Ricky Gervais likes Girls and Girls Like Status

November 6, 2009
By | 3 Comments

So I’m not living in a place where my social life includes television or movie theaters or talking about things that aren’t terrifying. As a result I was not reduced to watching Ricky Gervais’ The Invention of Lying by myself; I was reduced to watching some guy on the Internet’s camcorder recording of Ricky Gervais’ The Invention of Lying by myself. I may have some commentary on the slow, low-contrast world of Internet movie piracy at some point in the near future. There’s also maybe something interesting about The Invention of Lying‘s rather sloppy contribution to contemporary debates about religion.

For now, however, just a quick note on gender. So, throughout the film, Jennifer Garner’s character likes the cute, roundish Ricky but rejects his advances for fear of their union producing “fat, snubbed-nosed children.” In the long run, of course, he gets the girl and the final scene features the happy family, years in the future, with the pregnant Garner serving dinner to Ricky and their fat, snub-nosed (yet cutely roundish) son. The message is rather simple it would seem: fat, snubbed-nose guys can be charming or wealthy and, really, what’s so bad about fat, snubbed-nose little boys? Heck, they might just grow up to be charming or wealthy.

My only real observation is that this scene would have been utterly different were it a fat, snub-nosed little girl. The fat, snub-nosed boy, the movie teaches us, can grow up and marry Jennifer Garner. Pretty sweet deal. However, the female version, the movie tells us…well it doesn’t tell us anything cause fat, snub-nosed girls aren’t in movies. However, it’s probably safe to say that the warm, aww-shucks feeling the film’s final scene offers would have been severely mitigated were the audience subjected to thoughts of the chubby girl’s potential future difficulties as a result of being overweight and plain-looking (at least in comparison to the rest of the film’s women). So guys go for looks, girls go for status and if you’re a guy who writes movies, well, pretty sweet deal. Best not to mention what it implies for everyone else.


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3 Responses to “ Ricky Gervais likes Girls and Girls Like Status ”

  1. Jonathan Gray on November 7, 2009 at 4:43 PM

    I haven’t seem the film, but these types of narratives always seem to suffer from a fatal flaw — if the message is that pudgy guys can still get the beautiful girl, if the girl is so shallow that his pudginess is a barrier in the first place, it doesn’t say much for the “conquest”: good for you, pudgy guy, you got a shallow person to fall in love with you. Or perhaps it’s the dream of re-education: pudgy guys are invited to imagine their success at re-educating “hot girls” to look beyond looks; yet, as you point out, how convenient that the re-education is for the women, not the pudgy guys who think they’re too cool for pudgy girls.

    • Rebecca Bley on November 14, 2009 at 3:18 PM

      I had similar complaints about this movie. At one point, Gervais’ character says something along the lines of, “She’s the kindest person on Earth” – which is basically the opposite of anything we’ve seen thus far in the film. He has fallen in love with her based on her looks, before really knowing her, and is dismayed when she judges him based on his looks.

      • Matt Sienkiewicz on November 15, 2009 at 2:12 AM

        Part of this is the films incredibly messy premise I suppose. Her awfulness is supposed to be explained by having to be ‘honest’ although it’s not clear why this compels people to say every horrible notion that crosses their minds.

        This discussion is missing the other side of this genre’s romantic formulas though: The BAD Boyfriend who is always very handsome and a total jerk, ala Rob Lowe here.

        The overall message seems to be something along the lines of: Super Hot Girls would know that Pudgy Guys are best if they weren’t corrupted by Super Hot Guys who, deep down, really are unredeemable jerks. In some ways this is the most dismissive aspect of the whole thing, although I guess nobody feels too bad about good looking men getting a hard time in The Wedding Singer or whatever.