Monday, November 24, 2003

The Anal Film Critic: Legally Blonde, Deaf, and Dumb

And as long as I’m giving belated film reviews, I might as well grouse about “Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, and Blonde,” which I saw on the airplane while returning from a conference. I had been avoiding this movie because I figured I would certainly be irritated by its politics. (I don’t generally dodge viewpoints I disagree with, but rarely do I seek them out as entertainment, unless I will get my own turn to speak.) Presented with the chance to see it for free, I figured I’d give it a chance.

The premise of the film is that Elle Woods, airhead and Harvard Law graduate, goes to Washington and tries to pass a law banning the testing of cosmetics on animals. She begins this quest after discovering that her pet Chihuahua’s mother is a test animal. (Question: Are dogs really used as test animals with any frequency? I thought they used rabbits, mice, rats, and chimps most often.) Now, what I expected to see in the movie was a strongly biased case against animal testing: lots of arguments about the alleged inefficacy of such testing, with virtually no representation of the other side. But what I saw was arguably worse. While the movie presents very little resembling an “argument” at all for either side, the handful of quasi-arguments presented are all on the pro-testing side. Several representatives and scientists make at least superficially persuasive statements in defense of testing, all of them left unaddressed by the test-banners. So what carried the day for the anti-testing side? Pure emotional appeal, based on the cute furriness of the subjects. Elle’s cute wittle doggie sticks its head out of a bag and barks, and all the congresscritters melt. (That’s the short version. If you’re a glutton for punishment, watch the whole thing for all the schmaltzy details.)

In short, we are not to judge the wisdom of an animal-testing ban on the basis of clearheaded discussion and scientific facts. Rational argument be damned -- it’s all about the warm fuzzies.

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