Week 7; February 24th-March 2nd Blog Entry #2 (Done by R).

Objectifying the minorities

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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.”

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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.

-R.

Works Cited

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/&gt;.

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4 Comments

  1. Week 7; February 24-March 2nd Blog – Comment/Response (Done by S).

    Having seen the film G.B.F. as well for this assignment I was really interested to read your blog and listen to your impression of the issues portrayed in the film. Like you I find it despicable that people make the conscious choice to objectify and dehumanize others for the purpose of their own betterment. Yet this is not something new, elementary and high school years are tough on self-esteem and self-confidence. Despite school led initiatives of ‘zero-tolerance’ for bullying, empathy awareness and monthly character trait focus programs there are many students who become targets based on the fact that they identify outside the boundaries of conventional norms. Members of the LGBT community are victims of much abuse as a result of this. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to improve for them when they exit the halls of school and head for the big world. The forces that maintain social ‘rules of acceptability’ are formidable to be sure. Any deviation from these norms results in some form of punishment designed to coerce the individual back in line.
    I really appreciated you bringing the class readings from Lauren Bans together with the film G.B.F. to strengthen your viewpoint concerning the power of popular culture on daily choices. Fear is a very strong motivator and the desire to fit in and be found acceptable or better yet to be considered special in some facet by others runs deep inside most people. That sense of longing to belong and being part of a community is integral to the human experience; we were made to be in relationship with one another not to be islands. Regardless of the issue, whether it’s the kindergarten child who just really wants to open their backpack and find the same ‘cool’ (latest) snack as the other kids in his class or the older child who’s beginning to learn that they’re treated differently because of the colour of their skin or the “God” they worship this world can be a tough place. I think of phrases generated from the world of sports like “no pain, no gain”, “go big or go home”, “last man standing” and hope that those don’t (or haven’t) become the mindset we live by no matter which side of it we find ourselves on.

    – S.

  2. Without having seen the film, I can definitely interpret the types of labels this film puts on characters based on the pictures that go along with your blog. Their body language and outfits reflect stereotypical high school characters that they most likely represent. This ties in with the stereotypes you mention surrounding the white girls compared to the black girl. Representation of different races and sexualities in movies definitely comes with many subliminal messages. I find it disappointing and unfortunate that filmmakers are constantly using gender and race typecasts in their films which are targeted to young consumers. Even if certain stories are created with a harmless parody undertone, inaccurate messages can still become internalized.
    I like your connection between the film G.B.F and Same Shit, Different World. Like the way in which the video game Second Life attempts to fulfil the ongoing need for things people don’t have, it seems like the new gay best friend trend aims to do the same. The popular girls thirst for the next best thing even if it may ultimately cause more damage than benefit. Finally, I completely agree that one’s sexuality should not define them. It’s true that people should not be belittled, objectified, or mistreated because they are part of a minority. Every individual is entitled to their sexual rights, that is, everyone deserves and should have sexual freedom, equality, and dignity. Being different than society’s definition of normal isn’t enough to induce discrimination.

    -J.

  3. I have not seen the film, but from the blog post, it is clearly understood that gender stereotyping and the desire to conform play a key role in the plot. The issue of GBFs separates the person from their true identity in the wrong way. It champions one aspect of who they are, which in turn becomes their full identity. The stereotypes that are associated with gay persons are only further entrenched into society, as gay men and women may feel the need to conform to the “Hollywood” ideals of someone who is gay. I agree with the above commentator, in saying that it is unfortunate how often film makers and TV show creators commercialize real issues like gender stereotyping to make a profit. Although I hold out hope that the film doesn’t champion the teenage search for a GBF, I fear that the commercializing of someone’s struggles is becoming too common. The people who see this movie aren’t going to leave with the issues of social inequality resonating with them. I hope that films with true and genuine messages of gender and sexuality stereotyping make a leap into mainstream society. The issues of high school stereotyping and gender and role inequality can cause more damage than we realize. Coming out in high school must be difficult to begin with as trying to navigate the world where everyone knows your secret cannot be easy, it makes it even harder to think that you are more than just different, but that you’re not the right kind of “different”.

    -M.

  4. This film sounds like a fun, laughable movie and wish that I’d seen it for entertainment purposes, but I wonder if it focuses on the social issues that it does in the film because they are important or mainly to make a comedic movie. In attempting to be edgy and relatable they may have become a part of the problem themselves. It sounds as though the movie depicts gay people, specifically men, as an accessory who are all stereotypically the same and the male lead can be shown off at the disposal of the straight white girls. Although, the film may be doing this as a way of acknowledging that this wrong. This film sounds arguably unique for a Reelout movie because although they focus on underlying social issues, they seem to do it much differently than other films that I read about in the festival. Your description of the way that Candice is portrayed in the film makes me wonder if it was including so many different social issues in a so obviously stereotypically wrong way, that that is how it was attempting to get its message across to the viewers. I do wonder though that if this wasn’t a Reelout film, would it be interpreted as one of the teeny bopper movies that it’s making fun of? Either way, it has made me think and sounds like an amusing movie!
    L

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