THE SCARLET LETTER for Generation Nerd.
How quaint: Emma Stone pastes a letter ‘A’ onto her A-cups.
Drawing heavily on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, EASY A brings the 17th century pariah adulteress into modern times, setting the story in an American high school, where outcast Olive (Stone) does a favor for a gay nerd at her school by pretending to have sex with him so that the jocks will stop bullying him.
The ruse works so well that nerds from near and far pay her with all manner of compensation (from movie tickets to restaurant vouchers) to have her admit she has also had sex with them to elevate their social standing.
Prostitution is such fun!
Now don’t get me wrong: prostitution is not wrong – you only think it is; the word has come to mean selling sex for money, but it also means “a person who offers their talent or work for unworthy purposes.” If you sell your services as a hitman or a telemarketer, those could be considered “unworthy purposes,” but is SEX really an “unworthy purpose”? I think not. Sex creates Life – and that’s what you’re all protesting about, right? The Right To Life. It’s the Grand Plan of the Earth, right? Life Will Uh Find A Way. Therefore, the act of sex-for-money is truly a WORTHY purpose, so should therefore not be considered prostitution at all!
You’ve been brought up hearing political leverage and religious fear proclaiming ‘prostitution is immoral’ (pertaining to sex), yet every single woman on Earth is ultimately prostituting herself to retain or progress her social status, and it’s what every man accedes to with open eyes, to win the panties of those women. And every man on Earth is prostituting himself (pertaining to job) in order to retain the social status that will keep a woman prostituting herself to him.
Are you feeling the impact of all that hypocrisy, you children of impotent gods?
The virgin peanut gallery protests that Olive wasn’t really having The Sex with anyone – but she was just as arrogant in her demands of compensation in return for her favors; after awhile, boys had to meet a minimum compensation requirement for her to pretend she was a conquest of theirs. (Imagine the high maintenance when she actually does break her virginity!) Irony slaps Olive in the face when a stud (Penn Badgley) whom she would have gladly done for free asks her on a date and she discovers he is prepared to provide big compensation for an ACTUAL lay. How outrageous!
You lost me at hypocrite.
Before I get pancakes thrown at me, I know what the movie is aiming for with the “lesson” of Olive’s hot date: Olive has been treating her “clients” like pieces of meat and when she is treated that way she realizes how demeaning it feels. It also makes her realize you can’t mix prostitution with emotions. (A lesson which every woman on Earth eventually learns, which is why a woman’s actual emotions toward a man are inversely proportionate to the amount of money he spends on her – the more you spend, the less she regards you. It’s not that she won’t gladly proffer her meaty thighs to enwrap your skull when you spend for her; it’s simply a lower emotional investment, no matter what she may whisper to you when you’re entwined in afterglow with your arm in that uncomfortable position.)
Now for more hypocrisy: Thomas Haden Church is a teacher, married to school counselor Lisa Kudrow (who still hasn’t taken any acting lessons since last we saw her in whatever pathetic role she was massacring), who is having an affair with a student (Cam Gigandet). At first, Olive takes the blame for the affair, as she is known and despised throughout the school as the Easy A (even though she is not technically committing Adultery with anyone, because a prerequisite for “adultery” is one of the partners being married), then gives up Kudrow’s despicable character to save her own skin. Screenwriter Bert V. Royal should have left it there – instead, Olive narrates, “With my words I ended a marriage, and that’s what I most regret.” But the marriage she ended was already on the rocks through actual adultery. What kind of marriage would it have been had she not revealed Kudrow’s adultery? Deceit, duplicity, lies. Just a regular old marriage.
The great Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson are Olive’s cool parents; Fred Armisen is a puritanical pastor, and Malcolm McDowell is the strict school principal – all these roles save the production from being totally lifeless.
Just when we think EASY A can’t get any more annoying, there’s an embarrassing musical dance number out of nowhere, like FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF, as ham-fisted director Will Gluck starts pulling out the homages to 80’s teen movies; Olive wants a boombox outside her window like John Cusack in SAY ANYTHING, she wants Judd Nelson’s fist up in THE BREAKFAST CLUB, she wants SIXTEEN CANDLES and a Long Duk Dong.
And the sad part is, when we hear the strains of Simple Minds’s Don’t You Forget About Me outside Olive’s window, we feel a twinge of nostalgia – for the days when even bad movies for teenies and tweenies with eeny meeny weenies were kinda bearable.
Of course, the guy holding up the speakers outside her window (a la John Cusack) is the muscly jock (Badgley), not one of the pimply fatties or nerdy geeks she helped. Which begs the question: Exactly what demographic is EASY A aiming at? The dorks end up looking like dorks and the hotties end up coupled, exactly like every other teen movie ever produced in Hollywood. Was there any lesson to be learned? Oh yeah, don’t commit ACTUAL adultery, like Lisa Kudrow, or you’ll end up alone – which is patent horseshit anyway.
Olive narrates that the one thing THE SCARLET LETTER (the 1926 movie, directed by Victor Sjöström) never told you was “how shitty it was being an outcast.” Is she kidding? I think she’s confusing that movie (where the unwed mother was ostracized by her community and vilified) with her own execrable movie called EASY A, which portrays her red-headed outcast as the hottest, slimmest, most popular girl in school who scores the hottest guy. Oh, the pain of being a teen prostitute!