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nina hartley

Thanks, Greta, for a great post. Due to travel stuff, I saw "Devil" four times in one week, on planes, and liked it each time, which surprised the pants off of me. Your points are right on.

She can always make up the missed birthday party. What's so special about a specific date, anyway, if you care about each other?

stephen gottlieb

I agree with you in principle. if you are going to be scrupulous in you life, you must live by your scruples. if you intend on being a shallow, predatory vicious bastard with no soul, you will do well in big business. I have not seen the movie and never intended to. either you intend to advance or not. if you intend to advance, you will basically have to kiss your obnoxious bosses ass once in a while. if you want to improve your career, your bosses approval and job skills are required. if your boyfriend/girlfriend have a problem with that, you need a new S/O. and I must say, meryl streep looked extremely hot in this film. I may have to watch it after all.

Jon Berger

In all fairness, it's the same basic story as "The Big Picture," except it's snarky about the fashion industry instead of the movie industry. The protagonist in "The Big Picture" was played by Kevin Bacon. So it's not just a girl thing.

The thing that annoyed me about "Devil" was that we were supposed to buy the Anne Hathaway character as dowdy, frumpy, and generally outside the pale of what fashionistas like the Stanley Tucci character could stomach -- but she just wasn't. Anne Hathaway is a drop-dead gorgeous Hollywood actress, and that's exactly what she looked like in the movie. They didn't even give us the standard movie cue of putting her in glasses to let us know we were supposed to think she was unattractive. Kudos to "Ugly Betty," which is basically the same setup as "Devil," for actually, unreservedly de-glamorizing America Ferrera.

Red Jenny

Interesting review. Can I post it at Leftist Movie Reviews here:


Great review, and great comments on women and ambition. Normally I avoid self-help books like I avoid pleated pants (ha! I made a fashion joke!), but I'm currently reading Debra Condren's amBITCHous , more for the validation as for the advice.

P.S. Commenter Jon Berger is absolutely right about the beauty that is Anne Hathaway. I wanted to scream every time they called her a fat girl for wearing a size 6.


Very well-put! I hadn't been able to put it into words previously, but I think that your points are exactly what bothered me about this movie. After I finished watching it, I felt that I'd rather have watched a whole movie about fascinating and high-accomplishing Miranda rather than unprofessional Andrea, who shows up at her job interview not knowing anything about the magazine she wants to work for.


What a step-by-step logical post! I've avoided seeing this movie because I've only heard negative opinions of it, and I have no interest in fashion. And because Hollywood movies always piss me off one way or another. But now I want to see it just out of curiosity about your points.


Love this post. Hollywood movies always piss me off too, but I rarely get around to building a logical argument from my pissed-offness. There just seems too much to deal with - where do you start? Getting stuck in to one worthy film at a time in this calm, engaging way looks like the way to go.


Oh, thank you -- especially for bringing up the boyfriend chef's workplace atmosphere. I had the same thoughts after seeing this, though I hadn't put it into a "men v. women in the workplace" context -- I just thought it was lazy writing. Disappointing, given that the rest of the movie was funny and entertaining, but it's a big sour note that ruins it for me.


I picked up your review rather belatedly via fyrdrakken on livejournal, and it flagged up points that I'd made in a review when it first came out, which I wondered if you would find interesting:


The boyfriend is an intensely irritating passive-agressive crybaby -- let's get that out of the way right now.

But I'm not sure that the movie is really trying to push the idea that Andrea is 'selling her soul' to the extent you suggest.

I got the impression it was trying to say that she was losing perspective of the goals and intentions she had when she originally took the position, not because she was selling out, as such, but because she was in an environment in which fashion world (and Miranda) were accorded such extreme importance and urgency that it threatened to overwhelm her. In other words, she was beginning to treat what was originally intended as a stepping stone as an actual career in itself, not because she desired it, but because she was swept up in the momentum of it all. I feel this is subtly different to 'selling out' which implies a more deliberate or cynical move.

The book pushes the 'selling her soul' aspect more strongly, with the character supposedly neglecting her friends/family/boyfriend, and the judgemental whininess of the boyfriend in the film appears to be a remnant of that (probably retained for the romantic trouble/drama subplot) but I suspect the film-makers very consciously sought to soften this aspect, and I think they largely succeeded.

