A Twist on a Classic, Part II: “Easy A”

In case you’re just tuning in, you’ve arrived at the second part of a two-part series. Check out A Twist on a Classic, Part I before you proceed.

I wanted to see “Easy A” since watching the first teaser trailer. Not only do I consider Emma Stone to be a fabulous (and underrated) actress, but “Easy A” also seemed like the only even vaguely intelligent movie to appear in theatres in a long time.

Hawthorne’s classic…

The Scarlet Letter, although written in 1850, is set in the 17th century, during the heyday of Puritan rule in America.

At the book’s open we meet Hester Prynne, a young Puritan woman. She’s just been led out of the town prison, her infant daughter in her arms and a bright red letter “A” sewed onto her clothing.

Hester’s husband sent her ahead to the colony, but has been presumed lost at sea. And it’s been just a little too long for the child to be his.

And yet Hester refuses to tell the town the name of the man with whom she had committed this crime. Therefore her punishment is to wear her scarlet emblem for the rest of her life.

Hester Prynne is eventually redeemed, and The Scarlet Letter has become a classic piece of literature on themes such as sin and redemption.

…with a twist

Flash forward a few centuries to modern-day America. After lying to her best friend about losing her virginity to a fictitious community college boy, high school student Olive Penderghast finds herself swept in the rumor mill.

And when her friend Brandon asks her to pretend to have sex with him so people will stop bullying him for being gay, Olive agrees to help.

But soon things spin out of control, and Olive must decide whether her lie was worth it.

Thoughts

I absolutely loved “Easy A.” I loved it for all the typical reasons: intelligent humor, ridiculous moments, and it was a clever modernization of a classic.

But I also enjoyed the film because it inspired discussion at the table over dinner at a nearby restaurant; it also begged for further thought and–obviously–its own blog post.

Hands down the most thought-provoking aspect of the film was the slut shaming that Olive experiences from everyone — even her best friend, as well as the campus counselor.

I felt twice as bad for Olive, a fictional character, because I know that the behavior shown in the movie is the kind of behavior that occurs in life. It’s the typical double standard: men who give up their V-cards in high school are considered cool, and oftentimes high school girls who lose their virginity are shunned. And it’s by everyone, not just the Bible-thumpers depicted in “Easy A.”

It makes me think that “Easy A” would be a very different movie if the main character were a high school boy who went around pretending to have sex with multiple girls.

One of my friends in the group who saw the film said that the film made her worry that people will think all Christians are the way “Easy A” presents them. Not only are the people in Marianne group rude and cliquish, several of them are flagrant hypocrites.

Christians are often the antagonists in movies such as these — mainly because it’s a stereotype that is based in truth.

I think in “Easy A” it’s a way to show that no one is genuinely the way they present themselves to the world. Almost every character makes bad decisions — they sin. And in the end they have to come to terms with those decisions, and make the best of it they can.

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