Uncool Girl vs. Ice Queen Bitch. Uncool girl and the Hot Jock. Eventual underdog success on the battlefield that is high school.
We’ve all seen this movie a million times.
You’d think by 2015, we’d be done with this type of “cinematic gold,” but unfortunately, we are not. “The Duff,” based on the novel by Kody Keplinger, comes out Friday, February 20.
“The Duff” stars the way-too-wonderful-for-this-movie Mae Whitman as lead Bianca, a teenage girl who just found out that she is the short end of the stick in the looks department of her group of friends. As her hot jock ex-best friend Wesley (Robbie Amell) kindly points out to her, she’s a “DUFF,” a shorthand for a Designated Ugly Fat Friend. Thus starts her quest to break out of this label and show up the school’s resident mean girl (Bella Thorne), by having hot jock break her of her DUFF ways.
While this plot seems like something that came out of 2005, it’s not. This “She’s All That” wannabe is holding on to the same message that Hollywood high school films have held on to for years: that young girls are clearly not good enough the way they are. We’ve all known for years that Hollywood beauty standards are absolutely ridiculous; that’s nothing new. But the fact that we are continuing it with these movies, geared toward a young audience, is insane.
Whitman is absolutely beautiful. Yet it isn’t shocking to see her in this role. She’s not blonde, she’s not tall or stick thin, and she doesn’t have an enormous rack. Why would we consider her to be anything but average in a high school movie? When Hollywood takes a beautiful girl like that, and is putting it out there that she isn’t good enough to pass for anything but average, they have no idea what they’re doing to self-esteems all across the nation. What about the rest of us? What are we? Clearly, we’re probably somebody’s DUFF.
While the movie is advertised to have a theme of Whitman’s character standing up for herself against this label, it doesn’t seem clear if that message of body positivity is going to be strong enough to counteract the major issues that this film already has in motion.
Whether or not the film is actually funny like it’s supposed to be, its success so far looks unlikely. However, nobody should ever think a label such as a DUFF is ever acceptable, especially the millions of young girls who will most likely buy tickets to see this movie.