Like most new movies, I was not expecting much from Sydney White (alternative title: Sydney White and the Seven Dorks), but my sister made me watch it.
And it was, let’s face it, amusing. Maybe a little more than amusing.
For one thing, a girl who can install a water filtration system in less than an hour and expects her going away to college present to be a hammer she’s been wanting–being raised by a single dad who happens to be a plumber can lead to such interests–is pretty much awesome. In addition to her interests in fixing what needs to be fixed, she can also throw a football to make an actual football player jealous. What’s not to love about Sydney White?
On the surface-it’s a brilliant movie. The references to the classic fairy tale are priceless. Rachel Witchburn, the sorority president for Kappa Phi Nu (the infamous all blonde Kappas) takes the place of the evil stepmother in her quest to be the hottest (an online rating for the attractiveness of SAU students–the Hot or Not list), the seven dorks living in the non greek house The Vortex takes the place of the seven dwarves (and yes, all dwarves are represented, but some are more easily spotted than others. Lenny, due to his unfortunate alergies, is obviously Sneezy. Embele, the Nigerian transfer student who is still jet lagged despite having been in the US for about three years, is obviously Sleepy. And if you couldn’t tell that George was supposed to be Dopey…well, I don’t know what to tell you. Samm Levine’s character, Spanky, wasn’t an obvious Happy. but maybe that’s just me. Oh–and Yes, that IS SAMM LEVINE from FREAKS AND GEEKS…and he plays the same type of character!) There is a poisoned apple (watch and see) and yes it does result in putting Sydney White to sleep and yes her boy wakes her up with a kiss, but it’s refreshing to see him not just wake her up to take her away, but to exhault in her and say that people are waiting for HER to save the day.
So where’s the problem?
It’s a tiny one.
Oh so tiny. Like everything else produced in Hollywood, Sydney White is an example of a “this is close but not quite” what I want to see.
The biggest issue I had with Sydney White was when Sydney was running for student president and she was making major efforts to reach out to the various campus groups-the football team, the ROTC members, the Jewish kids and the GLBTIQ campus group. Yay, right?
Not so much. All the groups except for the queer campus group was in full representation. The ROTC members doing their militant routines, the Jewish kids socializing and having fun, and the queer group? Well, it was a pathetic showing. It was like, “Hey, look we have a group of gay kids but it’s small. they really ARE the minority.” Not to mention the main student the group focused in on was a student who looked like he was in very bad drag and read poetry that in the two seconds that he read-asks to be mocked. (And in the credits on imdb he’s Danny the Tranny. Might add a tiny bit more depth to the character, but the name itself is almost annoying….) And he was reading his poetry to a group that included mostly Sydney and her group of friends and a tiny amount of other students.
first of all, if you’re on a campus and there’s a group for gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender/intersex/questioning there’s going to be a need for it. Which means there’s gonna be a lot more than, say, 5 students in the group. I’ve been a campus leader so I know there are off years for plenty of groups, but if the campus group in the movie was willing to reserve a big room for their poetry night, they would have marketed to their audience (and beyond) and would have done A LOT better in filling that room than that movie represented.
It’s almost as if the movie execs behind Sydney White were saying, hey, ROTC is cool, Jews are cool, athletes are cool, but really, the gay people don’t really exist except in a tiny number. Hmm. If that idea’s true…where are these funny ideas about same sex marriage coming from? And these funny ideas on protecting you from being bullied based on sexual orientation? Are those really coming from one or two people.
I. Don’t. Think. So.
May I recommend you watch Before Stonewall and After Stonewall if you think the GLBTIQ population is that small.
And another thing that bugged me about Sydney White…Well, it was definitely a WHITE movie. The only non-white (and non-blonde, for that matter) is one of the seven dorks, Embele. And let me get this out: He’s my favorite of the seven dorks. Seriously. He was snoozing in a Poli-Sci class and the professor asks him a question thinking he wouldn’t answer it, and he answered it straight up. and then went back to sleep. He’s gotta be the smartest of the 7. But again, he spends a good amount of the movie asleep…he gets nowhere near the amount of screentime that Gurkin, Spanky, George or Terrence gets. He’s just there. Token black guy? More than likely. Wouldn’t it be nice if movie execs realized that we’re in 2008 and there’s a lot more diversity?
Oh. and as to the elusive black woman…? She definitely didn’t exist in Sydney White. Apparently Sydney White and her cohorts didn’t have to reach out to a group like UNC’s Black Student Movement.
So yay for Snow White finding white feminism! Now she just needs to go further and find that feminism isn’t (or shouldn’t be) just about white women.