Over winter break, I watched a nice movie about Billie Jean King and the tennis game she played against Bobby Riggs. The movie’s title, as you may already know, is “Battle of the Sexes,” starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell.
The film takes place in the ‘70s, and depicts Billie King and other female tennis players struggling to be paid the same as male tennis players. The women and are kicked out from the Lawn Tennis Association, and they decide to found their own association and to play in a new tournament. The Lawn Tennis Association — ruled by, you guessed it, men — is unhappy with these dissidents, and seeks to prove that women deserve less money than men. So they set up a match between Billie Jean and Bobby Riggs, a retired Wimbledon champion. The rest is history. Steve Carell impersonating Bobby Riggs does a great job, and was rightfully nominated, along with co-star Emma Stone, for the Golden Globes. I always considered Carell to be a mediocre actor, starring in rom-coms such as “Crazy Stupid Love.,” but as always, I have changed my mind. Carell is an expert in playing the role of the chauvinist politically incorrect character, and I really appreciated this skill.
When I arrived here in Boston roughly a month ago, I didn’t know about the TV show which seems to be a must-see here in the United States. The door of my room displayed, and still does, a beautiful picture of Steve Carell, sitting on a couch, saying “I love you,” with my name written beneath. At first, I didn’t get what this was a reference to, but fortunately, an American friend introduced me to “The Office,” and then I realized what the name tag on my door meant. Later, in class, the TF showed a clip from “The Office” to demonstrate the use of psychological conditioning.
I was immediately struck by the humor of the show, its discriminatory and biased humor was not only funny, but also made me think. I thought about Carell in the role of Michael Scott, a role very similar to that of Bobby Riggs, and I thought how much we need characters that make us think about our society, even when they’re problematic. In our everyday routine, we don’t always think about problems such as sexism and racism, but they are implicit to our day-to-day lives. I think shows and movies, which make us laugh because of their hyperbolic nature, can help us to see better what we don’t always want to pay attention to. After all, are we sure that we are all better than Michael Scott?