Random Factoid #376

8 08 2010

Yesterday I talked about what makes me happy, but today you get what makes me mad.  I saw “Inception” again yesterday – that makes three, for those of you keeping score at home.

I happened to catch wind of an article this week from The New York Magazine (some of you might remember David Edelstein’s scathing review that was the first among the backlashing critics) that bashed Ellen Page’s character in “Inception.” Here’s Emma Rosenblum talking about what she calls the “asexual chic.”

Poor Ellen Page. While most everyone else in “Inception” looks ripped out of a fashion-magazine spread, she has to traipse around in Christopher Nolan’s version of graduate-student chic — ill-fitting corduroys, ratty jackets, and scuffed, oddly pointy motorcycle boots. When Page first shows up as a brilliant architecture student, dressed in baggy pants and, strangely, a neckerchief, she looks not only childish, but of a different movie altogether than Leonardo DiCaprio, who slinks through “Inception” in GQ-worthy custom three-piece suits.

… According to our very informal survey of grad students (er, our friends), neckerchiefs are not currently a staple of the PhD crowd, and yet she dons one in every single scene. She looks like a cross between a boy scout and the Swedish Chef. Perhaps this is just another Nolan subconscious trick — Page’s character is stuck dreaming about her youth spent as a boy sailor? Regardless, there are better ways to signify that Page is smart and not the female character whom DiCaprio wants to sleep with than sticking her in unattractive, earth-tone duds. Like, say, giving her a pair of glasses.

While I respect differing opinions, I have to say that baseless arguments like these make me mad.  She ignorantly reinforces the very gender stereotypes that she appears to deplore in the final sentence.  By saying that she’s asexual unless she dresses well, isn’t that saying that if she spiffed up, she would be sexual and thus an object of lust for Cobb?  Not to mention that in the process, she also implies that anyone with glasses is doomed to never have a guy look at her.

Page’s Ariadne is not supposed to fit in with Cobb’s team.  She’s new to the art of shared dreaming, and she’s added to the dream team that enters Fischer’s mind at the last minute.  Excuse her if in the real world she hasn’t had the time to buff up her wardrobe.  She stands out among them as a novice because of her actions; the clothes just complement what we observe about her.  If she dressed too nicely, that might read as her having a sense of confidence which isn’t present.

And she’s a college student, for goodness sake!  How many elegantly dressed college students could you round up on a campus nowadays?  It would send up a bigger red flag if she was dressed really nicely.  The “very informal survey” may not have found some of her accessories commonplace, but far less common would be your designer outfits and formalwear.

Since Rosenblum brought up the point, yes, her clothes aren’t meant to make her look like an object of lust to Cobb.  Yet she misses the more important point: Ariadne isn’t supposed to be an object of lust to US, the audience.  If we are fawning over how good Ellen Page looks, it would undoubtedly distract us from the movie’s labyrinthian plot.  The costume designer knows best how to use clothing to send a message to us, and they sent the right one with Ariadne.  If Rosenblum can’t handle that, there are plenty of Hollywood movies with models acting that should be “beautiful” enough for her.


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6 responses

8 08 2010
Jennifer

Write ups like this make me furious. It’s as if they have to find something wrong with the movie. Ellen Page looked like a graduate student for crying out loud and I saw nothing wrong with her dress. Also, an “informal survey”?? I can’t believe that was even published. It’s embarrassing.

8 08 2010
Jennifer

I’ve enjoyed reading the comments on this article as well, it seems as if most commenter’s don’t agree with the author either.

8 08 2010
Fitz

What a despicable article. How many graduate students have the time to assemble a “Rosenbaum-approved” clothing collection. I think New York Magazine should just shut the hell up about Inception if they’re going to be assholes about it.

8 08 2010
Simon/Ripley

I read this awhile ago, it pisses me off. What does it matter what she’s wearing? And nekerchiefs, what, so every grad student dresses exactly the same?

8 08 2010
Red

That’s just plain dumb.

9 08 2010
rtm

Huh??!? I’m no fashion maven but I actually like her earth-tone outfits, in fact I like the vest look she’s wearing in that pic with Leo. So I guess that makes me asexual as I prefer Ariadne’s more ‘tomboy-ish’ look than Mal’s sultry look. It’s embarrassing that a woman writer says things like this, shame on you NY mag!

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