John Tucker Must Die is a 2006 film that follows the daily life of a girl named Kate (Brittany Snow) as she navigates high school dating at a new school. She meets John Tucker (Jesse Metcalfe) and discovers that he is dating three women at once, unbeknownst to them. Kate, having seen her mother hurt from past relationships with men who do not treat women respectfully, decides to tell the three girls about their cheating boyfriend. Then, the four girls become friends while finding ways to damage John’s high school social life through various, often sexually related (failed) pranks. They believe that social “castration” is the only avenue upon which to dethrone John Tucker as leader of the school. In an effort to teach John the ultimate lesson, the girls prompt Kate to date John with the goal of eventually breaking his heart. However, Kate eventually develops feelings for John. In the end, Kate feels guilty about her false relationship with John and tells him that she had been plotting to hurt him the entire time they dated. Still, John and Kate remain friends, and it is implied that Kate ends up dating John’s quiet and sensitive brother.
It is quite clear that in the world of the film, certain behaviors are rewarded and others are not based off of the consequences of such actions. For example, despite the fact that John treats the young women without empathy and is portrayed as a borderline narcissist, their attempts at sabotage never actually affect him. His social standing, as the attractive alpha male of the school, remains intact despite the girls’ efforts to emasculate him. In fact, in the end, John continues his polygamous ways and is even praised by his peers for doing so. Women continue to want to date John in the final scene, even when he is honest about dating multiple people at once. Though their failed pranks are a source of comical irony, their failures highlight a major gender script. This gender-based script is that men who are attractive and are confident in their ability to attain multiple sexual partners at once can do so without social ostracism.
It is still worthwhile to discuss the fact that the women are aware of their mistreatment by men and do not remain idle, which does represent a step towards portraying the “tough girl”portrait. However, despite the fact that the women are collectively fighting a patriarchal environment which they resent, they ultimately fail in changing the status quo and must resort to less-than-popular alternatives. In other words, the overall, more clear lesson is that men will never change, and so young girls should choose to be with the more feminine and sensitive man in the end, even if he is not socially regarded as highly as the alpha males.
Thesis: The consequences of actions made by characters glorify gender based double standards where hyper-masculinity has higher social value than femininity. Though teenage women collectively fight this patriarchal environment, they seem to fail in changing the status quo, thus perpetuating the normalcy of the sexual double standard.
Topic Sentence 1: The pranks that the girls plan are all made to emasculate and feminize John in an effort to sabotage social standing, thus highlighting the Freudian idea that a man’s worth comes down to his sexual abilities. (Discuss phallic related prank “castration”)
Topic Sentence 2: Gender specific double standards are shown by the young women’s disgust with dating multiple people when compared with John’s high social standing for doing the same thing.
Topic Sentence 3: It is worthwhile to discuss the fact that the women are aware of their mistreatment by men and do not remain idle, and this represents a major shift in film culture where women’s ability to choose to reject the patriarchy is supported.