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Pop Culture, Scourge of the Onelys (Part 3 of 42,517): He’s Just Not That Into You June 10, 2009

Posted by Onely in "Against Love"...?, As If!, Heteronormativity, Pop Culture: Scourge of the Onelys.
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kid-middle-fingerSo this last weekend, under the guise of conducting “research” for Onely, I buckled down to watch the just-released-on-DVD He’s Just Not That Into You (HJNTIY for short).

And, OMG, this friendly little kid to the right expresses exactly how I feel about the movie: Fuck you, HJNTIY!

Yup, it’s that bad. Not only for what it implies about single people (more on that in a moment), but for its horrible acting, lack of a compelling story, and general waste of my time.

In theory, the movie should be pro-Onely — I mean, what better way for single (hetero) women (and gay men?) everywhere to get to a “happy” place than to accept that sometimes, he’s (really) just not that into you – and to decide that that’s okay? Seems like a good premise. But instead, HJNTIY takes every stereotype about single people (especially single women) and conflates each one like a big ball of cotton-candy fluff, producing a lame series of (poorly connected) stories that ultimately repeat the same old (heteronormative) messages that we single people are so used to (not to mention tired of!) hearing:

  • You’re not successful unless you’re happily married (or at least coupled).
  • Life isn’t worth living unless you can find someone to share it with.
  • Single people (especially women) are desperate losers with nothing better to do but wait for the next date (or phone call).

Here are a few (select) examples:

1. Jennifer Aniston plays a woman who is “stuck” in a long-term (7 year) relationship with a boyfriend (Ben Affleck) who doesn’t want to get (“doesn’t believe in getting”) married. Her first line in the movie?

You don’t ever feel like we aren’t going against nature to not be getting married?

Aniston eventually gives Affleck the marriage ultimatum, and then they break up because he can’t commit. But by the end of the movie, they are back together again and — big surprise! — he proposes.

2. At one point, there’s a “bitch chorus” (thanks for the terminology, co-viewer Mike) of overweight, unattractive women who complain about being alone and describe the weight they’ve gained since being single (not incidentally, these appear to be the only African American characters in the movie). The message? Alone means being perpetually unhappy and overweight.

3. And the main female character, who is single and looking, literally waits by the phone for men to call! Not only that, but she also “drives by” the places where her prospective dates might be; she deliberately hangs out at a posh bar because a bad date told her he was a regular there; and she literally throws herself on top of the one guy who might not be a player, only to be rejected by him at the moment — but who shows up at her door in the final scene of the movie to “quell” her anger by shoving his tongue down her throat (yup, that’s a happy ending if I ever saw one).

The primary male character (the tongue-shoving-guy described above) deconstructs all male behavior for the desperate single female (yep, the mute one with the guy’s tongue shoved down her throat), and claims that all of the “success” stories she has heard about bad-dates-turned-good are merely exceptions to the rule (this may, in fact, be the one thing I agree with in the movie). But, as my friend Vanessa put it,

The women in this movie are exceptions in that they are exceptionally stupid!

And as if that’s not enough, the movie is decidedly anti-feminist, promoting sexist stereotypes such as:

  • Men control the direction of relationships – women must wait passively for men to accept or reject them.
  • When men are unsure of what they want, it’s effeminate.
  • Women are monogamous, but men are not.
  • Wives are not sexy; single women are.

So, to wrap this up: Fuck you, HJNTIY!

Dearest Readers, fess up: How many of you have seen HJNTIY? And how did it make you feel?

— L


1. trauma queen - June 10, 2009

ooh I have to see it now! and all Jen Aniston movies (except ‘Along came Polly’) make me cringe. Come to think of it, SHE makes me cringe!

(Rachel and Ross were beyond eww…they beat all the ‘tacky’ couples you described in one of your older posts)

Rachel - June 11, 2009

Here pic is all over San Francisco’s financial district in an ad for that water that’s supposed to give us super-powers and thus is very tempting. Hmmm. Come to think of it – that ad needs some deconstructing!

