I really want to gush about Pitch Perfect 2. I loved it. There was so much great stuff going on. It didn’t exceed Pitch Perfect in quality, but it did way, way better than I feared it would.
And I’m going to gush. Probably tomorrow, but maybe not until after I’ve seen it again, which I will definitely do.
Before I do that, though, I want to talk about some of the problematic stuff. Because there was plenty of it. Spoilers probably.
Cynthia Rose, who is the only explicitly lesbian character, continued to sexually harass Stacie. This running joke, which perpetuates the narrative of the predatory lesbian, had no lampshades or narrative disapproval. Stacie was obviously uncomfortable, but her discomfort was not at any point confirmed as valid, nor did Cynthia Rose face any consequences for her predatory behavior.
Previously queerbaity Chloe was confirmed bisexual — or at least interested in sexually experimenting with Beca — but no ships thereof sailed. To me, this felt like a token effort to address the previous queerbaiting without really dealing with it.
John, the acapella podcast host, continued to make routine openly misogynistic jokes, countered by his cohost Gail with routine disapproval and embarrassment. This routine felt kind of icky to me, though to be honest I laughed at all the jokes. It’s not hard to interpret it in a way that’s not at all problematic: it represents the perpetuation of, and the lack of serious consequences for, misogyny in formal institutions; but it’s also easy to not interpret it that way, and just read it as “Misogyny’s fine, just as long as it comes with a wink and a nudge.” And while I think an audience member is justified in choosing to interpret the bit charitably, I also think the movie is accountable for reasonable uncharitable interpretations.
I can’t remember any lines Flo had that weren’t a joke about global poverty. Unlike the previous example, I can’t think of any charitable interpretations. I can think of several uncharitable ones, but not with enough clarity to effectively explicate at the moment. I’m sure other people have written, or will write, about it, and I’ll link them when I see them. (I’ve been avoiding commentary on the movie because I didn’t want to see spoilers but I’ll be seeking it out now.)
That’s all I’ve got right now, which is what’s still clear enough in my head to feel comfortable writing about after about 24 hours after leaving the movie.
And, again: I loved this movie. I really enjoyed it, I want to see it again, and there’s a ton of stuff in it I want to gush about, in narrative, music, cinematography, and in ethics and social justice. This movie got a lot right. But it did also get a non-trivial amount of stuff wrong; to a degree where I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say they could have done better. (Especially with Cynthia Rose. I really would have loved to see some acknowledgement that, somewhere in the three years between this and the last film, somebody told her “You need to stop sexually harassing other group members, it’s not okay.”)
I feel the same way about the first Pitch Perfect, which I’ve seen at least a dozen times. If, for some reason, they make a third one, I’ll definitely go see it, even if I’ve heard from every corner of the earth that it’s terrible, because that’s the amount of goodwill these films have earned in my mind.
And I intend to write positive things about this one. I just knew I was sitting down right now to write either that post, or this one, and I felt more comfortable starting with this one.