MovieBob - Intermission
Film This Chick Stuff! Part One: A Call for Aid

Bob "MovieBob" Chipman | 12 Nov 2010 16:00
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I don't do a lot of research for these columns (or shows, for that matter.)

I don't intend that to sound like showing off, it's just the way I prefer to work. The writing/talking doesn't really flow naturally if I'm not talking about stuff I'm readily knowledgeable of ("can't teach what you don't know," I guess). 90% of the time I'm working from material I already know and only go research-diving afterward, mostly for things like spelling, dates and fact-checking for the parts I'm iffy on (helpfully, this often leads me to "new" facts that can be added later.)

Most of the time, I think this works out for both of us. You get an honest column/show, as opposed to me trying to sound smart(er) by reciting a Wikipedia entry, I get the satisfaction of feeling like a journalistic wunderkind capable of pulling fully-formed gold directly out of my, um ... let's say "mind."

Other times, though, it can be limiting - like when I sit down to write a piece and realize, midway in, that I don't really know enough about it to speak with any authority. And it's downright frustrating when it's a topic you can't actually research because it involves elements of memory, nostalgia or personal experience - stuff you can't learn.

Case in point: It occurred to me, looking at the truly baffling amount of merchandise-driven narrative (cartoons/books/whatever originally created to sell toys) properties being snapped up for movie adaptations to feed off Generation X/Y's infinite appetite for its own nostalgia, that the field, however vast, was somewhat limited. Specifically, all the big acquisitions were from Boy Stuff.

Now, to be fair, that's more of a term of art than anything. Youth-oriented entertainment and merchandise in the late 20th Century, particularly where the two entities crossed, was a rigidly stratified place where gender was concerned, and while there were plenty of female fans who geeked out for supposedly masculine-targeted stuff like Transformers or G.I. Joe, as far as marketing was concerned, the lines were very specific. Remember the priceless "Pink Aisle" sequence in Toy Story 2? It wasn't just the broad "guns = boys, dolls = girls" archetype, either - things got into very specific Distaff Counterpart territory. My Little Pony was the girl version of Transformers, just as The Hardy Boys were the boy version of Nancy Drew. Polly Pocket? Mighty Max. Easy-Bake Oven? Creepy Crawlers. Heck, even G.I. Joe began his life as, literally, Barbie for boys.

Sure, there was no law mandating what was and was not "correct" for one gender or another, but everyone knew what was guy stuff and what was chick stuff. And it's my observation that while Hollywood's slate of upcoming films looks more and more like a 10 year-old's birthday wish-list from 1987 (or a yard sale from 1994) and the metaphorical Toy Store is being picked clean for new ideas, the aforementioned Pink Aisle has barely been touched.

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