Pitch Perfect: Pitch Slapping Feminism and the Teenage Hookup Culture

Pitch Perfect (Jason Moore, 2012) follows Beca (Anna Kendrick) through her freshman year of college at Barden University. Although Beca originally is introduced as more of a “loner” figure, she is persuaded to join the Barden Bellas, an all-female a cappella group. The movie progresses through the introduction of the “new” Bellas which differ from the previous Bellas who cared mostly about attractiveness over singing. The new group changes the idea of what a “Barden Bella” is while struggling to find harmony in a group with two strong personalities, Beca and Aubrey (Anna Camp), that have two different ideas about how to win competitions. Throughout the movie, the Barden Bellas’ biggest competition is the Treblemakers, the all male a cappella group. From this group, Jesse (Skylar Astin) works with Beca in the campus radio station. The two have feelings for each other, but get into a fight due to Jesse’s involvement in Beca’s life. This is resolved by the end of the movie when the Barden Bellas win the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella and it is implied that the couple remains together.

Under the surface, Pitch Perfect is a complex movie that explores the idea of teenage hookup culture and attacks feminist ideas. It can be argued that Pitch Perfect made a cappella groups popular through sexualization. The movie relies on carefree ideas about sex that surround the current hookup culture. Songs, dance moves, and dialogue all have sexual references. These references can be direct (for example, Bumper (Adam Devine) referencing hooking up multiple times) or indirect (when Aubrey describes what nodes are). The references also impact how women are seen throughout the movie. Women are referred to by their looks or sexual appeals. Furthermore, the competition between the Treblemakers and the Barden Bellas demonstrate an attack on feminism through phallic symbols, and jokes made by the commentators, Gail (Elizabeth Banks) and John (John Michael Higgins), at the a cappella competitions. Throughout the movie, male a cappella groups are considered to be superior to female groups. Even at the end of the movie, when the Barden Bellas win the competition, the win is not based purely on talent like it is for male groups. The commentators mention the girls’ appearance and the performance is sexual.

Thesis: Although Pitch Perfect focuses on a female a cappella group’s path to winning the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella, the movie promotes the patriarchy through the competition between the Treblemakers and the Barden Bellas, crude sexualized dialogue, and phallic symbols.

Topic Sentence 1: Although there are four a cappella groups at Barden University, the movie only focuses on the competition between the all-male and all-female groups and constantly reminds the audience how difficult it will be for the female group to beat the males.

Topic Sentence 2: The jokes in Pitch Perfect are either sexual or about an “other” group of women such as homosexuals, or races other than white.

Topic Sentence 3: The presence of phallic symbols, such as the empire state building and microphones, implies the idea of male dominance throughout the movie.

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