– Elle Woods
Legally Blonde is, in this author’s estimation, one of the greatest pieces of late-twentieth century commercial US art.
To be clear, this is a group of films that includes say, Blade Runner, Dazed and Confused (in the way that Dazed and Confused is now a document of the birth of a generation’s narcissism), Apocalypse Now (because the Vietnam war, too, did not happen), and The Matrix.
Elle chooses her future, and lives it. Set aside for a second the central (and certainly initial) motivation for this being the pursuit of some preppy dude (pretty much the opposite of Organic). She sets herself a deceptively simple goal of getting into Harvard. She then marshals reality to achieve this goal, all her pink resources and professional camera crews combine to produce her televisual ‘letter of application’. And there Elle is, bikini shiny, imploring he on the other side of the screen to please oh please, let her live a productive, whole, successful life. And they do. And she does. Consider this.
To a generation of women screened terribly as applicants for some beauty pageant that never happens, forcibly coiffed and ready to dance, Elle is a conceivable way out. They can relate. They know they’ve been screened, and increasingly they don’t give a fuck.
She believes the world’s more dangerous games to be played out by those staffing the ‘top secret Versace think-tank’. She is, of course, not wrong. Those clothed in dead things’ fur, their pockets lined too, pulling on strings we’re all too poor to see, biding no time at all for it is theirs to own anyway. She is in this way wise, a lady tuned to signals rarely given.
This film offers us a tale of redemptive credibility. Elle, clad again in something somehow both stark and flourescent, is told by a US Senator: ‘You can’t get people to care’. Utterly unfazed, she replies, ‘Watch me’. She is brazen, bold, burning to lead the torchless in a lonely-lit trip through a dark night.
She starts the film as another stereotypic bubblegum-popping teen intent on every future, and the one she chooses, adapts to her self, would no doubt require hard work, diligence, and above all, restraint. This is the thing alien to and lacking in all accompanying pop-cult culture of the time. She furrows her brow and gets down to business, and cares little for the views of others but is full of empathy (without overempathising to the point of paralysis). And so, future chosen, standing in front of a holder of major political office (whatever that means), she has not the affront but rather the confidence to state that she’ll single-handedly wake a generation from their slumber.
Note that the prefigurate to her success was obsession.
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