So I am the mother of a child of the noughties. A child who, according to the Times, is likely to find herself facing the following issues due, in part, to the death of feminism. The article says, “The Noughties has left a generation of girls feeling puzzled and scared. They don’t know whether to be fat or thin, drunk or sober, clever or stupid. Why work hard to be a doctor or a lawyer when you can marry a banker or a footballer? A recent study, published in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, covering the period 1987-2006, revealed that 15-year-old girls were suffering increased psychological stress. The pressures of getting to a top university and at the same time looking like Kate Moss have led to anorexia and binge-drinking. In this weird age of bleary celebrity, positive role models are few and far between.
That role model, of course, used to be feminism. Where, in this open dishwasher of female emotion, has feminism gone? Well, feminism just… went away. Feminism was last seen in the Celebrity Big Brother household: an old, grumpy Germaine Greer swaddled up like a boiler. For this generation, feminism had become little more than hairy patches and a weird preoccupation with one’s vagina. The closest anyone comes to saying anything these days is: “I’m not a feminist, but…” “
I smile but wince at the same time. I know that to a certain extent this is true. Third Wave feminism as espoused by Naomi Woolf has passed these girls by, whilst at the same time contributing to the contradictions.
Yet throughout the decade there has been one source of advice and comfort for these girls. Teaching them how to juggle the expectations and become slightly better human beings. Whilst their primary carers may have been pre-occupied with their own depression, messy relationships and career building they have had the teen movie. During the noughties there was the full development of teenage chick flicks, which kind of took the Brat Pack movie and domesticated it for a younger audience. Having a daughter of a certain age that I would regularly watch movies with, as a way of connecting, I have seen most of these films. Here are my pick of the decade. In no particular order apart from the top two which v. much do rate as the best and second best of the decade in my view.
1) Juno (2007) – This story of a teenager who gets pregnant before they are ready is definately one of the films of the decade for any age, even though it is intended as a teenage chick flick. In many ways it is up there with Breakfast Club.
2) Legally Blonde (2001)- The story of the bimbo who blags her way into uni and then uses her knowledge of both the beauty industry and the law is in its own way the film that sums up the decade and how to handle it for young women. It also, though, sums up soooo much why they have the study hard, look good problems the article was referring to.
The other key ones in no particular order
3) Twilight and New Moon (2008) and (2009) – Amongst other things they have an interesting take on celibacy, depression and difference.
4) St. Trinians (2007) – It returned and gave a facinating insight into the range of sub-cultures to which teenage girls belonged in the noughties.
5) Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2008) – This one is fun and has a good soundtrack. Also shows facinating picture of the relationship between the teenage binge drinker and her best friend who ends up looking after her.
6) Mean Girls (2004) – Another morality play based around sub-cultures.
7) House Bunny (2008) – Difficult one morally as it promotes Playboy and Hugh Heffener but it also has a “be yourself” type storyline going on. Difficult to actually dislike, even if you find the promotion of Playboy and porn appalling.
8) Angus Thongs and Perfect Snogging (2008) – It was the British version of the teenage chickflick. Unsettling viewing for a parent; just so much nearer the truth than the US films.
9) Princess Diaries (2001) and Princess Diaries 2 (2004) – Worth seeing it for the oh so worthy side-kick character and for Julie Andrews returning to top form.
10) Wildchild (2008) – Had the mix of English realism with US fantasy in a morality tale about a girl who turns it around at boarding school. Worth seeing it just for the English kids trying to get served in the off licence and then blowing it when they ask for a Creme Egg.