I think they also very deliberately removed the snobbishness Andrea displays throughout the book, as well as her whinging 'poor me!' attitude, but that's another story.

Paul Zagoridis

Ingrid is smart.

Every point you've made resonated with my view of this movie (actually and most movies where the protagonist "sells out" and later redeems herself.

Sure this post is two years old. But I found myself watching House of Saddam this week and feeling strangely similar. Saddam was an ambitious, ruthless and murderous dictator. But what else should we expect from that world view and cultural bias?

Fiction needs conflict for drama, and western audiences seem to prefer the triumph of ideals over ambition. Fiction must also make "sense". Real life on the other hand can be messy, illogical and rewarding ambitious risks (when they work out).

Seth Manapio

Hank Hill did not "grow to love" propane, and propane accessories. In flashback sequences, it becomes clear that Hank's lifetime love has been, and always will be, propane and propane accessories.

Ren Richardson

I really enjoyed the movie and I think your pragmatic take on some of its themes are more than warranted. But I have to wonder about your primary point: you claim that Anne Hathaway's career path was made to be the subject of a dilemma in a way that no one would give a second thought to in a male protaganist.

Really? You mean the theme of a young, idealistic male embarking on a new career who, when presented the opportunity for money and advancement, faces the hard choice of what he must sacrifice (sell-out?) for success is not a repeating theme in Hollywood? Or maybe you mean that movies always celebrate the fact that men *should* choose professional success over relationships, family, personal development, or integrity. Of course they do. That's what we expect in our male-dominated culture, right?

Except they don't. Ever seen "Wall Street"? Or dozens of other movies with similar storylines? The moral of their stories, with slight variation, boils down to the same thing "The Devil Wears Prada" was conveying, whether you agree with that message or not.

If Hathaway's character finds herself presented with tough choices about what path her life is going to take, or what priorities are going to take precedence (and that those choices are quite similar to what any man in her position would face), I would think feminists would appreciate that message: women have to make hard choices because they have more of them.

I also remember laughing when I heard the quote in the movie you refer to as your favorite: "If a man acted the way Miranda does, nobody would say anything at all except what a great job he does."

Easy to believe....but in reality, at least most of the time, completely false. You have Miranda, who is highly successful, portrayed as if something is being taken away from her achievements by the fact that she is criticized for her personality.

What world are you referring to exactly when you say her male counterpart wouldn't be criticized at all? I laughed when I heard that quote because it is ridiculous. Again, you may want to believe that a different standard exists but in reality it isn't that different at all. Sure, we expect different behaviors from men and women (surprise of surprises) but most highly successful men I know that make similar sacrifices Miranda made are criticized for their demeanor in much the same way, just substituting the gender-appropriate terms. There are far more similarities between the personality types than there are between the same sex. In fact, if Miranda were a man, other men would be some of his most vocal critics. If anything, women tend to give more of a pass to men like that because, let's face it, they stand to gain a lot more if there is the possibility of a relationship.

Besides, it's not like Miranda *couldn't* obtain her position. No one kept her from it. The fact that you and the movie were complaining about the point that other people shouldn't *say* anything about her status sounds suspiciously like it belongs in the "Shut Up, That's Why" category of arguments that you rightly dismiss when it comes to anti-atheist sentiment.


This exactly how I felt when I saw the movie with my mother when it came out. When Emily screams at Andrea for "stabbing her in the back" with the paris trip, my mother leaned over and whispered "what is this, a sorority?"

I resent this expectation that females are supposed to nurturing and put relationships and family above their jobs. I've been dating my boyfriend for 5 years, but at 21 I know it would be suicide for me to just move across the country to live with him post grad. All the jobs in my field are happening in New York, and I made it very clear from the start that my career will always come before him.

I felt the same when I saw the latest Meryl Streep movie, Julie and Julia. Had the whole movie been just about Julia Child, I would have really enjoyed myself. Instead I have to watch Julie fake all her smiles so that she can go on pretending that she likes her life and that her boyfriend isn't a complete douchebag. When she finally finds something she loves, her boyfriend is callous, unsupportive, childish, and everyone calls Julie a bitch for not humoring him. The end. And we're supposed to swallow that whole!

