I have to admit, I’m a little apprehensive about the movie Long Shot. Don’t get me wrong. I have very high hopes for it. Based solely on the two trailers I’ve seen, it looks like it could be an enjoyable watch. (Please note that what follows is a discussion on a particular type of movie, which Long Shot may or may not be. I haven’t actually seen it yet. The movie’s trailer only sparked this discussion in me.)
Depending on how the actual movie plays out, it could be another in a long line of “unattractive”* guy meets “hot” woman and somehow woos/seduces/date rapes her movies (I’m thinking of Sixteen Candles and Hitch right now, but there are plenty of others). Who cares? What’s so bad about that? It’s cute and endearing and shows the power of love, right?
Wrong. These types of stories play right into the hand of incels (see the video below if you don’t know what they are), who are convinced that beautiful women won’t sleep with them because they’re prejudiced toward people with a certain bone structure and that if they’d just give the “ugly” guys a chance, they’d see how cool and funny and loving they really are. Newsflash: There are plenty of women who will sleep with “ugly” guys. I’m one of them.**
This whole idea of pretty vs. ugly, classy vs. goofy, rich vs. poor, etc. is not a new one. Cinderella and similar stories have been around for millenia (don’t even get me started on the gender-flipped version of this story; that’s a whole other blog post). I’m not saying that people in different social groups or statuses shouldn’t date, marry, or be friends.
Nor am I saying “beautiful” women shouldn’t fall in love with “ugly” men. Love is love, and their stories need to be told, too.
What I am saying is that we need to be careful when we tell these stories that we tell them like any other love story. The audience needs to see how normal and natural it is for the couple to fall in love because of their compatibility, even if the other characters in the story don’t see it at first. Think Romeo & Juliet (okay, problematic example) or Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.
The man’s attitude toward the relationship is everything in these stories. If the “ugly” man automatically appears to be thinking, “Yes, this is right. Finally I’m getting what I deserve,” it feeds incels’ feelings of entitlement. But if he’s thinking, “Wow, I’m lucky to have found the love of my life,” everyone can be happy for him.
Essentially, we don’t want storytellers to tell us, “Isn’t it a funny miracle these two got together? I mean, look at them! Isn’t it funny? Aren’t they an odd couple?” We want them to say, “Love can be hard. Sometimes you have to work at it, especially when outside forces want to tear you apart. It’s worth it, though. Fight for love.”
I’m looking forward to seeing Long Shot, despite its potential to be problematic.*** As a writer, I’m always interested in stories about writers, and it looks like the filmmakers tried very hard to be feminist in their portrayal of both main characters. Only a viewing will tell if they succeeded.
*I put words like “ugly” and “beautiful” in quotes because beauty is subjective. Everyone is both beautiful and ugly in their own ways. I’m talking about traditional beauty standards here.
**To be fair, I have poor facial recognition, and all the “pretty” guys look the same to me.
***And its similarity in title to The Long Shot, which my sister watched on DVD at least 10,000 times as a kid.