Despite having two girls at its centre, The Devil Wears Prada ended up reaffirming and perpetuating dangerous gender stereotypes for probably the most part.
In our column, Through Her Looking Glass, we attempt to decode iconic movies from a feminine perspective. The sequence will try to know the company every feminine character holds within the movie’s narrative (principally, from a up to date standpoint) and whether or not the purported that means of the movie alters below such a viewing.
Why The Devil Wears Prada?
Growing up, The Devil Wears Prada was one in every of my absolute favorite movies that I went back to, repeatedly, at any time when I felt down or grumpy. It had two girls at its centre, navigating life and career, whereas exuding oodles of sass and glamour of excessive style. With Chanel boots, Calvin Klein baggage and Shu Uemura eyelash curlers, The Devil Wears Prada made a case for the vicarious consumption of costly finery that almost all third-world nation residents just get to witness from behind frosty glass home windows.
There was one factor although, that all the time caught out to me as odd. Why did Andrea Sachs return to her boyfriend in the long run?
Years later, as I sat right down to rewatch the movie, I realised there have been plenty of red alerts that my prepubescent romantic self deftly disregarded in a determined try and really feel content for our heroine’s happily-ever-after. Now that the rose-tinted glasses have come off (or so I hope), I’m embarking on a journey to look at whether or not this cult basic is certainly the shining beacon of feminism that it’s alleged to be.
The Devil Wears Prada, primarily based on Lauren Weisberger’s 2003 novel of the identical name, had all of the components for the making of a business hit. It solid Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway, two of the Hollywood’s most bankable stars of the last decade, and positioned them on the coronary heart of all of the New York-y razzmatazz.
Understandably, the movie grossed over $300 million globally and was the 12th highest-grossing movie worldwide in 2006. Critics lauded its “witty expose of New York’s style scene” (“I’m just one stomach flu away from my goal weight”) and conversely, its intelligent vindication of this kingdom of couture that determines the alternatives and aspirations of ladies everywhere in the world. In what’s thought to be the most effective monologues within the movie, protagonist Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) remarks how the “wretched Cerulean blue sweater” her reluctant underling Andrea Sachs (Anne Hathaway) purchased at some “tragic Casual Corner” was a results of the trickle-down impact, that started at one of many Runway places of work.
The movie follows a naive Northwestern University graduate, Andrea ‘Andy’ Sachs, who lands a job on the prestigious Runway journal, because the second individual assistant to editor-in-chief Miranda Priestly. The remainder of the movie recounts Andy’s one-year servitude to the job 1,000,000 ladies would “kill for.”
Despite its shiny packaging, The Devil Wears Prada will not be with out its share of points.
Priestly has come to indicate the archetypal anti-heroine who’s unapologetically condescending, thoughtless, hails skin-deep magnificence (“I informed myself, take an opportunity, rent the sensible, fats lady”), abuses her authority to illtreat staff, and makes use of the loyalty of trusted aides for her personal advantage.
Why Miranda by no means turns into a full-blown antagonist, then, is due to the actor behind the position. Streep imbues Miranda with such authenticity that even when her defenses crumble aside, and she or he breaks down, it doesn’t appear uncharacteristic of her. She is devastated when her husband recordsdata for divorce. “Another divorce splashed throughout Page Six. I can simply think about what they’ll write about me. The Dragon Lady. Career-obsessed. Snow Queen drives away one other Mr Priestly.”
But what impacts her greater than herself changing into a topic of hypothesis is how her daughters would understand “one other father. Figure. Gone.”
Such moments of tenderness in the direction of her kids, when she pulls all stops to attend their recital, or when she makes Andy procure a replica of the unpublished Harry Potter manuscript, are far and few in no., however they present an perception into Miranda past her steely exterior. She’s as a lot a protecting mom as one who’d make peanut butter sandwiches for her kid’s soccer game, however The Devil Wears Prada chooses to highlight her bold and medical nature. What reigns it in is Streep’s insistence on portraying Miranda’s defenselessness, making her further human.
To deepen the chasm between the private life and career of a lady, each Andy and Miranda are proven having hassle reconciling the 2 all through the movie. Miranda is perpetually deemed to be the “not good spouse” for prioritising her workplace conferences over her time along with her husband.
It is thru her that director David Frankel establishes the conundrum that girls with burgeoning careers usually face — to display or to not display vulnerability. In response to the query of why Meryl Streep selected to grow to be concerned within the movie that might doubtlessly finish up perpetuating dangerous stereotypes, the actress had responded, “I needed to know why we vilify girls in highly effective positions, I needed to know the pressures on such a lady.” In order for girls to ascertain their company in roles historically occupied by males, they wanted to unsex themselves like Lady Macbeth. Hence, Miranda guards her individual life and her failing marriage like a hawk, lest she be deemed a creature of sentiment, unfit for her place.
However, by making Miranda a product of socially dictated gender roles, the titular “satan” in The Devil Wears Prada finally ends up reaffirming stereotypes.
On further hand, Andy and her boyfriend Nate (Adrian Grenier), are in a cushty place of their relationship at first of the movie, however as her work turns into further demanding, Nate turns into more and more scornful of her occupation. He scoffs at Andy for not quitting her job when shit hits the fan and will get upset along with her when she misses his birthday for knowledgeable dedication. But Nate isn’t just an insecure boyfriend, he’s judgemental, poisonous, and repulsive too.
When Andy excitedly tells her buddies she has scored a job at a style journal, Nate incredulously utters, “What was it, a cellphone interview?”. He appears to be like down upon girls who need fancy purses, as a result of he’s unable to gauge why “girls want so many baggage anyway.” He even gaslights her into believing that it’s Andy who’s straying from her “nice-girl” values and promoting her soul, and his anger is only a byproduct of his concern for her.
“I wouldn’t care if you were out there pole-dancing all night, as long as you did it with a little integrity,” he says, however he additionally goes on so as to add that Andy is changing into further like “these Runway ladies she used to make enjoyable of.” Although ultimately, Andy quits her Runway job to pursue her journalistic ardour, the film’s denouement of reconciling Andy with Nate dilutes his obnoxiousness and drives the purpose residence that Nate was right all alongside.
Further, for a movie led by girls, The Devil Wears Prada woefully fails at depicting sisterhood. Even although the movie derives a lot of its wry humour by means of exchanges between Miranda’s different minion, Emily Charlton (Emily Blunt), and Andy, it additionally performs on the basic women-against-women trope and establishes that Andy has no feminine allies at work.
Emily is hostile in the direction of her, dismissive of her sartorial decisions, and shuts her down when she tries to open up about her office agony. The just one who is invested in her, with out an agenda of his personal, is Nigel (Stanley Tucci). On Nigel’s recommendation, Andy makes a real effort to embrace the world she is in and actually clothes the part, which ultimately leads Miranda to take discover of Andy’s unrelenting efforts to impress her.
Its warped feminism and a fair proportion of missteps however, The Devil Wears Prada was a trailblazer in its personal right. Unlike Mean Girls two years before, The Devil Wears Prada handed the Bechdel check and uncovered internalised misogyny, societal and gender expectations of the wonder business, even when it didn’t confront it head-on.
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