Thursday, February 14, 2008

Chick flicks revisited

I'm sure you remember vividly when I said opera is a chick flick. This is back when I was still giving advice to composers. Well, in the March issue of Vanity Fair there is an article by James Wolcott giving a man's perspective on chick flicks. He quotes the Playboy list of the 10 worst chick flicks of all time:

10. The Notebook (haven't seen it)
9. Sleepless in Seattle
8. Fried Green Tomatoes
7. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (haven't seen it)
6. Dirty Dancing
5. The Bridges of Madison County
4. Bridget Jones's Diary (laughed)
3. Steel Magnolias (hated it, hate movies with fatal diseases except Dark Victory)
2. Ghost (haven't seen it)
1. Beaches (I've always heard it was bad so didn't go see it)

I notice none of these are in my top 25 chick flicks list.

Bridget Jones's Diary with its Jane Austen plot would definitely make an opera. Dirty Dancing? Maybe. Opera singers would have to dance.

He distinguishes two distinct genres: the women's movie usually starring Bette Davis and the chick flick with modern (Sex and the City) women. Legally Blonde, which might make a good opera, is the latter. Now Voyager is the former.

The transition between the two styles came with a series of movies starring Barbra Streisand, principally The Way We Were. Now this could make a great opera. The others so far have been comedies, and composers today don't seem to want to write comic operas. I think this is misguided.

The desirable thing about either one of these genres is that they include strong roles for women. A chick flick isn't going to be about a prostitute who sacrifices herself. It's more likely to be about a prostitute who gets the guy. Or throws over the guy and goes to law school.

Philip Glass worked very hard getting women into his Appomattox opera, but the result was forced and confused.

Think chick flick.


Lucy said...

This is an untimely comment, but I'm browsing through the archives, and I thought this was great fun! Also, two things:

1. After I described the plot of "Fanciulla del West" to my mother, she decided that I should in future describe all operas to her as being "more or less like a romance novel."

2. I would wholeheartedly support the making of an opera based on "Now, Voyager."

Dr.B said...

See post on smoking.