Although I’m not a Beyoncé fan, I understand the adulation she gets. She’s fierce, is building an empire, and for every ounce of boredom or irritation I feel when her music plays, she deserves at least a smidge of my respect. Pitch Perfect, however, much lauded as hilarious, groundbreaking and legen – wait for it – I just don’t understand. The first one riled me something chronic. Not only was its script clunkier than a Mark Whalberg film, its denial of the existence of Glee (Anna Kendrick said in an interview promoting PP that she’d never watched Glee and knew nothing about it. I mean sure) was just plain embarrassing. My vitriol should’ve put me off, but the way women allegedly forget what childbirth is like, I strangely wanted to see it. Here’s what I learnt from the twenty minutes I saw before I went home to eat ice cream and watch Hannibal instead.
- Rebel Wilson’s Vagina-gate
If you’ve seen the trailer, and you probably have, because they’ve promoted the shit out of it, you’ll know that Rebel Wilson’s character Fat Amy accidentally splits her leotard while performing like a member of Cirque du Soleil. She’s not wearing any underwear. The audience, which includes the Obamas, is horrified when her body twists to reveal her exposed vagina, not safely covered by underwear as every woman’s bush should be. This sparks international outrage (I get it, hilarious, right!) akin to a hate crime having been committed. It’s a lesson to all, and a sad one at that: Showing your vagina in public is the worst thing you could possibly do and it will ruin lives. You’re clearly of deplorable nature if you’ve done this, and anyone associated with you is a pervert. Furthermore, if you’re a plus-size woman, the disgust is tripled, because how dare you bare your body in front of other people. Especially your vag. What kind of sicko are you? Put it away, ladies. You might start World War Three.
- Fat Jokes Are Still, Like, Way Hilarious
Granted, Rebel Wilson uses her body for comedy, as is her right, and when it’s on her own terms that’s fine, if not for me. But what really needs to stop are blanket jokes about a person’s weight, and a character being defined by only that. Did we learn nothing from Shallow Hal, people? If Jack Black’s more enlightened than you are, please Candyman in the mirror immediately. Check yourself – you’ve wrecked yourself, basically.
- Xenophobia is Cute, y’all!
What I love in a movie is ethnic diversity being used as a comedic device. The smarts of movies like Borat and The Dictator have spoiled us with satire playing up public attitudes to cultural diversity (or lack of it). I get the impression the Pitch Perfect franchise sees its humour in this vein: upping the ante when it comes to offensive cultural stereotypes. Instead, it takes the easy option, using xenophobic attitudes to individuals as one-liners which, in a predominantly cis white cast, is cheap. Oh, how hilarious this character’s terrible background is. If only I could stop laughing at jokes about her horrific past.
- Jokes About Women Being Ugly
Again, let me refer you to Shallow Hal. Live it, learn it. Plus, aren’t we past making jokes about groups of women not being pretty enough to do certain things? Especially when said women are incredibly gorgeous actresses? It’s Hollywood keeping us in our place. Look how ugly this award-winning actress is! Now look at yourself. You might as well die. (The fact that the marketing campaign uses blow-job jokes as catchphrases doesn’t enamour me, nor does the objectification of women as brainless idiots.)
- Jokes About People With Ginger Hair
Outdated and inaccurate. Julianne Moore. Christina Hendricks. Emma Stone. Jessica Chastain. And they’re all actresses who are auburn out of choice. Give it up already.
- Talented Comedians Given The Worst Material
By no means the only film to do this, there’s nothing worse than talented comedians being shoehorned into well-worn clichéd roles. It’s a waste of the comic talents and timing of its director and star Elizabeth Banks and her partner-in-crime John Michael Higgins. A god-damn shame.
I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but Glee is a show with a similar premise to Pitch Perfect. It doesn’t get everything right by any means, but it tries its damnedest to. Inclusivity and diversity are all regularly addressed, and characters aren’t defined by their differences. Instead, their differences are discovered and celebrated. As much as it pains me to say, Glee has better jokes, thanks to Jane Lynch, and I say this through gritted teeth. The biggest difference between the two is that Glee is never intentionally hateful, whereas PP feeds off hate like a barbecued corpse.
Despite this shit, I’d totally watch an Elizabeth Banks movie again. I don’t think direction was the problem, but an awfully clichéd self-important script, and a smug movie studio with a guaranteed hit on its hands. Pitch Perfect 2 made me want to watch Glee in its entirety, and anything that makes that show look like comedy gold needs to pay. PP is a life ruiner. It ruins people’s lives. (Obligatory Mean Girls reference. Now there’s a classic movie about female empowerment if there ever was one.)