Emily Blunt and The Double Standard We Set For Unlikeable Characters
5 min read
by Kelsey Duchesne | October 04, 2016
It should come as no surprise that unlikable female characters get the brunt of some heavy criticism. While dark and flawed characters like Walter White are seen as the modern day anti-hero, unlikable women often are often complained about (do "Why is she so whiney?" and "Why is she so selfish?” sound familiar?). Emily Blunt will be starring in the movie adaption of the best selling novel Girl On The Train as Rachel, and is not here for the sexist double standards-- but thanks tho!
“With so many movies, women are held to what a man considers a feminine ideal. You have to be pretty. You have to be ‘likeable,’ which is my least favourite bloody word in the industry. Rachel isn’t ‘likeable.’ Blunt said in her interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “What does that mean? To be witty and pretty and hold it together and be there for the guy? And he can just be a total drip?”
Blunt’s comments don’t simply represent unlikable female characters, but the female archetype in general. In 2007, when describing the movie Elizabethtown, journalist Nathan Rabin coined the term “Manic Pixie Dream Girl”-- i.e. the perfect prototype of a women through the male gaze. “"[The Manic Pixie Dream Girl] exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures", Rabin defined. (Flash forward to present day, and Rabin regrets creating this term). Emily Blunt’s portrayal of Rachel will certainly not fall in this definition.
“A woman is a drunk, a whore, whereas the guy’s like a partier, a player. I’ve been around both women who drink too much and guys who drink too much and it’s just as ugly on the guys. It makes me crazy. I don’t think that women should be seen as any less sexual than a guy.”
Blunt’s character Rachel is an alcoholic who no longer has a job, or maintains relationships. She is no longer married and does not have children (and another surprise-- her choice not to be a mother does not haunt her throughout the entire film. So long, dated plotlines!)
Emily Blunt in The Girl on the Train, Sony Pictures
“Maybe she doesn’t want to settle down, and that’s OK. And maybe she doesn’t want a kid, and that’s OK. And she’s just happy playing the field. There’s so much judgment with women.”
We're looking forward to seeing Blunt play Rachel, a character that is so rarely the lead, on the big screen. She may be "unlikable", but we see her as human, and she deserves to be seen.
by Kelsey Duchesne