You are cordially invited to RAZZ’s last project of the academic year: our virtual film festival! From 15-27 June, we will be recommending a film each day to watch, all under the theme, ‘Chick Flicks’. All of the films are available on either BOB, Mubi, or Kanopy as they all offer free entry to University of Exeter students. In addition, each film will be accompanied by at least one online feature from our writers that engages with conversations around our chosen daily movie.
What even is a chick flick though? Well, tbh, we don’t know *exactly*. If you removed some of the baggage, you’d be able to link it to simply “women’s films”, meaning that film historian Jeanine Basinger’s definition proves suitable: “a movie that places at the center [sic] of its universe a female who is trying to deal with emotional, social and psychological problems that are specifically connected to the fact that she is a woman”. However, this ignores a fundamental aspect to the genre. The term “chick flick” is steeped in derogatory connotations. The chick flick hater would say they all take on superficial themes – indulging in romantic fairy tales, encouraging toxic vanity, and not being worthy of a place in a cinephile’s canon.
This is all misogynistic, elitist bullshit. The chick flick is one of the only genres that has allowed the possibility for women to have entertaining yet complex narratives. They are pinnacles of pop culture, meaning that they are fertile ground for exploring and reflecting pertinent social issues.
Over the past couple of years, RAZZ has tried to produce content that addresses prejudice. We’ve wanted to tackle misogyny, LGBTQ+phobia, racism, classism, and elitism for starters. We’ve wanted to mix the intellectual with the frivolous, the academic with the pop culture, all to make conversations more engaging and more accessible. Chick flicks are rarely perfect, but they do act as important artefacts in addressing discrimination and marginalisation and, furthermore, in an accessible way. Watching Dirty Dancing to learn about reproductive rights or bingeing Richard Curtis films to assess the British middle class is far more approachable than reading theory books and watching PMQs. It’s also why we selected films that are freely accessible to students – so that our film festival is not concealed behind a paywall.
Our choices go some way in exhibiting the best of a genre, but they also demonstrate the genre’s pitfalls. While we may love a lot of these movies, they still perpetuate stereotypes and depict harmful cinematic patterns. We don’t want to shy away from these realities and we believe that these chick flicks start productive discussions in their shortcomings. We’ve tried to choose films that showcase a range from Hollywood to Bollywood, and from classic era to contemporary indie. It brought up some interesting debates on how we individually define the chick flick, but they are all united in centring women’s stories and having experienced unfair dismissal in some form.
There is also another reason why chick flicks were so tempting as a theme for this film festival. We won’t go so far as to use the tiresome phrases of “these turbulent and unprecedented times” where we can try to “stay safe and sane” (yawn), but we won’t lie when we say that these films have provided much comfort for us. While writing a dissertation or watching the news has sometimes proved too overwhelming, a quick You’ve Got Mail or Legally Blonde has been a very welcome and soothing escape. We wanted RAZZ to provide people with a fun and stimulating project as student media learns creative new ways to run their publications.
So, we hope you enjoy at least some of our curated RAZZ Chick Flick canon, and we encourage you to follow all of the content published on our site and social media during the two weeks (most of which will be accompanied by #RAZZFilmFest). Thanks to everyone’s support over the past academic year and sorry if we missed off your fave rom com!