Objectifying the minorities
While this fun, flirty and easy to watch movie “G.B.F” directed by Darren Stein is a light and funny movie, it also touches on some extremely important issues in our modern day society. Every character in this film is portrayed by a classic stereotype and the film does a fantastic job of showing the immediate labeling of high school students based on their appearance and sexuality. The three popular girls who ‘rule the school’ are stereotypically skinny, tall and well dressed. There is the blonde haired, blue eyed beauty Fawcett (Sasha Pieterse), the stylish and preppy Mormon ‘Shley (Andrea Bowen) and the sassy and outgoing Caprice (Xosha Roquemore). Throughout the film, important issues such as racism and homophobia are addressed and highlighted as well as the power that popular culture holds over many high school teenagers.
In this shiny and plastic world in which these girls live in, anything that could possibly boost them even higher on the popularity scale is fought over desperately. In this film, that just so happens to be a shy young boy named Tanner who was forced to ‘come-out’ by accident to his school. The new trend that month was having your own ‘G.B.F’, which stands for Gay Best Friend. Tanner was immediately targeted by these three girls and fought over in desperation to skyrocket to the top of the popularity charts.
Tanner was not treated as a human being, or as a young boy struggling with his identity; he was treated as an object at the disposal of the popular, higher-class society. That was one of the main morals that this movie was trying to get through to the viewers. These fads and trends that claim to make one ‘more popular’ will soon go out of style, they always do. So making one of these fads an actual person who will be used to propel someone higher into the social rankings, then just dumping them when something else comes in fashion is horrible. At one point in the movie, ‘Shley confided in her friend “it’d be really neat to meet one.” Tanner and the other homosexual boys and girls around him were objectified and not treated equally at all. People in this movie saw them as a whole other species, being isolated into their own bubble that made them feel and appear to be so different to everyone else around them. “G.B.F” did a great job of over exaggerating these issues that are common problems in many high school students everyday lives. A Rotten Tomatoe critic Sherilyn Connelly stated, “[G.B.F is a] very funny and thoughtful take on how straights often objectify queers – and how increased visibility in the media can result in an expectation to conform to stereotypes.”
Identified in this movie were also the issues of racism as well. In one part of the movie, Candice told Tanner of the typical issues that there had never been a non-white or gay couple to win the title of prom King and Queen. Yet there is also some controversy in the portrayal of Candice herself. In the film she appears to dress and have the same outlook as the other two popular white girls. Yet, the sassiness and attitude that overwhelmed her personality took on the stereotype that is placed on black women.
This whole movie is based on the strong popular culture influence that has a hold over teenagers. One of the readings we read for this class, “Same Shit, Different World,” written by Lauren Bans spoke of many peoples constant fear of not fitting in and changing their appearance to seem more beautiful and feel more accepted. In her chapter she spoke of an alternate reality, a computer game, in which people can change their appearance to however they want in order to appear more beautiful and attractive (57). This not only happens online but it happens in our day-to-day lives too. We are constantly forced to read magazines and watch TV commercials of people telling us what will make us seem more popular or appear more beautiful and comparing us to the impossible. In the case of this film, the ‘must-have’ was acquiring a G.B.F. and immediately it was a priority for these girls to hunt down a fellow student to objectify and use in hopes of becoming more popular.
I loved going to the Reelout queer film and video festival because it really opened my eyes to the whole other culture that is not the typical Hollywood movie. I actually went twice and the second time saw Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth, which was very different to G.B.F, but also a fantastic movie. I thought the diversity in films that were being shown was amazing. The films still had the common themes of social acceptance and human rights that I thought came through clear and powerful.
G.B.F. had a very powerful message that I thought was portrayed very well through light-hearted humor and an attention-grabbing storyline. Just because someone identities differently to the majority, they should not be objectified and used to the advantage of these mainstream ‘privileged’ people. The influence of popular culture in many people’s everyday lives is so prominent that it can have major negative effects. No matter how different someone appears to be from the majority, they should never be abused or objectified and G.B.F. showed that very well through their film.
Bans, Lauren. Same Shit, Different World. Toronto: Pearson Canada, n.d. Print. Vol. 8 of Gender, Race and Popular Culture. 12 vols.
Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster, n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2014. <http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/gbf_2013/>.