Elle Bee

I'm years late in finally watching this film. Every point you've made was exactly where my inner rant was going as I watched this movie with the retro message.

The point of the movie when I realized how far backwards we've moved in regards to women's career development was when boyfriend was walking out on her in the middle of the NYC street, all for the sin of missing His Birthday.

Where have I seen that scene before? That whiny childishness, "but it was my big DAY and you MISSED it for your JOB!" It was in the movie "A Bunny's Tale," a film about Gloria Steinem's stint at Playboy, when she went undercover as a Bunny, and discovered the inequities women employees faced there. At one point, there was an almost-identical scene with her boyfriend, walking out on her because she dared to miss his big night because her job kept her overtime.

But the difference was, Gloria yelled back. She didn't look ashamed and guilty, she didn't question her morals for doing the job she was asked to do. The upshot of the movie was that "all women are bunnies - but it doesn't have to be that way."

Unfortunately this movie gets it backward. Andy doing her job in order to make it in the competitive world of journalism is seen as "whoring", while running back to boyfriend and simplicity is seen as "virtue." With this movie, Gloria Steinem's message is erased.


some folks have made some salient points about questioning the "selling out" script and its relevance to a gender-specific critique, but I think that some are missing the point: It's not that male characters aren't challenged about their ethics in business; it's that what *constitutes* poor ethics tends to a HUGE shift in values when the protagonist is female. No one would have batted an eyelash if a male protagonist had accepted a promotion over someone who had *made himself* his enemy and *set himself up* as the guy's chief competitor (not that it wasn't clear that the environment engendered it as well, but EMILY antagonized Andy from day one, without any provocation whatsoever. Sorry, but they were NOT friends, no matter how they'd come to resolve the tension.) Normally, an audience would have cheered in those circumstances and thought it not a little strange had the hero turned down a project knowing he'd be fired as a direct result. Andy, on the other hand is made to see the error of *her* ways, though, which makes NO sense whatsoever. She was not responsible for the decision and held no sway over it. In fact, Emily WOULDN'T have been allowed to assist Miranda with her injury. She likely would have been considered a hindrance and a liability and Andy would have gone anyway.

Listen, nobody sees Andy failing to appreciate her boyfriend for rubbing her feet after a long days' work, or even sees him showing up and being supportive of her , though it looks like he's barely employed at the time. Personally, I think those implied extra hours of his do more to explain why he feels slighted, more than what explicitly happens in the movie. I wonder what her boyfriend will be like when he's trying to make the tough climb to sous-chef (does anybody really believe he'll be starting sous-chef)? Nobody bothers to inquire in the movie, even though it's obvious to anyone who's worked in a tough industry that "what it takes" is just "what it takes" and you're either wealthy or very lucky not to HAVE to do MOST of the things Andy does and that her boyfriend, who is asking her to MOVE, for cripes sake, will have to do those things as well.
Most of the things that make Andy "wrong" just make her a "person with a job". I thought of Wall Street too, but Wall Street actually does the male characters that courtesy of being specific enough to show them making choices that are the direct result of poor character and involve exploitation and unprovoked divisiveness and vindictiveness. Andy does none of those things, but we swallow it whole, as one commenter said, that she's a bitch simply because she chooses, as EVERYONE KNOWS one must frequently do when one is just starting out has little credibility in an industry, to make sacrifices for a thankless job. Wall Street is yes, competitive as well, but selling money (which is really what the job entails in that context) tends to be an unscrupulous venture to begin with. Basically, Andy is the bad guy because she doesn't kill herself taking care of everyone else, but takes care herself, and let's be honest -- she just barely does that. It's a shame that the movie forces her to apologize for it.and about

And there is no way in the Devil's Home that Anne Hathaway wore a size 6 at the time. And even some of the post-makeover clothes in some of the production photos are too big on her.


I like this post, though it looks as if I'm quite late in reading it - I just came across it on stumble. But what it made me think of is my own academic career. There was a moment I realized that (aside from the intellectual challenge) my far greater challenge would be to assert myself - and that when confronted by an assertive male, I had been socialized to capitulate to his view. I realized with some shock that in order to succeed , I'd have to get over that. I don't know that I'm quite there yet but awareness is a good part of the journey. Thanks for spurring my thoughts by sharing your own.

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