe Lake, who is a pro surfer, barely get out there on the waves, and every time Kate does, she seems to end up chickening out, until she actually has to ask the boyfriend what to do. I think it's cool that he tells her she shouldn't have to ask him. But compare this with the other flicks Michelle has done, say The Fast and the Furious or even Resident Evil, and I think you'd have to say it's less female-empowering than her norm. As for men equating visual appreciation of their gender with gayness, did you see The Scorpion King? Shirtless guys up the wazoo, yet I don't know any gay men who went.

Shirts vs. skins: A boy and a girl debate — is it girl power or sex appeal?
John P. Johnson
Shirts vs. skins: A boy and a girl debate — is it girl power or sex appeal?

AF: Actually, I thought she was a ringer for Britney Spears in that J.Lo hoochie Armani dress — suddenly she lost all spark and individuality and morphed into this generic sleek blonde with tamed-down hair. Kinda scary. But I like that she said she rejected other, more sheer dresses for fear of living up to what her truant sister said about the dress in the movie: "I can see your boobs!" And then she gets pissed off and wades into the lagoon in that fancy outfit. There's an element of wild, tomboy rebellion in this movie — it's certainly not all glamour and self-consciousness and prissy regard for social rules, which young women are fed nonstop in fashion magazines and teen movies. Nor is it just a lot of mindless "girls kick ass" truisms slung together to make a buck. I think it actually (and unbelievably, in this cynical world) succeeds in saying something important to young girls.

LYT: Really? I kinda thought she was a generic blonde the whole movie. I wish Sanoe or Michelle would've been cast in the lead role instead. Interesting that Michelle actually didn't want the lead — she even implied that it would be too risky for her to be saddled with carrying the box office, and I quote: "I pat Kate on the back, she can't go wrong, but I can because people have been waiting for me to do a movie all by myself. I can't do that right now, not with a surfer movie." Do you think Kate can't go wrong? If this is really a girl-power movie, why not have the kick-ass lady from Girlfight in the lead? You gotta admit, when Michelle was going off on how she only wanted to do movies that take risks, and I asked her what risks this movie took, she went totally speechless. I mean, I love her work, but come on. And let's talk about the boob issue — hell, I always wanna talk about it. In Entertainment Weekly's summer preview issue, a big deal was made about surf girls not having big breasts, and Mika Boorem (the sister) actually makes a reference during the movie to the possibility of the boyfriend buying breast implants for Kate's character. Is this a big step forward? I mean, sure, Kate's no Pam Anderson, but she's not exactly flat either, and Michelle Rodriguez certainly isn't.

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