Tina Kakadelis
YA Author


Burn Before Reading: A Carly Allen Story

Battle of the Sexes

Today's quote comes from one of my favorite Tom Petty song, Wildflowers. Apparently, in 2007, Tom made Stevie Nicks an honorary Heartbreaker sheriff's pin that she still keeps fastened to her black velvet top hat. Class acts, both of them.

Yesterday, I saw Battle of the Sexes with my dad and Mom, if you’re reading this, maybe put a pin in it until you see it? I know you don’t really mind spoilers and I don’t think this will be very spoiler-y, but who knows.

Battle of the Sexes is the movie out with Emma Stone and Steve Carell based on the true story of Billie Jean King playing Bobby Riggs in a tennis match to prove that women are just as good as men. It’s an awesome true story and a really, really good movie. And the scene with the neon and Crimson and Clover?? Beautiful. Also, I think that was the first time I heard the real version of that song and not Joan Jett’s. Logically, I knew Joan Jett’s was a cover, but out of sight out of mind, y’know?

The movie’s about a very sexist dude named Bobby Riggs who’s a little past his tennis playing prime. In his heyday, he won a couple grand slam tournaments, but now he just gambles his wife’s earnings away. Yeah, not even his. He gets it into his head that he can beat any female tennis player even at his current age. Enter Billie Jean King.

She’s a champion for equal pay and one of the best tennis players in the world in 1973. She’s also living a very closeted life while falling in love with a hairdresser. (In real life, it was her secretary, but y’know how Hollywood is.) Anyway, Billie Jean and the women aren’t getting paid anywhere near what the men are being paid, so she starts her own women’s league. When Bobby initially challenges her, she says no. It’s only after watching Margaret Court lose to him that Billie Jean agrees. The fastest way to get men to listen is to prove them wrong.

It’s a feel good movie no doubt. Who went into the movie thinking otherwise? Oh, I’ll tell you. All the male movie critics I’ve seen so far. They’re all proclaiming it as “liberal feminist nonsense” that’s “pandering to the Hillary Clinton supporters” and I just want to scream at them because they somehow missed the point that was laid out so clearly in front of them.

First of all, since this is a true story, we all already know how this ended. A review I read said that the ending was bundled up too neatly. What did you want to happen??? Did you want the filmmakers to wildly rewrite history so it fits in the world you want it to???

The dumbest review I saw said that the ending let the audience leave patting themselves on the back because feminism finished the job some forty years ago. That’s how I knew the review was written by a dude without even checking the byline. Feminism didn’t end when Billie Jean King won. You know that, right? It’s important to me that you know that. Just look at The United States National Women’s Soccer Team out there fighting for equal pay right now. Not forty years ago with Billie Jean. Today. In 2017. So much has changed and so much is still the same.

All these dudes are out here saying that it was too unrealistic that she won. SORRY THAT THE TRUTH IS UNREALISTIC FOR YOU. And of course, every single dude reviewer is bringing up the fact that there were rumors (rumours that have no basis in reality) that Bobby threw the match to settle his debt with the Russian mob. Like, I get it, Dude Movie Reviewer, it is so INCONCEIVABLE to you that a woman beat a man in a sport that you just HAD to bring up an unsubstantiated rumor to rationalize it. And you said there was no need for feminism anymore.

There was this guy’s review that called the movie “moderately enjoyable,” but he thought they simplified the message too much and missed what he thought was the major point; that the fight for equality still goes on.

First of all, “moderately enjoyable?” Get the fork outta here. This was a damn good movie. Well done stylistically, too. I can name a million other bio pics that are absolutely lazy on the filmmaking front and this movie does NOT deserve to be lumped in with them. 

Second thing, bro, women don’t need the reminder it’s not over. We know it’s not over. It is so obvious that it is not over. Every time a woman steps outside or turns on the news or goes online, she is PAINFULLY aware that the fight is still raging. So, I’d like to ask; how was the message reduced? Truly. Every single woman watching this movie knows that this famous battle was just that; a battle. A small, mighty win that brought us a step closer to winning the war.

Also, everybody’s shocked that it’s more about Billie Jean’s life than that one match. Like...did you really want to sit there for two hours watching a fictional tennis match without meeting or understanding the characters at all??? Go watch the real footage from the game. Geez. Just relax and enjoy a good movie, okay??

I don’t think the movie reduced the point or the message at all. And maybe if you thought it did, you didn’t get the message in the first place.