Review of and Defense of What’s Your Number

I truly wanted to see this opening weekend because I love Anna Faris, but grad school and a series of bad reviews got in the way. Finally made it out to see the last Sunday night showing- probably before they yank it away from theaters.  I thought it would kind of be like The Ex List, with Elizabeth Reaser, the tv show I liked that got cancelled after a few episodes.  Yes, the conceit of the magazine article seemed quite ridiculous too- why would a woman let such a thing mentally block her? But- just go with it.

The previews/trailers didn’t do it justice. The whole, “I’ll help you hide from your girlfriends if you help me find my exes” thing between Ally and her neighbor Colin (Chris Evans) didn’t jive. It wasn’t until you find out that his dad was a cop and he knows how to track people down did that make any sense.

Strangely enough, the movie opens exactly like Bridesmaids did- Ally goes to the bathroom to freshen up before her guy wakes up just like Wiig’s Annie does.  I’ll tell you how What’s Your Number differs from BridesmaidsBrides tries to appeal to a male audience with barfing and diarrhea. That’s great for teen boys and dudes who never grew up- so it worked. WYN worked on the women’s front.  I wanted to like Bridesmaids, but hated it the first time around. It’s grown on me since. My initial opinion was that Wiig’s character was really alienating, off-putting and way too into herself, as opposed to Faris’ character’s self deprecation and natural silliness, which I found more relatable.

WYN’s previews make the protagonist, Ally, look like she gives a shit about the numbers, but it’s really a piece about a woman who doesn’t care, but feels pressured to, and how damaging articles in women’s magazines can be.  Ally obviously comes from the school of ‘Do Me Feminism’ and we see her low self esteem moments- what woman hasn’t had them? Assuming, she’s smart and always safe- does a woman have to seriously contemplate every sexual encounter?

Compared to other rom-coms, Ally is realistic and the Anne Hathaway characters out there are prudish, scrubbed and safe for puritanical American consumption. Women are trapped into still acting “pure”. The evidence? Articles in The New Scientist and AskMen even- where women lie- play down the number of sexual partners they have because they’re afraid of being judged – like Ally does at first in the movie.  We’re shamed for some reason into pretending we didn’t have certain conquests that we did.  Rare is the female character who is unapologetic about it like Samantha on Sex and the City.  Men wear their numbers like a badge of their testosterone levels.

What would’ve helped? Probably better trailers and better marketing, but– As cheesy as the exposition was in Crazy Stupid Love with Ryan Gosling’s character on why he’s such a player, it worked- you find out why he’s a man whore with low self esteem- his mom was cold and aloof, yada yada. With Colin we don’t know much about his psychology except that his dad worked a lot and didn’t take him to as many ball games as he would’ve liked.  Also, bestiality talk still isn’t that palatable- and there was some of it- about a dog in WYN. Cutting that would’ve been nice, but I see also that it shows how desperate some people are.  The strip basketball scene and the clay carvings were both- ehh.

WYN breaks some conventions nicely. Brides shows Annie always going back to the asshole, the playa (played by Jon Hamm). It wants her to be with the safe, nice, caring cop. In WYN, Colin has an equal in Ally. She’s on his level. She’s a dude who’s banged a string of people too. He’s flawed. She’s flawed and they accept each other. In the end, Annie conforms more than Ally does.

Neither Ally or Colin are society’s “safe” and “acceptable” mates.  Emma Stone’s character in Crazy Stupid Love is- she’s perfect- in law school and cool.  She’s presentable.  Why shouldn’t women have “hoes in area codes” and then try to find out if they maybe missed a needle in a hay stack? Men do in the movies and “the one” they find just consents to it.

I don’t think America could wrap their heads around certain things in WYN. It opens with talking about doggie style sex and then moves onto a discussion anal later.

The ending begins with Ally yelling that she’s a “jobless whore” and ending up with her man whore neighbor (which we saw coming, but didn’t expect in this way).  There’s also the scene where Colin and Ally walk to an “open house” and they talk about the type of woman who you can take home to your family, [bake an apple pie with your mom- or something–a list of characteristics I forget- will have to get a hold of the script] who’ll then take off her glasses and “fuck you sideways”. Colin says, “This woman doesn’t exist”.  She only exists on a show like New Girl or movies written by men.  Here, I think the writers are referring to the manic pixie dream girl again. Kudos to the writers of WYN for this. It’s ridiculous that women have to try to shoe-horn themselves into certain molds.  In WYN, Ally escapes this conformity and confinement by “being herself”.  WYN WYN.

Look at the posters for WYN

Visual rhetoric here:  Ally’s on top of the numbers. She has a man behind her.

Btw, the runner with Chris Pratt (Faris’ real life husband) in WYN is hilarious.

Liked Mylod’s directing.

Ally’s series of mishaps with guys is a riot- all the past Allys had us rolling.

You’ll have to see it. Viva la “jobless whore”.

*** Check out the latest “T&A Do LA” on LASnark.com. We talk tv and women.

Of “Cougars” and “Kittens” in Vampire Visual Rhetoric from the Last Three Decades: Ageism, Sexuality, Conformity and Ethics in Relation to Contemporary Fictional Female Vampires in Film & Television

Various excerpts:

Aging- damned if you do (mortals), damned if you don’t (vampires).

Western society has lumped openly sexual single women into two categories– cougars and kittens.

