How “She’s the Man” blurs an imaginary line

She’s the Man, directed by Andy Flickman in 2006, is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night set in a modern, 2000’s America setting.  In the movie, Viola Hastings (Amanda Bynes) is frustrated to see that her school, Cornwall, has cut the women’s soccer team from the budget.  She petitions the coach to allow her and her teammates to try out for the men’s team, but is brushed off because he (and the team) is convinced that girls are scientifically slower and weaker than men, and that the girls would never succeed on the team.

Viola, in retaliation, decides to take her twin brother’s place in the rival school of Illyria.  While her brother is away on a two-week band tour of London, Viola becomes Sebastian Hastings and tries to make it in the “man’s world” of the men’s soccer team.  Her roommate, Duke, happens to be the captain of the soccer team, but the two don’t hit it off at the start.  Viola finds it difficult to completely drop her feminine habits and mesh well with the social life at Illyria.  After reinforcing her (fake) masculinity by pretending to have had multiple girlfriends in the past, Viola finally connects with her teammates by passing on her “experience” with women.  With her original goal in mind, she agrees to help Duke go on a date with Olivia, his crush, if he gets “Sebastian” on the team to play against Cornwall in the next two weeks.  By the time Duke gets his date, however, Viola has developed feelings for him, and is against the idea of a relationship between Olivia and Duke.  This love triangle is not resolved until the climax of the film, where Illyria’s soccer is facing off with Cornwall’s soccer team.  At the game, it is revealed that Viola has been masquerading as Sebastian since she came to Illyria.  However, things end happily when Illyria beats Cornwall, and Duke escorts Viola at her Debutante Ball.

This movie places an emphasis on highly masculine and highly feminine aspects that define the gender binary spectrum.  Fickman turns this adaptation into a modern tale by erasing some of the lines that separate the two “sides.” In the film She’s the Man, Fickman blurs the lines between femininity and masculinity by using cinematic techniques to contradict the two binaries, and then blur the division between them.

Topic sentence #1: Fickman uses soccer as the main instigator of the male vs female conflict, and uses it as a unifying factor to show that the two genders are equal in skill.

Topic sentence #2: Traditionally masculine and feminine personality traits, like being sensitive or rough, are often interchanged or disproven between the male and female character arcs.

Topic sentence #3: Many of the characters, both male and female, use deception to hide their true intentions, which leads the audience to interpret traditionally masculine or feminine characteristics as false.

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