Sunday, January 18, 2009

Where are the women, Wes?

by Lauren Rother

It isn't surprising that we often find a subculture represented mostly by men. From punk culture's male-dominated music scene, to hipters' well dressed male army, we know that women exist in these scenes. We see them at shows, in bands and running publications. But we don't seem to talk about them. Hipster movies frequently center on the coming-of-age story of a fashionable young man dealing with the demons of a dysfunctional family; think Royal Tenenbaums, Igby Goes Down, I Heart Huckabees, anything Wes Anderson has done, actually.

Pineapple Express stars Seth Rogen as the loveable, laid back pot head, Dale, who finds himself running around with James Franco as wacky, hippie pot-dealer, Saul. They wander through the movie, encountering constant problems throughout their hijincks. Pineapple Express does for stoner culture what all of Wes Anderson's productions do for hipster culture: shows us a fantastic stoner world, where the underdog stoners come out on top. But I'm left wondering, where are the women stoner heroes?

There are two main women in the movie: Dale's highly attractive younger girlfriend, Angie (Amber Heard), and the crooked cop, Carol (Rosie Perez). To the movie's credit, Dale acknowledges that his girlfriend is far more attractive than he is and much younger, in a way that isn't meant as bragging. This is a small step forward from the classical pairing of hot, young female with aging, non-classically attractive male. (I'm holding my breath for a major blockbuster showing a non-classically attractive female with a hot, young male.) But Angie isn't included in the stoner culture. She's referenced as someone who has smoked pot "occasionally," and then, only because her boyfriend does.

Carol is an integral part in pot-culture only insofar as she is assisting in a drug-ring. Again, it's refreshing to see, not just a woman police officer, but a woman of color as an officer. I'm torn on the issue of her being a crooked cop. Generally, filled by older white men (who are also part of the drug-ring in Pineapple Express), and the position is somewhat balanced by another woman of color in the position of righteous cop. But neither of these women are part of the subculture, either. And, of course, none of the women are the heroes. They are the side stories.

I am just curious where the women stoners are. Where is the movie that acknowledges them? Half Baked is all about stoner men. Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, Super High Me, and all of the Cheech and Chong movies… full of men.

I think the important point to note is that subcultures, seen for flouting the norms, are often more in line with them that we acknowledge, and it is important to examine these commonalities in order to, not only see the subculture more clearly, but see the "norm" more clearly as well.

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