We have a number of full-length movies that air on our Princess TV channels, although it’s not always clear what will be showing when. I’ve been pleased to catch The Wrecking Crew documentary, Hitch, The Sound of Music, and some delightful art history documentaries at various times. However, one of the movies which I’ve been dying to see from start to finish is The Proposal, starring Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock, the latter of whom I’m a HUGE fan.
Well, when I saw in our daily schedule (called “The Princess Patter,” if you’re curious) that The Proposal would be showing twice today, during times I had nothing else scheduled, you’d better believe I penciled it in my planner. The brief glimpses I had caught indicated that it would be a romantic comedy set in Alaska, and so, with expectations sensibly lowered (I love rom-coms but appreciate the fact that there’s a low bar), I settled back against my pillows to enjoy it.
Let me first say that there was much I did enjoy, not the least of which was Sandra Bullock’s performance and the sweet all-Americanness of Ryan Reynolds, whom I had not previously watched. I adore the woman who played the mom (she played the exact same character in Elf), and Betty White can do no wrong.
But…the entire movie was centered around a trope I detest: the uptight, hellish female boss that needs to find true love and learn her place.
I’m not saying there are no such female bosses in the corporate world. I in fact worked for at least one female boss who was unreasonably demanding, rude, and mercurial in her moods, and it was certainly miserable. But even that boss didn’t succumb to the tropes attached to Sandra Bullock’s character (Margaret Tate) – who apparently wears her stilettos in the Alaskan hinterlands, can’t roll (seriously?) her own ludicrously heavy suitcase, and falls to pieces in panic about the world’s most adorable puppy.
I’m sorry, but any woman smart enough to be a high-powered editor at the top of the publishing food chain knows how to wear tennis shoes and sweats in the outdoors. Even the infamously demanding boss Anna Wintour must wear (Armani) sweats and (Chanel) tennis shoes when she relaxes at her country estate. (She has at least one, right?)
I grant you, the screenwriting was pretty weak across the board, and few of the characters were developed in any way – Ryan Reynolds’s ex-fiancée being perhaps the most egregious example. Her scenes consisted entirely of hanging around with his family, going to Margaret’s pseudo-bachelorette party, causing a moment of jealousy by Sandra Bullock, and convincing him to go after her in the end. Does she have her own life? Manic pixie dream girl, to be sure.
But my biggest disgust is that in my years working across dozens of office environments, as both an employee and a temp, I have met quite a few male bosses who make The Devil Wears Prada-style bosses look tame and pathetic by comparison. Screaming at subordinates, literally throwing things across the office, demanding the pettiest things of his assistants…some of the most juvenile, offensive, and appalling behavior I’ve ever seen. While the worst of my female bosses (or those I’ve observed) was, at most, emotionally abusive. Yet we have movie after movie about these supposedly hellish women (though so few female executives even exist in the real world), and I can’t remember for the life of me a movie about a horrible male boss who fell in love and was taught to be a nicer person through public humiliation and his female subordinate telling him to “Stop talking!” (Actual quote from The Proposal.)
Many, many writers, bloggers, and scholars have written about this topic, with far better research to back them up and more acute points to make. Unfortunately, because I’m on pay-per-megabyte satellite internet, I am not taking the time to link to them. I’ll be the first to acknowledge that this blog post is strongly anecdotal. I’m definitely not asking for a debate! I guess I just want acknowledgement, and maybe the reassurance that other women are fed up, too.
Some days, you just have to say, “ENOUGH.”
Though I am an employee of Princess Cruises, all opinions are mine only and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.