The Bad Hair Cut
Legally Blonde 2 evoked a variety of responses from critics from positive to negative. All of them, while focusing on the artistic qualities of the movie, or lack of them, usually ignored the serious issue raised by the film, despite the fact that the movie had a direct reference to Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, a work with a great social/political message.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was conceived in the 1930s, at the time of the Great Depression and a rising critical Left agenda. It lambasted the corrupt elite and encouraged an attack on the elite from below. This streak can be implicitly detected in Legally Blonde 2, a venture to Washington to defend the rights of animals. The only difference is that, besides being corrupt, the elite are also trivialized. One of the Congresswomen is congratulated for passing an important bill but also finishing the remodeling of her house. It is not just the Washington elite that is absolutely foreign to their consistency - one of the Congresswomen openly proclaims that the masses should be manipulated. The bureaucratic rank and file are absolutely foreign to the electorate as well, as emphasized by their almost army-style uniformity in clothing, in sharp contrast to the attire of Elle Woods, the heroine and, to some degree, the embodiment of the masses.
This attack on the establishment is a rather trivial cliché whose origin can be traced back to Mr. Smith. It would also fit well into the agenda of the Left. Still, the movie hardly presents the Left as a viable alternative to Conservatism, and the major premise of the Left's ideology is clearly denied.
Concern for minority issues is one of the major shibboleths of Leftist ideology. In the context of this philosophy, the script should have at least one positive protagonist of minority origin. In fact, it has none. The black female, who works for Congresswoman Woods's major rival and hints of Condoleezza Rice, is apparently quite shrewd, but she is also apparently cynical and scornful of young idealists who move along the corridors of power to acquire nothing but "blisters on their feet." She finally comes to act in the right way, but one could still question her intentions if one remembers that she feels herself absolutely isolated in the end. While a few shrewd minorities are incorporated into the establishment, the vast majority either fall out of political life completely or are engaged in meaningless activities such as the Million Man March, which was transformed in the movie to the "Million Dogs March."
The gender issue is another important shibboleth of the Left, especially of radical feminists. In their view, whether a woman looks attractive should be of no importance to her--she should concentrate on her career. Indeed, most females in the movie who are successfully incorporated into Washington's political elite not only evoked no attraction from the opposite sex but--like the chair of one committee--they evoked fear instead. Still, as the movie implies, they all crave to be attractive and, upon receiving a frivolous haircut which supposedly transforms them into beauties, they start to behave like crazy teenage girls who want to attract the attention of the opposite sex. One of the protagonists, a young, asexual female, upon receiving this haircut, starts to behave exactly as the radical feminists would suggest a man behaves. She attacks one of her male coworkers, pushes him to the ground, and then, upon actually raping him, proposes that he marry her.
The basic irrelevance and sheer absurdity of both Left and Right agendas, which acquire meaning only when the vested interests of any of the groups are at stake, can be seen in the story of one senator and his dog. He discovers that the dog is homosexual, and this issue seems to preoccupy him more than anything else. Originally he cannot stand this. This is apparently a hint to conservatives who frown upon homosexuality. Finally, however, he changes his attitude and became closer to the liberal Left. He feels that his conversion to the proponents of gay dogs living together is important enough to announce his views in Congress, which, in turn, regards this speech and the entire issue important enough to be seriously considered.
The movie's attack on the establishment, both Left and Right, as corrupted, trivial or plainly idiotic in their agendas, is an important aspect of the movie, but does not make it unique in its political message. The blasting of the elite, mostly those on the Right, can be found in other recent films. Yet these films usually point to an alternative to the elite--the American people, who are presented as the political and moral anchor of American democracy. It is also assumed in these cases that the ultimate victory of the people in taking back the power usurped by the elite is a source of optimism and vitality for American democracy. It is this element that is conspicuously absent in Legally Blonde 2.
In order to understand the role of the people, the average American, in the movie, we need to turn to the heroine, Elle Woods, who goes to Washington to save animals from being used in experiments to enrich a cosmetics company. Externally, Woods looks very much the same as in Legally Blonde. But she actually has a much more complicated, multidimensional image. Woods undoubtedly represents the people. She comes from a small provincial city that seems to epitomize the places where most Americans live. Despite her Harvard degree, she speaks in the unsophisticated language of the average American girl, with references to her haircut as a point of departure. And, most importantly, she relies on grass-roots initiatives to bring thousands of her supporters to Washington.