Editors' Note: Guest blogger Louisa Hill is a senior at Agnes Scott College where she studies theatre, French, and women's studies.
Agnes Scott College, the supposed World for Women, has become the cesspool for Hollywood's C-list sequels. In my four years here, I've had the pleasure of experiencing the filming of such quality movies as a remake of "Revenge of the Nerds" and "Van Wilder III" Our most recent cinematographic credit is "Road Trip II: Beer Pong."
First, let's recognize the irony of a film whose Craigslist recruitment ad seeks extras who are "EXPERIENCED Beer Pong players" being filmed at our Princeton Review-named "Stone-Cold Sober" school. More importantly, this movie's reinforcement of sexism, racism, and heterosexism unhesitatingly undermines the College's values and mission to educate women to "live honorably, think deeply, and engage in the intellectual and social challenges of their times."
Although Agnes Scott was tied for Georgia's most LBGTQ-friendly campus by Atlanta newspaper, Southern Voice, students eating dinner were recruited in the cafeteria to be extras in the film's derisive "Lesbians until Graduation" scene. The recruiter assured us that the only requirement was "acting like lesbians." But in case we were interested, they welcomed same-sex "background kissers."
Apparently the main premise of the scene involved the male protagonists stumbling upon the room full of these "making-out lesbians" (to presumably "convert" them?). When we expressed offense, the recruiter said she was warned about encountering uncooperative students who were "really into being women" (versus into being objects?).
This recruitment was foreshadowed by a fake bulletin board as part of the movie's properties advertising the "exploratory meeting" for their fake college's "Lesbians Until Graduation" club, qualified by statements like "Miss your boyfriend from high school?" which is apparently the only acceptable "excuse" for being a lesbian.
To understand the mindset behind these actions, let's examine how the filmmakers put up signs that said that if we entered certain areas on our campus (including our main quad with our library and humanities building), we were granting the production crew permission to reproduce our images "throughout the universe for all of eternity." This same utter entitlement to our bodies was reproduced in the way that the production team assumed that just because we were on (our own) campus and that we were women, they could recruit us for this degrading "Lesbians until Graduation" scene.
If they had been filming a "Gays until Graduation" scene at (all-men's college) Morehouse, would someone have gone to their cafeteria asking students if they would want to "act gay," offering them the option of "making out if they were interested?" I doubt it. There's something much more complicated and insidious here. Unfortunately what this movie is reproducing is a cliché: the tokenizing and eroticizing of lesbianism as existing solely from the absence of men and as a fetish for heterosexual men.
Agnes Scott women already face the insulting stereotype of girls pillow fighting in silky pajamas. How are we supposed to be taken serious as an academic institution when the production team won't let us in the library because they're filming barely dressed women running around on our quad? We, with our backpacks and winter coats, surely would disrupt their intended portrayal of women.
During the filming, we experienced other forms of dehumanization through harassment from the film's production team. One student, when walking by the set with a paper cup of coffee, was accosted by an extra, who asked the student to get him one. Another student was told, in the vein of a pick-up line, that she was so attractive, she should watch out for being raped.
Although we were assured that these incidents were unusual and that repercussive actions were taken, how can we see this harassment as separate from the film? If they're producing images objectifying women for men's prerogatives, then it seems that these verbal assaults fall on the same continuum of entitlement.
Furthermore, the movie's Craigslist ad states "primarily seeking White" and "Attractive Female Model Type" extras, valued at $7.17/hr (be sure to send in your weight!). These racist and sexist standards are clearly visible on the movie's promotional flier, helping to perpetuate the image that only sexy white people go to college. The flier shows a headless white woman's body, focusing on her large breasts, barely covered by a shirt that says "Nice Rack." Her pelvis is in front of a triangle of shot glasses. The tagline? "Get your balls wet."
An anonymous group of students protested the film with fliers associating this image with our college's admissions slogan: "Agnes Scott: Who will you become?" These posters were displayed on our quad and in our student center for a few hours before they were removed by our administration.
Of course, it all comes down to money. As our college president wrote in an email to the student body, "if we restricted ourselves to films that fully reflect Agnes Scott's culture and promote our mission, we would drastically reduce film-shoot revenues." These revenues "[keep] Agnes Scott affordable and [maintain] its academic quality."
However, let's look at the logistics. Our school is netting $30,000 for the filming of this movie on campus. This amount is just about one year's tuition, which means that if only one student stopped coming here because of this film, the school would lose money. I hope that our administration sees that this meager sum is not worth the compromising of its students' dignity and of our reputation as an institution for women's empowerment. If they haven't gotten the message yet, we're just too "into being women" to stand for this objectification any longer.