This time last week, I finally did something that I’d been planning, but putting off, for weeks and weeks. I put the kettle on, grabbed a blanket and some comfy socks, and rewatched Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging.
With the awful news at the start of this year that Louise Rennison, author of the legendary Georgia Nicholson books, had passed away, and the much better news on Twitter that Aaron Johnson had ditched the blonde highlights and Dick Dastardly mustache, for weeks I’d had an itch that only the Ace Gang could scratch.
I know a lot of people don’t like the film because it’s not enough like the books. I can see where they’re coming from: there’s no Mr and Mrs Next Door Neighbour, Libby doesn’t feature anywhere NEAR enough, and I don’t think there’s a single mention of nuddy-pants. Sigh.
I remembered from watching the film at the cinema (way, way back in 2008) a lot of laughing, a lot of nether-region fluttering over Aaron Johnson (incidentally, rewatching it, I fancy Tom a LOT more), and a burgeoning obsession with the singer of that song, The Show. And I figured that this time would be pretty much the same.
And I did do all of those things. But I also did… quite a lot of screaming at my TV. This film, it turns out, is pretty badly anti-female. How, you ask? Let me list the ways.
1. Peter. Fucking. Dyer.
Peter Dyer, aka Saliva Boy, could seriously do with taking one of the consent classes that they’re rolling out in unis across the country. Not only does he physically launch himself on Georgia at the house party that they go to, and continues trying to kiss her WHILST LYING ON TOP OF HE in a bush as she’s quite CLEARLY saying ‘Get off me’, he even goes as far as to turn up at her house the day after and say these exact words: ‘I’m sorry if I pushed you too far at the party. You just drive me mad’… and goes to kiss her again.
Wow. Translated, this is basically: ‘It’s your fault that I tried to sexually assault you, even though you made it CLEAR that you didn’t want me to touch you, because I just really, really, really like you.’
Nah, mate. No, means no, means no. Take your shit hair, your excess saliva, and your lack of respect for other people’s boundaries, and piss off.
2. There’s a LOT of slut-shaming
Like, a lot. It’s mostly directed at Slaggy Lindsay (hmm), and actually, it’s often coming from Georgia herself. The Ace Gang seems to think that wearing a thong makes you from ‘Vulgaria’, the word ‘scrubber’ is used quite a lot throughout the whole film, and they seem OBSESSED with not going too far with a guy too soon. Holding back your sexual curiosity is a sign, just in itself, that you’re Girlfriend Material.
Slut-shaming isn’t cool, gals.
Hint: it doesn’t.
3. Robbie is a complete and utter fuckboy
But he is pretty good-looking…
This one had me LITERALLY shouting at the TV. I’m going to break it into bullet points, just to lay out as clearly as possible the general fuckboy-ness of this situation:
After a little bit of flirting, hanging around in boats, and cooing over cats together… Robbie kisses Georgia. Like, full-on kisses her. In a swimming pool. Whilst he has a girlfriend.
He then scrambles out of the pool, saying that he needs to ‘sort some things out’ and that he’ll ‘call her’.
He doesn’t call her.
Georgia takes Dave the Laugh to the Stiff Dylans gig to make Robbie jealous. Fair enough, it’s not a very nice thing to do. But they’re both single, and Robbie isn’t.
Jas tells Tom that Georgia is using Dave the Laugh, and Georgia ends up picking up litter at school, in the rain, for kicking Jas.
Robbie then proceeds to storm over and have a MASSIVE go at her for using his friend Dave, leaving a pretty pathetic image of Georgia, without a best friend, without a boyfriend, in the rain, whilst cheater Robbie swans off, still with a girlfriend, still with friends, still with half the school pining for him. BUT HE’S THE ONE WHO CHEATED, NOT HER.
In typical fashion, everything comes right in the end: Jas and Georgia makeup, Robbie and Lyndsay split up, and Robbie ‘chooses’ Georgia instead.
WELL, THANKS, ROBBIE. If it was me, I would SERIOUSLY try to remember that Robbie kissed Georgia behind his current GF’s back. What evidence is there that he won’t do it again? Why is SHE in the wrong?
4. That Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus bit
In one scene, Georgia’s Mum gives her this book and tells her that, studying it, it will magically banish all of her boy woes. Now the Banging Book Club already did a pretty good job of taking this down, but just in case you missed it – this book sucks.
The whole premise of the book is that a woman must scheme and manipulate in order to hold on to her man. The ‘elastic band’ theory, that you have to let a guy stretch further and further away from you so that he’ll come springing back, is bullshit. We’re not just going to sit in our rooms whilst a guy goes and flirts around. Just to be there when he comes running back. Nope. No way.
Look, I’m going to be honest, I still loved rewatching this film, and if you’re stuck on what to do on Sunday evening, give it another watch. The dialogue is cheesy but hilarious, and the teen mindset is spot on. I think we ALL were tempted to shave our eyebrows instead of plucking them and, in case you missed it earlier, Aaron Johnson is fit. OK? He just is.
But there are huge issues. Luckily, it’s a sign that our attitudes towards women are changing. These things immediately whacked me in the face as hugely anti-feminist. I definitely wouldn’t have picked them up ten years ago. So I’m grateful to this film, its pop culture legendary-ness, AND its weird-ass way of talking about women and sex. Times are changing. Let’s keep the gender equality ball rolling.