REMEMBER THE Fridays when you came back home with a group of friends, gathered around a DVD player, and munched on a bowl of snacks? What were you watching? Were you a fan of mysteries? Science documentaries? Or were you also one of the chick flick addicts?
Chick flicks usually refer to romantic comedy films about love between a guy and a girl. The term initially was used to describe erotic movies, but now the Oxford Dictionary defines it as “movies that appeal to young women.” Gary Martin, the author of The Phrase Finder explains that chick flicks’ specific appeal to women only started in the 1990s when more main female characters appeared on the screen. Naturally, this led to an increase in the number of female audience as well.
Chick flicks were and still are popular among many girls (and, probably, boys too!). The characters are relatable and the exciting storyline works as a substitute to the complex and hard reality of the young audiences. Similarly, the ‘high teen’ genre is Korea’s version of chick flicks. ‘High teen’, meaning those between the age of 17-19, is also mainly about teenage love. Then, what are some of the legendary chick flicks/high teen films and how do they differ?
Goong (Princess Hours) (2006)
Goong was probably the earliest, and even most memorable, high teen Korean drama among many Koreans in their twenties. A love story between a ‘prince’ and a common girl, Goong was made into 24 episodes – each an hour long. For over two months, this super intriguing drama had Korean teenagers waiting and daydreaming about a modernized monarchy of Korea. From the typical makeover into a princess to the Cinderella spin-off scene where the prince slipped on a lost heel on to the girl’s foot, Goong fulfilled the romantic imaginations of young women who fantasize about meeting their own rich and handsome prince. To this day, Goong has you working the same “what if” questions in which you drowned yourself while imagining a ‘prince charming’ in 2006.
Mean girls (2009)
A classic high school drama. From the high school cliques to love and serious girl drama, Mean girls is a perfect example of a chick flick. All the girls in the Plastics, the high school’s most popular clique, are beautiful and flawless from the outside. New girl Cady (Lindsay Lohan) is miraculously invited to join the group only to find out the dark and deepest secrets of the seemingly perfect girls. Mean girls portrays that peer pressure and cliques can have crumbling effect on high school students. The film reassured the growing teenage girls that they are not alone in feeling self-conscious and confused. For mature audience, it brings back the memories of their teenage years when they felt insecure all the time.
Kkot bo da Nam ja (Boys Over Flowers) (2009)
Again, a classic. With the cliché ‘rich boy falling in love with a poor girl’ storyline, Kkot bo da Nam ja is probably the first thing that comes into mind when many hear ‘high teen’ drama. Consisting of 25 episodes, Kkot bo da Nam ja became a craze that swept through the Korean population. Similar to Mean girls, it is also set in a high school and deals with the issue of love, friendship, wealth and popularity. Enjoy the overly dramatic and overly emotional drama that once had you yelping in excitement! Ah, the nostalgia for the pure souls- the easily influenced and absorbed we once used to be.
Pitch perfect (2012)
Relatively new, Pitch perfect is about a college female acapella group- The Barden Bellas. From the female protagonists to the target audience, Pitch perfect seems like an average chick flick. The film was a great success and a sequel to the movie was made as well. However, the core of the storyline suggests some changes to the traditional definition of ‘chick flick.’ The film portrays the acapella girls’ love for singing and their endeavor to win the competition. Yes, there are some romantic scenes but no, men are not at the center of attention. Pitch perfect concentrates on the girlhood and their journey to success. Unlike the past chick flicks, it conveys a message that boys are not always at a girl’s core interest. Commitment and friends can also take you a long way.
While chick flicks and high teen dramas mainly appeal to young female audience, they portray teenagers and gender in different ways. The Korean high teen dramas have a relatively even gender ratio-both in number of characters and their significances. The characters form a social group and interestingly, they date within their group members. Moreover, boys fight over the same girl in many cases- both Goong and Kkot bo da Nam ja being prime examples of this.
Additionally, Korean dramas reflect the Cinderella syndrome commonly found in Korean culture. The male protagonist, a son of a rich family (or even a prince!), falls in love with a female character from a poor background and turns her into a princess – to no surprise, the ‘poor’ girl is pretty and young. Traditionally in Korea, when a woman marries, she is labelled by the reputation of her husband. This characteristic seems to still prevail in Korean drama, influencing its female audience to become prone to the Cinderella complex- the belief that a man will transform her life in mere seconds. Not effort but pure luck and good looks are all it takes to marry a ‘prince’ and become ‘Cinderella’. Although unrealistic, the Cinderella effect can be very appealing and lead many women backwards in feminism history.
Chick flicks, on the other hand, are more about friendship between female characters. The storyline is almost always developed around girls and their adventures- whether that would be a search for true love, plotting revenge, and whatever else. As a result, scenes of makeover, shopping, gossiping, and pure female bonding, are more commonly found in chick flicks.
Recent chick flicks show stronger feminist characteristics by portraying female protagonists to focus more on passion, friendship and success rather than love. An example is easily found in one of the latest chick flick - Pitch Perfect. From an all-white, bikini bodied acapella group that only sings classics, the Bellas become a group that challenges stereotypes against young girls. The Bellas do not submit; they will fight, they will shout, they will do whatever it takes to win the acapella battle- even if that means dancing in skinny jeans on stage. In addition to the transforming female figures, Pitch Perfect also demonstrates the importance of accepting differences. The film portrays different people cooperating with each other. Nobody in the Bellas is ‘perfect’ - too tall, too fat, too black, too obsessive, too lesbian. It is only through respecting each other that they make harmony and achieve what they worked hard for - victory.
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Chick flicks and High teen dramas have gained popularity over past couple of decades. Young audience sympathize with the struggles of love relationships and transition into the adulthood that are portrayed in these productions. As we become adults, chick flicks/high teen dramas still remain as our best friend that brings nostalgia about the teenage years as well as journeys to experience the different cultures. Moreover, these films and dramas can sometimes teach a lesson or two for those who are reaching adulthood.
As Cady from Mean Girls quotes, “Calling somebody else fat won't make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn't make you any smarter. All you can do in life is try to solve the problem in front of you.”