I know this is fluff, but I can't get it out of my mind until I write it down.
Did you see "The Devil Wears Prada?" It was one of Katie's favorite movies, and is one of mine, too (I haven't read the book). I know it's just a story, BUT...
I have several strong opinions about this movie and what I see as its message. I am not a militant feminist, but this movie makes me feel like one. The humor is wonderful, the acting is superb, the clothes are gorgeous, and I laugh a lot every time I watch it, but there is a message in it with which I totally disagree. I used to say something about this every time Katie & I watched the movie together.
I have a very strong aversion to Andrea's (Anne Hathaway's character) boyfriend and friends mocking her for her dedication to her job. I think her boyfriend is a BIG FAT BABY (and I say so every time he whines in the movie), and I think her friends are disloyal, provincial and judging.
In my opinion, when you move to a city like NY, you usually move there to get into your field in a big way. It's not a small town; it's the center of the business world, in the USA. You don't move to NY to "play house;" you move there to "make it" in your chosen profession, in the biggest, toughest, most competitive arena there is.
It wasn't going well, at first. She had a "poor me" moment, when she felt that her boss (brilliantly played by the incomparable Meryl Streep) was unfair to her. Andrea seeks the advice of the magazine's Creative Director, Nigel (Stanley Tucci - love him!), who tells her, "Quit. I can get another girl to take your job in 5 minutes; one who really WANTS it." He tells her (truthfully) that she is whining, not trying, and then he explains to her that the industry is more than she (& her friends) snobbishly judge it to be. The pseudo-intellectual disdain in which she holds the magazine is obvious to him, and he tells her, "You don't care, because this place, where so many people would die to work, you only deign to work. And you want to know why she doesn't kiss you on the forehead and give you a gold star on your homework at the end of the day." It is a light bulb moment for her character, and she attacks her job with renewed energy. She is not going to quit.
Her boyfriend had the nerve to judge her as working without "integrity." I saw no lack of integrity in her work ethic. She worked as hard as she could to meet every requirement of a very demanding, top-of-the-profession employer. Andrea did step over her co-worker, because she was better qualified, and was offered a promotion. Should she have not taken the job offered to her, and left it for another to take? Her co-worker was clearly not going to make it; that was not Andrea's fault, but it did leave a void that needed to be filled by a qualified person. She did not create the void, but it was open for her to fill.
I think she grew to love her work and the challenges it presented. She began to get a rush from mastering a relationship with a difficult employer, figuring out how to leap over the hurdles placed in front of her, and finding her own way to do things effectively. She was using her intelligence differently than she had originally planned, but she was using it, and she was growing. She loved her job, she loved her new look, and she felt good; you could see it in her face. I think her boyfriend and friends were jealous: of her time, spent away from them, and of her sense of purpose, which had transformed from her original dream of journalism, to adapting to whatever her job required. It's even possible that her success and fulfillment, apart from them, made them feel lost or left behind. Her growth, stretching into a new area, her ability to adapt, and the changes that inevitably arose from that, struck them as "crossing a line" of honor into dishonor. It seems to me that, because she was changing, she was a threat to them, and they criticized and minimized her. What kind of relationships are those?
The final insult to my sensibilities was when her boyfriend took a job in a different city, and she decided to FOLLOW him there. He took a promotion, which caused him to move his life (without consulting her) to a new location. Hmmm...growth, professional progress, change, goodbye...What happened to her dreams? Why should she follow on his path, when he didn't support her growth and change?
I know it's just a movie; I KNOW IT. But as a woman and a mother, it wasn't possible for me to show my daughter this double-standard wrapped in a funny, feel-good story without pointing out the flaws in the logic. I always yelled at the TV when the hypocrisy flared up, and we laugh at it; that was fun. Since we watched the movie again this weekend in Katie's memory, all of this got stirred up again.
Did anyone else see it this way? Or did you take it differently?