Sunday, July 13, 2008

Legally Blonde, the Musical: The Search for the Next Elle Woods

Like the psychopathic killer in a horror film, Legally Blonde the Musical just won't die from my frame of mind. Despite (or perhaps because of) my dislike for the musical, I have been sporadically watching the reality television show on MTV. It is like a train wreck - I don't want to watch it, but due to my morbid fascination, I can't look away. Although it has some highlights (namely the forum dedicated to the show on and Seth Rudetsky's awesome video blogs deconstructing each episode), this show has called attention to some of the more irritating aspects of the show's creators, the show itself, and theatre in general:
  1. These people (the contestants, the judges, Haylie Duff) take the character of Elle Woods way too seriously. I have actually considered making a drinking game based on the show, where I would take a drink every time someone talks about how awesome Elle (the character) is or mentions the "spirit of Elle Woods." However, I quickly came to the conclusion that this would only lead to alcohol poisoning. This also begs the question: why is Elle so great?
  2. Despite the talk of the "spirit of Elle Woods" (the participants and judges invoke her name like she's a patron saint), this reality show illustrates the main reason why I got out of theatre: everyone in it loves to create behind-the-scenes drama. As a former stage manager, it gets old. Trust me.
  3. The show is very poorly constructed. As several over at the TWOP boards have mentioned, Heather Hach did a really poor job writing the show since Elle is on stage the entire time singing and running around. While the character is definitely not the most complex (the puppets in Avenue Q arguably have more meaningful emotional moments than she does), the fact that she's always doing something makes it an insane role.
  4. The songs in the musical aren't good, but they have an ear worm quality that ensures that you will never, EVER forget them if you have heard them once. Like "Memory" from Cats or anything by Frank Wildhorn, these songs will never go away (even if you try to erase them a la Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind).
  5. Is this musical seriously supposed to present a good role model for girls? Really? It is probably one of the most hypocritical shows ever, but it has been wrapped in a feel-good, quasi-sisterhood moral so some people might actually believe that it has a true moral center (it really doesn't).
You might be wondering - if I hate this musical so much, why do I spend some much time thinking about it? There are two likely reasons. One is that I tend to over-think almost everything. If I hate something, I can't just passively hate it. Instead, I will actively think of reasons why I hate it and devise ways to undermine it. The other reason is due to my dissertation topic. Since I am concerned with the portrayal of women in books popular with teenage girls, looking at pop culture isn't too far from my topic. That said, Elle better watch out - I may just completely deconstruct her once and for all...


AngySweeko said...

"If I hate something, I can't just passively hate it."

That sentence made me laugh and laugh and laugh. It's so true!