Female vampires in film and television are most often the older women, often by hundreds of years.  They feed on “defenseless” younger men, thus making them “cougars”.  In Once Bitten the Countess needs the blood of a young male virgin to stay beautiful. In Bram Stoker’s Dracula, as directed by Francis Ford Coppola, the brides of Dracula feed on Jonathan Harker.  These women who cannot have children are depicted as baby eaters.  True Blood’s Lorena Krasiki is the ultimate cougar, entrapping Vampire Bill. Pam De Beaufort is an unapologetic bi-sexual cougar vampire business woman.

Then there are the perpetual nymphettes, the “kittens” who do have claws, possessing physical strength and worldly goods they want, just not mature feminine whiles or forms.  Claudia from Interview with the Vampire is one. In her tween body, she pretends to be lost or victimized to lure her next human meal.  For Jessica Hamby from True Blood, being a teenager is a real pain, especially since her hymen grows back every time she has sex, a side effect of being a night dweller who heals ever so quickly.  These two who are forever young must battle their thirst as well as their own body images, where as female vamps who are turned later in life are already more comfortable with their sexuality. Eli from Let the Right One In is a kitten with the mind of a cougar. She is Oskar’s tool for revenge who takes him far away from his former life, makes him her guardian and her accomplice.

The trait shared by all these women is infertility. Mrs. Fortenberry, upon meeting Jessica Hamby, points out that the vampire is no good for her son, Hoyt, since Jessica “cannot give him babies”.  The female vampire is seen as one that must destroy life since she cannot produce it.  In Van Helsing, the brides of Dracula yearn for their own babies. With the help of science and external mucousy sacks, they get them for a spell.

 

Even after ‘coming out of the coffin’, female vampires are given a bad rap, extending antiquated negative stereotypes of childless women being witches and whores because they entice men and boys into alternative lifestyles that do not involve traditionally being a husband or father.

Vampires: Myths of the Past and the Future

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show details 4:27 AM (5 hours ago)

Hello,

Once again many thanks for sending in your abstract.

I am pleased to say that your paper has been accepted for the conference.
We had an overwhelming response both in quantity and quality so we ask that if you are unable to attend please notify us as soon as possible to allow someone else to take your place.

The programme itself will be online soon at the link below but it is shaping up to be very exciting indeed.

We have five keynote speakers, including Sir Christopher Frayling, who are all recognized experts in their field and we also have a world premier of a short black and white vampire film with especially composed music for the performance.

All in all November in Lond is looking to be very exciting indeed and I look forward to seeing you there.

Best

Simon

Vampires: Myths of the Past and the Future

An interdisciplinary conference organised by Simon Bacon, The London
Consortium in collaboration with the Centre for the Study of Cultural
Memory, Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies, University of London
Deadline for submissions: 30 April 2011

Conference dates: 2nd – 4th November 2011

Venue: Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies, School of Advanced
Study, University of London

Myths of vampires and the undead are as old as civilisation itself,
wherever humans gather these ‘dark reflections’ are sure to follow.
Whether as hungry spirits, avenging furies or as the disgruntled dearly
departed, they have been used to signify the monstrous other and the
consequences of social transgression. Embodying the result of a life
lived beyond patriarchal protective proscription that quickly changes
from dream to nightmare and from fairy tale to ghost story.

However their manifold and multifarious manifestation also provides a
point of opposition and resistance, one that subverts majority narrative
and gives agency to the disenfranchised and oppressed within society.
This is seen most clearly in the late twentieth century where, in a
plethora of filmic and literary texts, amidst a growing ‘sympathy for
the devil’ the vampire is constructed as a site of personal and social
transition. Here alternative narratives (e.g. feminist, ethnic,
post-colonial discourses etc) find expression and ways in which to
configure their own identity within, or in opposition to, the dominant
cultural parameters revealing hybridity as the catalyst for future myth
making.

In the course of the past century the vampire has undergone many
transformations which now see them as a separate evolutionary species,
both genetically and cybernetically, signifying all that late capitalist
society admires and desires thus completing its change from an
abhorational figure to an aspirational one; the vampire is no longer the
myth of a murky superstitious past but that of a bright new future and
one that will last forever.

This interdisciplinary conference will look at the various ways the
vampire has been used in the past and present to construct narratives of
possible futures, both positive and negative, that facilitate both
individual and collective, either in the face of hegemonic discourse or
in the continuance of its ideological meta-narratives.

Keynote speakers include:

Stacey Abbott

Catherine Spooner

Milly Williamson

We invite papers from a wide variety of disciplines and approaches such
as:  anthropology, art history, cultural studies, film studies, history,
literary studies, philosophy, psychology, theology, etc.

Possible themes include but are not limited to:

*       Myths, fairy tales and urban legends
*       Cross cultural colonisation; vampiric appropriation and        reappropriation
*       Cinema, Manga/ Anime and gaming
*       Fandom, lifestyle, ‘real’ vampires and identity configuration
*       Minority discourse and the transcultural vampire
*       Genetics, cybernetics and the post human
*       Blood memory, vampiric memory and the immortal archive
*       Dracula vs. Nosferatu; Urban vs. Rural
*       Globalisation, corporations and ‘Dark’ societies
*       Immortality, transcendence and cyberspace
*       Old World/ New World and vampiric migration
*       From stakes to crosses to sunlight
*       Blood Relations and the vampiric family
*       Abjection, psychoanalysis and transitional objects

http://igrs.sas.ac.uk/index.php?id=496

Got your fangs shined up?