2. Sixty and Single in Seattle - June 10, 2009

Didn’t see it, won’t see it, did read the book standing up in a bookstore once, and it jarred me, helpfully — but I think the book has almost nothing other than the title to do with the movie.
And Trauma Queen, why, after reading this review, would you possibly want to support this movie with your cash and your viewing time? Life is short.

trauma queen - June 11, 2009

no no not support – never
to see the extent of how disgusting it can be..and to have a nice laugh 😛

trauma queen - June 11, 2009

i happen to have a penchant for crappy movies…serious!

3. Lauri - June 10, 2009

Oh my god, now I am very pleased with my decision to boycott this movie. I think it’s funny that one of the stereotypes is that wives aren’t sexy but single women are, but another stereotype is single women are fat and ugly (ok, this stereotype makes no sense to me- studies show that marriage increases obesity for women, and just by observation- I know I gained a lot of weight when I had a serious boyfriend, and lost it again immediately after becoming single!)

The sexism thing in this movie though is disgusting. As one of my single friends said: “yeah right, sometimes I’M just not that into HIM.” I do hate all the stereotypes of women pining for marriage, pining for any guy they meet, etc. The stereotypes of guys are just as bad, but at least under the stereotype they get to be in control of the relationship and not look pathetic. I mean it is pop culture like this that puts wrong ideas in people’s heads. This is why a lot of cool single women have trouble dating- the men assume they are pathetic losers who want to trap them into marriage.

I can’t believe how far people have taken this one little quote from a TV show. It’s ridiculous. It made sense in the context of the show, and was kinda funny. but it doesn’t hold any magical secret to life. And as my friend said, howcome it’s the WOMEN who are always waiting for the guy and anlalyzing their every move. blegh.

4. Special K - June 10, 2009

The movie can easily piss people off, hell, the whole entertainment industry (from film to sports to reality TV) has a slew of examples the simplify and reduce certain groups down to ameoba-sized cells. This is when entertainment endorses conformity to nonrealistic standards (um…think Slumdog Millionaire’s ending)…I think people need movies like this to suspend their everyday failures with love. Why? because when we see crappy relationships like this, we say “boy, my life isn’t so bad….I don’t have 8 children, a tendency to nag, and a husband that is caught cheating…)
I really liked the character with the internet dating, though….she was pukingly naive, you have to laugh at it…right?

5. Welsh Girl - June 11, 2009

I haven’t seen it yet, and had intended to as I naively thought it might put a good spin on being single. Why is it that films cannot perceive a happy ending unless it involves a couple? It promotes the whole emotional stereotype that you are missing out if you are whole on your own, rather than half of someone else.

Obviously I will now have to watch film in order to enjoy ranting at it myself!!!

6. Rachel - June 11, 2009

Okay, it’s off my Netflix list – there are too many movies I want to watch and too many books I want to read to waste my time with this junk (I got enough to rant about ;-). Thanks for the review!!!

7. Singlutionary - June 11, 2009

I saw this movie in the theatre! I hated it too. I was going to write about it at the time but lost track of those thoughts amongst so many others.

The concept seems good. I really wanted the stupid desperate girl to get a grip and start having a wonderful life all on her own. But the only way she can have a wonderful life is by her desperation finally paying off and romance dropping into her lap. Barf.

It is sexist, it is awful and it is stupid. Agreed. Agreed. Agreed. How could they turn a Singlutionary/Onely concept into a really bad ensamble romance movie with too many story lines? Only Hollywood can eff something up THAT bad.

8. Monique - June 11, 2009

Well, someone once mentioned to me that satisfied singles don’t make good drama. That’s so true. Hollywood is interested in nothing more than making money, and unfortunately, a lot of people still think you need someone in your life to be happy, that single women are always desperate, etc. So of course they’ll keep featuring the same crap over and over, because it brings cash in their pockets.

