Elle Woods: Real American Hero

July 3, 2013

I LOVE Legally Blonde.  Haters to the left.  And for your July 4th reading pleasure, I am going to outline why this movie is the best.  This post does assume you’ve seen the movie or are at least familiar with the plot, which you freaking should be.  If not, get thee to IMDB immediately.

First, to outline the couple problems, because nothing can be perfect.

1. You do not go from a 143 on a practice LSAT to a 179 on the real one.
It just doesn’t happen.  Okay, fine, maybe it’s happened, and there’s some miracle law student out there who bumped that grade up, but otherwise, nope.  That’s going from well below average to the top 99.9%.  Everyone with a 170 or above on the LSAT is in the 99th percentile.  180 is the highest score, and this is not a content exam, so it’s not like she magically crammed a ton of info into her head.  Just, nope.  Still totes happy for her!

2. Gay people stereotypes
Enrique, the pool boy and one of the prosecution’s key witnesses, is about as flamboyant as it gets, and Elle figures out he is in fact gay because he recognizes that Elle’s shoes are Prada.  “Gay men know designers, straight men don’t!”  ahhhh stop.  Additionally, Elle’s lesbian(?) classmate got her Ph.D. in women’s studies with an emphasis on women in combat (which sounds hella interesting, for the record; I would read that dissertation), and is later shown arguing with Warner about how “semester” actually shows preference to men (semen vs. ovaries) and she’s starting a petition to have the next one be the “ovester.”  I can’t.  Semester means “six-month period,” for anyone who was wondering. 

Now that we’ve got the small sad-trombone moments out of the way (such a shame…), let’s move on to why this movie is the best thing that’s ever happened in America.

1. Law school realism
Barring her ridiculous admissions video, the scenes when she’s in school are actually pretty darn accurate.  You DO have first-day assignments, and while you probably would not be kicked out of a classroom for not doing them, you’d better get it together.  The professors DO call on you like that all the time: Socratic method, that’s American law school, they look at the list and “Ms. Cozzetto, please state the facts of this case.”  She seems to have both crim law and civil procedure in her first year, also totally accurate.  And competition for internships (summer associate stuff) is crazy competitive.  Also the amount of work she does.  Pretty accurate.

The one different thing?  She’d be totally hip with her Mac.  2/3rds of students now have them and lots have the brightly colored cases.  Elle Woods, trendsetter.

2. Paulette is the best
The movie’s main love story revolves around a chubby, “lower class” woman and no one, not Elle, not the UPS delivery guy, not anyone except for her ex, makes fun of her or her circumstances the whole damn time.  She gets the hot guy, she gets her dog back, she gets what she wants, and Jennifer Coolidge kills it as usual.  Her relationship with Elle doesn’t feel forced at all.  Which leads me to…

3. This movie passes the Bechdel test with flying colors
More than two named women, they all talk to each other, and about something other than a man.  And just in general, there are so many diverse ladies in this it makes me happy.  Elle and Paulette do frequently speak about men, but Elle takes times out to rescue Paulette’s dog like a champ.  Elle’s two sorority best friends are supportive as hell when Elle decides to go to law school, and while it’s played for comedy (“Elle! We came to see your trial!  Oh look how cute there’s like a judge and everything!”), they showed up to something they have no interest in simply because it’s important to their friend.  The judge in the trial is a black woman, and the lead prosecuting attorney is a white woman.  Elle’s civ pro professor is a McGonagall-esque lady, and even when she kicks Elle out on the first day, no one calls her a bitch.  Elle’s whole sorority both encourages her as she goes out on what she thinks is a proposal date with Warner, and then cheers for her when she gets her LSAT results, because these are things that matter.

Of course, the best example of this is Elle and Vivian, who by all tropes and rom-com rules should hate each other because they’re technically competing for the same man.  But pretty much as soon as Vivian realizes Elle is kind and Elle realizes she doesn’t have to hate Vivian for being engaged to her ex, they start being friends.  And the best kind of friends.  They work together, they both joke about how they are asked to get coffee when their fellow male interns are not, they offer to help each other out.  Vivian eventually dumps Warner for being a punk, and they are besties.  I like to imagine them riding off into the sunset to make the world a better place for women.

4. Elle Woods is so wonderful and kickass I can’t even deal
She’s super happy and kind the whole damn time, even after 1L year, which can easily crush anyone.  She decides she’s going to Harvard, and so she works insanely hard and gets in.  She decides she wants the summer associate job, and so she does the same.  She helps out her classmate when he’s trying to get a date.  She helps out Paulette.  She remembers her haircare rules and because she knows both how perms work AND how cross-examination works, she freaking wins a goddamn murder trial, and I will love the makers of this movie forever for allowing her to use knowledge about “stupid, lady crap” to dominate everyone.  She could easily rest on her appearance and focus on superficial things, but she doesn’t, because she’s chosen other goals.  HOWEVER, and this is the important thing: she doesn’t judge any other person for their choices, no matter how “superficial.”  She decides what’s best for her, and kills herself to get it, without ruining anyone else’s happiness in the process, and especially without having to trample on any other women.  She is my hero.


Happy Fourth, everyone.  And remember the rules of hair care are simple and finite.

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