Joseph Campbell, the scholar who introduced the idea of the hero's journey, a part of an ongoing human narrative that stretches back to the Paleolithic period, unwittingly proved that most human narrative, whether drawn on a cave wall, Greek vase, or on some ancient scroll, was male-centric and so developed "trials" specific to male-centered story, like "ritual death and dismemberment." One of the most popular storylines influenced by Campbell in Hollywood history is the Star Wars franchise.
Of course, Campbell's hero's journey is merely representative of the patriarchal society the collected threads of human story came from. But today, in the 21st century tapestry, the narrative of the female hero has earned more vibrant colors. And Easy A gets an easy "A" for playing what will be considered by future feminists and socio-political scholars an integral role in early 21st century pop culture history.
Our hero, a high school girl who is not particularly popular but particularly bright--which is probably why she's not terribly popular--becomes the subject of a rumor that spreads like wildfire thanks to the ever-present advent of texting and the fact that in 2010, EVERY teen and tween seems to have a cell phone or iPhone or Blackberry attached to their body (a la Gary Shteyngart). Played beautifully by Emma Stone, our hero, Olive Penderghast, must find a way to deal with being the new school slut though still a virgin.
Directed by Will Gluck, the next John Hughes, Easy A magically weaves together all the best moments of the top 80's teen flicks like Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Say Anything, Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club, and others. Olive is branded a slut; her best friend turns on her; people stare at her as she walks down the hall; no one will sit with her in the cafeteria; jealous girls hate her; and every boy in school wants her to be his next conquest...both imaginary and real.
Olive uses the sittuation to her advantage but finds that what seemed advantageous has become more like a festering contagion as she fights off the first guy who actually asks her out on a respectable date because he thinks she's an "easy A."
But there is a happy ending...it is Hollywood after all. And this reviewer was especially touched by the constant literary allusion to Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter--used as a kind of theme throughout.
Unfortunately, part of the female-specific hero's journey does include sexual empowerment. If you have sex as a teen girl, you're a slut; if you don't, you're a prude. Neither the twain shall meet. For teen boys, having sex affirms your masculinity--and having it with many partners is cause for congratulations...as long as you use a condom. Which, one unfortunate character, did not.
This reviewer had a similar experience to Olive Penderghast (and I'd wager much of the female viewing audience has as well)--which is why the authenticity of the script is so appreciated, thanks to writer, Bert Royal. Thankfully, my time in high school coincided more with Ferris Bueller, so there was no texting or Facebook or Twitter to spread the viciousness. And my moment of triumph did not come at a pep rally but much later in life. However, the Hollywood ending in Easy A is a manifestation of the desire for female heroes to master their two worlds much more quickly. And I heartily second that emotion!
Easy A gets a 10/10 on the Housel-scale; Emma Stone ROCKS as the modern, high school-Hester and Gluck and Royal are equal rockers for their part in what WILL BE considered a cult classic in the next 20 years.