Just when I thought the New Year would bring in new movies with better premises, The Duff trailer is released. Based on a recent popular Young Adult novel, it re-hashes and adds on to the already long list of a young girl’s insecurities.
The Duff is about a girl named Bianca who much to her horror (and ours) comes to realize that she is in fact the Designated Ugly Fat Friend, or in other words, a “Duff”. She learns that every clique apparently has to have one and that these “Duffs” are the ones who allow the hottie’s hotness to stand out more and make the beautiful people even more beautiful. Yay for yet another teen movie preying on young girls’ insecurities, right?
Of course, as the trailer shows, the only reason Bianca, (played by Mae Whitman who may I add is NOT fat nor ugly), discovers this ‘truth’ about what she is, is only because the school’s hot jock points it out at a party. Prior to this she had been oblivious and living her carefree life, perhaps being her weirdo self but not giving a damn about any labels. But as soon as this jock brings it up, it becomes an issue. Personally, by the part this douche came to her and called her a “duff”, I was hoping the movie could end with her telling him to f*ck off and carry on with her life, but the fact that the protagonist gives more importance to what he thinks of her than what she thinks of herself is truly infuriating.
Moving on, not only does she believe him, but offers him homework help in exchange for his help to “fix her”, again placing importance on someone’s appearance other than who they are as a person and yet again, implementing the idea of how an “ugly” girl can actually become beautiful if only she can find a hot guy to remove her glasses. Sigh…yet another tiresome genre of high school-make-over rom-com. I assume that by the end of the movie he will come to realize that she is actually a normal human being (just like every other movie). But what’s really outraging, is how the protagonist will most likely go back to thinking she’s fine again, only because HE said so. And not only does this “fixing” involve some sort of shallow makeover, but her then falling for him despite the fact that he made her feel terribly insecure.
We all know that beauty standards are terribly skewed, but the idea that someone as tiny as Mae Whitman would be called fat is actually horrifying, especially in a movie where there will be young girls watching and thinking, “If she’s considered fat, then what does that make me?”
What’s really bothersome about this whole movie plot is that it’s tagline, “You either know one, you have one, or you are one”, encourages young girls to compare themselves to their friends and either reassure themselves that they aren’t the Duff because their friends are uglier and fatter than them, or to feel relatively horrible about themselves because they are in fact, fatter and uglier than their friends. All this does is introduce yet more competition between females and self-loathing into teenage friend groups- as if these teenage girls needed more insecurities to worry about!
Maybe there has been a theory that every girl has that one ugly friend just so they will always look better than them and stand out among their less attractive friends. Maybe girls love attention so much and in order to be labeled as “the best looking one”, they need to surround themselves with lesser attractive females. Or maybe, this is all a load of crap and to even have the term “DUFF” be a thing is stupidity at its finest and this movie provides yet another label for young girls to apply either to themselves or to ponder about which one of their friends fits into the label.
So although this might look like just a fun movie, it not only rehashes the same old sexist message of a girl not ever being good enough unless a guy gives her that approval, but also projects onto its audience how every group of friends has a fatter, less-attractive one. Great stuff, just great.
Personally to me, this movie falls into the “super-cliched-that-it’s-just-too-stupid-to-watch” genre. But then again, that’s just Vee’s view.
For those that are interested though, The Duff will be released in theatres February 20, 2015.