From Integrated Questions

What makes a ‘chick flick’ a ‘chick flick’?

I originally set up this blog because I wanted to tackle serious questions in a serious fashion. Since then I’ve discussed iceberg lettuce, shamelessly plugged my other blogs, and talked a lot about what I’m going to talk about.

So, it hardly seems out of character to devote a post to the ubiquitous chick flick.

I started thinking about this question when I saw the Chick flicks post over at Club Troppo.

As with any categorisation of a movie, book, or play, no description will do justice. The lines between genres are blurry at the best of time and a genre such as ‘chick flick’ is blurrier than most.
One of the commenters at Club Troppo (NPOV) suggests the wikipedia’s definition is reasonable. The definition is “a film designed to appeal to a female target audience”.
I think this is a woeful definition that produces significant false positives and false negatives.
By this definition it is likely that Top Gun would be counted as a chick flick, though I doubt many would bill it as such.
In fact the entire wikipedia (which is notably marked as requiring additional citations for verification) seems to miss the point.

I would argue that a much better definition for a chick flick is “a movie that appeals predominantly to female and makes use of a traditionally feminine focus (or foci) such as romance, fashion, exploration of human relationships, and does not make use of a traditionally masculine focus (or foci) such as violence, high-speed chases (or other over-the-top elements of action movies), or sex and an emphasis on dialogue over visuals.”
Note that the emphasis should be on the traditional femininity or masculinity of the focus subjects of the film rather than on the specific examples I provided. An exploration of human relationships can be undertaken from a masculine focus, it’s just not done as commonly.

I would also like to stress that “chick-flick” and “romantic comedy” are not synonyms as several sites I visited have implied1. Whilst many romantic comedies are chick flicks, not all are (though I must admit I struggle to think of a significant counter-example). Easier to demonstrate is that not all chick flicks are romantic comedies – Life as a House is a notable example. This is not to say that there isn’t a substantial amount of overlap between chick flicks and romantic comedies, clearly there is.

I would also like to stress the already-emphasised ands that appear in my definition. Whilst I believe that each is individually a necessary condition for a film to be considered a chick flick, none are sufficient conditions in and of themselves.

On a side note, many of my favourite movies are generally considered chick flicks. I think it has something to do with the writing tending to be better in romantic comedies than action movies. That said, the half of my movie collection that isn’t chick flicks are war movies.

1 – I should note that these sites were not discussing what a chick flick is, but rather were discussing particular movies or sets of movies. Many were simply lists of favourite or recommended movies that were headed “romantic comedies aka chick flicks”.

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