I can’t even lie, I still am very confused about where I stand on Pitch Perfect 2, currently the number one movie in America. As a whole, the movie certainly ran the gamut featuring no shortage of racist, bigoted, and homophobic remarks called “jokes” about every culture, ethnicity, and sexuality presented; the majority of which neither myself, my partner, nor the audience laughed at or found funny (which led me to then trip out on a Psychological wonderment of what the experience of viewing this movie in different regions of the country would be like – I would LOVE to study which jokes landed where the best). I wanted to make sure to note that important point before moving on, because I feel like more than one article could be devoted to just this important topic, but my focused lens for this specific article is on addressing both the blatant and underlying fat phobic tones of the film as surrounding the character of Fat Amy. As the movie went on, however, it became confusingly clear to me that the article would also have to touch upon the moments of potential albeit limited body positivity (?), perhaps even fat acceptance (?) that truly left my head spinning (wondering if anything about it was truly positive or just shaming in a very good disguise). With that in mind, I created this list of Pitch Perfect 2’s Fat moments Highs and Lows, which should be treated as an open, honest, and still-digesting inquiry!
(*which I have since realized all actually have their deep downsides as well that I will discuss.)
1. Centralizing a fat character as a main character (as opposed to just a supporting character, and centralizing a plot theme around her).
*However, she is mostly centralized as humor rather than humyn!
2. Rebel Wilson’s character herself claiming the name Fat Amy proudly.
*However, the name was still used frequently throughout the film as another point of joke contention. For example, fat phobic comments made above by the member of another acapella group to express fat phobic “humor” that many audience members found hilarious. *also important to note that mostly no one thought that racial jokes were funny but all fat jokes were totally accepted judging by laughter volume. (*I also super hated the fact that when looking on the @pitchperfectmovie Instagram account, they celebrated this scene with a dubsmash featuring another character and it already has 7,258 likes, complete with a myriad of ignorant comments.*)
3. Giving Fat Amy the main love interest theme in the movie.
*Amy was the only Bella character whose love story was really featured in this movie – aside from the other main character, she seemed to be the only one with a love interest. Also, when Bumper proposed a relationship, rather than an expected response, Fat Amy proclaims that she is a firework who can’t be tied down! Often fat girls are portrayed as being overly desperate or overly sexual so I thought that moment provided a brief amount of balance.
*However, when Amy does have her epic love scene moment, they take what could have been a beautifully quirky moment of romance, and turn it into an overly humorous to the point of gross makeout scene – with Amy’s tongue flying everywhere…literally making fellow partygoers in the scene flee with feared looks on their faces. The making-out progresses into a tackle-like romp and roll around on the grass to which the majority of the audience loudly squealed: “Ewww” or “Ughhh” loudly and uncomfortably. Again, dissonance set in in my brain; I had JUST read an interview with Elizabeth Banks, newly in Director role, (trust me, whatever feelings of excitement of having a female-run operation disappeared upon seeing this movie) that had led me to believe her intentions were otherwise! Essentially she said in the interview that she purposefully gave Fat Amy a love story because she was relatable to so many girls and she felt it was important they could see a love plot that they normally didn’t get to. Why did you then turn it into something embarrassing Elizabeth!? Please readers take a moment to try and imagine what it would feel like to watch this moment as a fat girl still exploring sexually…
1. Opening and closing the movie with physical comedy whose punchline is Amy’s fat body.
*The movie notably opens with a failed acrobatics scene featuring Fat Amy flipping upside down in a harness, and complete with crotch-splitting and vagina-revealing (which then became the touchstone joke of the entire rest of the film and can even be seen as the opening of the trailer) – the result of this is the ultimate shame and embarrassment on the part of the entire Bellas acapella team. My main question to the audience and our readers to check the potential fat phobic roots of this humor: Would this have been as funny to you if one of the pint-size bellas had broken her harness?
*The movie ends, perhaps a little less notably, again with a a failed physical comedy stunt that dramatically uses the large size of Fat Amy’s body as the brunt of the joke: she is seen demonstrating the initiation experience of sliding down the staircase on top of a cylindrical structure – of course she eats complete shit flipping and rolling half the way down – and of course she pops-up exhilarated. Also, of course, the movie ends just as the thin sized newbie is about to take flight down the stairs itself – almost itself answering my original question posed above: it just wouldn’t have been as funny to see a thin body falling down the stairs as it was to laugh at the fat.
2. Almost every single comment Fat Amy makes is about sex or food.
*This can reinforce stereotypes. While there is nothing inherently wrong with anybody talking about sex (we should be doing this way more in fact) or food (in a non-policing or restrictive way), I just really had wished to see Fat Amy’s character be given a bit more depth and vulnerability – while it is still clear that she has moved from fat clown sidekick to more of a group leader and power player whereas the Pitch Perfect series progression is concerned.
3. Fat Amy’s outfits are outright heinous and speak of our plus size days of yore when shapeless, frumpy Lane Bryant was our only option!
*Now, we have so many already-styled options already in existence plus every major movie should have it’s own costume and wardrobe budget – if you can’t find Rebel something cute because you aren’t looking hard enough or your’e only trying to cover up her shape, then fucking design something fabulous yourselves! There is literally no excuse her aside from blatant fat phobia as displayed in spatial discrimination relating to Amy’s outfits, which again are poorly styled and poorly cut. The only cute outfit that highlighted her curves was the vintage-inspired green dress featured at the beginning; every other outfit was a tee shirt and jeans essentially! I also found it fascinating that they like to have Fat Amy saying things about her breasts like she needs to readjust them after jumping around, but never actually ever featuring what I can only imagine is her glorious cleavage – let that womyn rock something low-cut already, or at least anything that would show her curves off as opposed to looking like they are trying to be hidden!
*I would also be remiss in not at least mentioning the one other Fat babe Bella featured in this film, extremely talented actress and singer Ester Dean playing the character of Cynthia-Rose (which I didn’t even know the character name of and had to Google afterwards; very telling I think). Ester totally and completely rocked the shit out of her role, however, I was super disappointed that the only notably Queer and more androgynous female character, was basically framed almost in a sexual predatory kind of way where she is constantly hitting on the straight girls around her. Sitting snuggled with my partner who somewhat reminds me of Ester, and seeing this, just made me feel sad that perhaps anyone who isn’t gay or Queer wouldn’t know that this is an inaccurate stereotype. (The same can be said for the way I felt about every racist remark spewed.)