Thanks for that review. I was wondering whether or not I should rent it and/or also buy the book. You’ve answered the question for me.

9. Singletude - June 12, 2009

I guess my review pretty much sums up my thoughts. I may be the only one who just threw up in my mouth a little but didn’t need the whole barf bag. In my mind, it acknowledged that people are more complicated than the book gives them credit for, and I liked that. I also appreciated the ending, in which several of the characters are unapologetically, happily single. I do believe that’s a first!

onely - June 12, 2009

Singletude — Thanks for the link, and sorry I missed your initial review! I still stand by my “fuck you, HJNTIY,” commentary above, but then again, I did not read the book so have no idea how the movie compares… You definitely provide a worthwhile pro-single alternative perspective about the movie that I hope all of our readers will check out before making a final decision about the merits of HJNTIY!

— L

10. autonomous - June 12, 2009

I admit that I read the book and took from it some goods things and exactly what I needed at that time in my life: namely, that life is short; go live your life and be fabulous; do not waste any of it sitting around waiting for the phone to ring; do not wait for someone with whom you’re in a relationship to suddenly decide you’re the love of his life when all signs (and your gut) indicate otherwise. We know what we know- goes both ways- and paying attention to red flags early on can avert much unnecessary time, energy and emotion. I was able to get my head out of the Hoping Clouds and break off a relationship that was draining me. I felt empowered; and have been charging steadily towards autonomy ever since.
But thanks- I’ll definitely skip the movie because it sounds awful.

11. (no)sexandthecity - June 13, 2009

Just the title of the movie pisses me off. I asked a friend if she would co-write “SHE’S just not that into YOU, you pathetic douchebag loser” with me. Why the eff is it always the woman’s fault, no matter what? I didn’t want to see it because I thought it would only make me angrier. Women are desperate morons, devoid of value…the usual pathetic portrayal that disgusts me.

But I finally bit the bullet and found it to be…surprisingly dumb, cliche and exaggerated. Wasn’t compelling enough in any form to live up to its hype. A cheating man who can’t resist temptation…wow there’s a new one.

Jen Aniston’s character bothered me the most, cuz returning to him just reinforces that: It’s wrong to expect commitment from a man, much less marriage. Convince yourself you don’t want what you really want and settle for whatever he’s willing to give. Let him use you for as long as he wants until he decides to toss you aside. The man has all the power in the relationship.

Women SHOULD be less passive in determining the terms of the relationship; no one is gonna give you back the years you wasted with someone “in hopes” they’ll someday propose…meanwhile that was never their intention (unless your life is a movie). But I think we’re all conditioned to take whatever scraps of love someone’ll throw our way…

Singletude - June 16, 2009

I think there is a book like that…Yep, it’s called Be Honest–You’re Not That Into Him, Either: Raise Your Standards and Reach for the Love You Deserve by Ian Kerner. Never read it, though, so I have no idea if it has anything worthwhile to say. I think I’m allergic to these self-help books.

12. trauma queen - June 16, 2009

Well I heard SATC the movie had some interesting endings – especially Samantha’s. (Carrie’s own ending was quite similar to this movie right? i have not seen the movie..only heard from friends..)

Now isn’t Samantha onely, singlutionary and simply amazing? It’s a pity that MOST people look at her as a ‘slut’.

perhaps a movie on onely people would never do well in the box office as suggested by Monique…it is all about the money. groan!

onely - June 16, 2009

Apparently there is this movie, “My Brilliant Career” where a woman ends up happily single. I haven’t seen it–Lisa has though.

13. Singlutionary - June 16, 2009

I tried watching “My brilliant Career” and I couldn’t finish it. I pretty much thought it sucked. But maybe I was just tired.

onely - June 17, 2009

HA — it’s not exactly the most “brilliant” (polished or glitzy) movie, but it is worth watching all the way through, just for the sake of the “brilliant” ending! Promise 🙂

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