Confessions of a Shopaholic (US, 2009)


This posting is not about this film because I haven’t seen it (I never will) but I was struck by the tagline. The film’s clearly a romcom, so it’s not meant to be taken seriously (though the ideological message of the genre is always serious), but it struck me as a perfect expression of  consumer society.

On one level, the idea that a handbag is more important than anything else is obviously humorous because it’s stupid. But presumably the target audience of this film think that, in actuality, a handbag is important? I work is a school were I’ve noticed, recently, that girls are increasingly dressed in the same ‘celeb’ fashion of have similar ‘celeb’ hair – based, no doubt, on the plethora of ‘lifestyle’ magazines. These magazines suggests that ‘accessorising’ is important (I heard a colleague once suggest ‘You can’t have too many accessories’); no doubt a handbag is a key item as it will hold many of them.

The character is obviously ditzy, but will the narrative focus on her growing maturity as she gives up the desire for the handbag?  What’s the odds that she gets the job, the bloke and the f**king handbag? Sure it’s a ‘romcom’, a fairy tale, but it’s also a symptom of post-industrial, consumer society that is obviously no longer tenable. It’s another example of post-feminist culture where women are represented as being independent but still in thrall to patriarchy.


There’s an excellent article on vacuous modern romcoms in The Guardian. Whilst it’s heartening that the teenagers in the article see He’s Just Not That Into You and Confessions of a Shopoholic for sexist shite that they are, however the former’s taken $62m (after two weeks) and the latter $21m (after one) at the North America box office – these reactionary movies are finding a receptive audience. There’s little evidence that tastes in America are that different to the UK: the former film took £5m after two weeks in the UK; the latter’s just opened – don’t go and see it.


One Response

  1. Sex and the City -> worse

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