After watching “The Devil Wears Prada” for the umpteenth time last night, it occurred to me there very disturbing mixed messages in this film. While I understand the film itself is meant for purely entertainment purposes, the insidiousness of the messages can harm it’s target audience, namely children and tweens.
First we see Andy desperately looking for a job. She is a young recent college graduate and barely out of the nest, so to speak. She is Fresh Faced, naive and idealistic(odd and ironic for a journalist major, don’t you think?) and dresses very “Girls School” frumpy. I’m a solid 25 years out of college and I never saw anyone dress like that even in my day.
By some quirk of fate she lands a job in the most important fashion magazine in New York, “as an assistant to the Executive Editor”. Can we say “not bloody likely”? I think you can. Andy thinks the women at the magazine are idiots for subscribing to designer couture(where did that naive idealism go?) and even comes up with a dispariging nickname, “The Clackers”.
In one swift stroke, she marginalized them into sub human, non-thinking lemmings, without even bothering to learn about them as individuals or their personal motivations. I fail to see how this example is something good or even worthy of imitation. In fact, this is the very reason we have such intolerance and racism in the world today.
As the movie progresses, you see Andy getting sucked into this “evil machine”. Her best friend pulls her aside and delivers a scathing diatribe about “how she is changed and she doesn’t know her anymore”. Oh good grief, every person on the planet grows and changes. How is it wrong to value a job or excel at a job, over a poor bohemian lifestyle? How is a poor bohemian lifestyle preferable to a high profile well paying job? The same friend is desperately trying to break into the glitterati with her art. The message they beat us to death with is compromising your ethics, but its a very bad example. People compromise their ethtics every day just to KEEP a job and KEEP food on the table. Somehow I don’t see Noble Starvation as better than positioning yourself as well paid and able to support yourself without governement funding.
And the boyfriend. Yes as Andy works dilligently at her chosen job, the boyfriend gets his digs in. “How can you work at that job if you hate it so much?” Yet we see him in a dead end job toiling away at a job he hates.
Just as an aside here, I find these to be very limiting and unhealthy relationships. GOOD friends and GOOD mates do not judge. They support. They listen. They don’t do lectures or cast the “you’ve changed” guilt trip on a friend.
The most devestating message in this film is that successful women are divorced women. The Executive Editor is going through yet another divorce. A marriage sacrificed because of her job. THis is so terribly misleading to children. We see Disney values(another ironic thing) imposed on girls and women. A woman with a job and a good job is doomed to fail at family. She is evil, self serving and less than human.
Nice Job Disney.