Sneaking off the the afternoon matinee is getting to be something of a habit for me these days. I saw a trailer for this movie and it sounded like fun.
First you have to get past not believing that Emma Stone, who plays the main character, Olive would go totally unnoticed in high school. But she does. Until she makes up a story about losing her virginity to explain why she didn't want to go camping with her best friend. She is overheard in the bathroom by good girl Jesus freak Marianne who spreads the story all over school. Suddenly Olive is noticed by everyone.
Now some people like Roger Ebert in his review, find it difficult to believe that such a story could be such a big deal in today's high school. Well I've been to Ojai (where the story takes place) and I've been in small towns and while perhaps exaggerated, it is not totally unbelievable.
The name "Easy A" come from "The Scarlett Letter", which Olive and her classmates are studying in English. Olive decides to take full advantage of her new found notoriety, sews a scarlet A on her clothes and plays the part of the fallen woman to the max.
This is where it began to disturb me. First she agrees to pretend to have sex with her gay friend who is being bullied. Once everyone thinks he's been with her, he's accepted and popular. Ew. This movie came out before the rash of suicides by young gay victims of bullying but still...
Then she agrees to do the same for all the misfit and geeky boys in the school, in return for gift certificates to Pizza dives and home improvement stores. You can tell she's clearly uncomfortable with this but doesn't know how to get out of it.
The movie purports to be about the importance of reputation but to me this is about using women for sex. She is being used by these boys for her sexuality just as surely as if she had actually had sex wit them. And she's being used to enhance their reputation so that they can have real sex -- that is, use other girls.
The other thing that is disturbing about this film is how utterly useless all the adults in Olive's life are. Her English teacher expresses concern but can offer littler other than "you'll figure this out". The guidance counselor hands her a handful of condoms and shoves her out the door.
That scene was a great illustration of how I believe we have let girls down in this culture. Instead of teaching them independence and self-worth by who they are and what they can accomplish, we teach them their self-worth depends on their "purity" or we hand out birth control so they can continue to seek approval by using their sexuality. The purity and the birth control people are handing young girls the same message - "Your value is in your sexuality --either save it as the only precious gift you can offer your husband or give it away but just make sure you don't get pregnant or an STD"
Even her parents, who are cool and supportive have nothing to offer her. When Olive finally finds herself over head and confides in her mother, her mother simply says "You are smarter than me, you'll figure your way out of this"
So Olive is left alone to figure this stuff all by herself. Is this how teenagers feel in our world? That adults are totally useless to them? Have we so abandoned our young people?
Oh and don't get me started about how the church lets her down. From the snotty judgmental Marianne to a Bible that confuses her more than helps her, to two churches, there is no help for her from the church. We can whine and moan about how Christianity is portrayed in the media or we can ask "why do people have the perception the church cannot help this girl?" What help have we offered young people trying to find their way through this culture of sexual exploitation?
I think this would be a good movie to take youth groups to --or rent when it comes out later -there is potential for some really good discussion.