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Lindon Dodd Dissects “The Chick Flick”

News and Tribune
DODD: Defining a chick flick
Local Columnist
January 04, 2009 12:51 am

— My family was in the middle of enjoying a wonderful Christmas holiday when the little debate began. It started innocently enough with my wife, Kim, asking me about going to see a new Brad Pitt film.
I responded with the kind of honesty that is destined to always end up in controversy for a man. I made one simple comment: “That sounds like a chick flick to me.” Her response was very straightforward. “Exactly what is a chick flick?” For a moment, I was silent. I know what a chick flick is. But for the life of me, at that moment I could not come up with a definition.

After much post-question thought, I could have come up with several well-thought-out answers. The movie “Beaches,” for one. You remember this movie, the one with Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey that your wife, girlfriend or first-time date made you take them to, or it was the only one that wasn’t sold out that day at the cinema complex. I can guarantee you that if you went to the movies and saw “Beaches,” there were no groups of more than two males in the audience. There was enough excess estrogen in the air of that theater to create another whole female.

“Beaches” was kind of a nonlesbian female love story. It had all the elements of a chick flick. There was that lifelong girlfriend relationship. Relationships with men had never really worked out for the two of them, yet through all of their lives, the two women were always there for each other. One of them had a terminal disease which brought them full circle from that first day they met on the beach. They were total opposites who complimented each other: one a quiet, shy homemaker type and the other a loud, rebellious, showbiz personality. If anybody ever asks you what a chick flick is, refer them to watch “Beaches.”

Unfortunately, not all chick flicks are as readily discernible as “Beaches.” Most of them are disguised as something else, and as a guy, you only find out you are at a chick flick way too late to do anything about it. My guess is that by the time you realize it, you are already sniffling and in need of a Kleenex. Chicks love to have a good cry at the movies. It’s cathartic. Every pent-up emotion or frustration that they have borne all of their lives will come out with a good cry at the cinema.

Another thing about a group of women viewing a chick flick is that afterward they can go have a cup of coffee and discuss emotional responses as a group. Men seldom empty out their emotional group closet after a game. I never remember asking one of my buddies, “How did that make you feel inside at the moment when your team scored that winning touchdown?”

An additional necessary element of a chick flick is that there has to be a sexually charged romantic relationship that never results in sex. This is known as an unrequited love, defined as not returned or reciprocated. Men define this as a love not resulting in sexual relations. Most men like their romance requited. Women enjoy romance without sex and find such relationships emotionally fulfilling. Men tolerate romance to have sex and find such relationships a complete waste of time.

I am worried now that the chick flick conflict represents just another emotional generational gap. There is a new term among younger men describing their man-to-man relationships. The term is “bromance.” I am guessing that men who are in a nonsexual, heterosexual relationship who self-describe it as a “bromance” probably are not averse to going to see a chick flick together. They might even open up afterward about their emotional response over a cup of latte.

Kim even had to give me an oral test regarding my use of the term chick flick. “You love the movie, ‘Pretty Woman.’ Is that a chick flick?” Obviously, I could not immediately dismiss it as a chick flick just because it is one of my favorite movies. Come on, who wouldn’t pull for a street prostitute to charm and win over an emotionless, noncommittal billionaire businessman? I will tell you when Julia Roberts is overcome by emotion and openly weeping while personally attending her first opera, I just have to have a hankie nearby.

OK, if “Beaches” is the obvious and ultimate chick flick because it contains every element, other movies are to be judged separately. And in most cases, real macho guys like me can only judge them after the fact using the following criteria:

1. Did the female actors have way too many emotional-sharing discussions?
2. Did I at any point openly weep?
3. Did one of the main characters die, were in the act of dying or discuss dying?
4. Was there an unrequited love?
5. Would I openly admit to another man I just met that I enjoyed the movie?
6. Kim also wanted to add that some comedy or a sense of humor is a necessary element.

I’ll let you know if I enjoyed the new Brat Pitt film …
Lindon Dodd is an Otisco resident who is a freelance writer and can be reached at

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