I cant watch movies anymore. It's happened. I hate Chef and I should have liked it.

August 26th, 2014, 9pm

It was 18.3°C. There was moderate breeze.

For years I’ve been afraid that one day I would become that person no one wants to watch movies with. And I think, finally, that day has come because I hate Chef which is not the kind of movie people normally go around hating. It’s family friendly, light hearted, simple and full of delicious food. And yet, here’s the thing: if you were to flip the genders of everyone in the movie no one would find it in the least bit believable and that… that is the problem.

Imagine for a moment a movie about a fat, unattractive, slightly narcissistic woman in her late forties who is the head chef in a restaurant whose staff consists entirely of other women. Not only is she dating the gorgeous restaurant host who is 20 years her junior, her ex husband is a latin sex bomb who is, inexplicably, the nicest person you’ll ever meet. The chef also, fortunately for her, has a daughter who is so neglected that any time the chef pays attention to her she rises to the occasion. Eventually, this results in the daughter, the chef and one of the chef’s attentive and loyal staff taking a cross country road trip together in a food truck. The daughter works tirelessly in the food truck without complaint even though her mother sets very high standards for a ten year old. The movie ends predictably (I’m not ruining anything here) with the chef getting a new restaurant and remarrying her ex-husband whom she has done nothing to directly romance but who, for reasons we’ll never understand, seems to still care for the chef. Also, as an extra bonus, for the chef, while she was off enjoying her 20 something boy toy her ex husband was being a good boy and, it’s insinuated, not banging anyone.

I’m going to go ahead and bet that a movie like that wouldn’t get made for a myriad of reasons and yet.. that’s it. That’s Chef in a nutshell.

The truth is I want to see movies where the lead is a female and is not conventionally beautiful. I want the movie to be filled with women who are not “attractive” but who are very interesting. I want a movie with a mostly female cast to be a movie about people instead of being written off as being about “women”. But this never happens. Women are love interests and often (unless it’s a “chick flick”) are never even directly wooed. They come along as part of the package. The hero does something else. He pays attention to his kid, finds himself and then.. boom… just like that there’s the gravy on the side: a beautiful, wonderful woman. I mean, really? Seriously? Doesn’t that send a pretty warped message to both women and men? Men become expectant and women expect to be relegated to the sidelines, because they aren’t the main character and this isn’t even their story.

I’m just sick of it. Sick of it to the point where a feel good family movie that reinforces these ridiculous, dumb and damaging ideas about who women are in the lives of men cannot be redeemed by excellent food cinematography and an otherwise entertaining if predictable plot.

(Not that I really like chick flicks either mind you. Though I DO find it interesting that the defining feature of a chick flick appears to be that it involves a woman being actively wooed. Never mind that it’s disturbing that most chick flicks don’t seem to be about much else (and they damn well should be) … isn’t it an intriguing notion: for men the ideal storyline involves going around and doing things and then having a woman magically show up whereas for women the ideal storyline involves being paid attention to. That we often grow up, us men and women, confused when our expectations don’t mesh with reality is perhaps no surprise given the weird narratives we’re fed about how our significant others are supposed to arrive and then contribute to our lives).

Max, David Wade, Vivien, Roselle and 1 more said thanks.

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Dani Z

The hardest thing about getting older is realizing that I might, in fact, be a minor character in someone else's story. (I keep changing this bio. I'm not sure I'll ever nail it)

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