“Forty years ago in Alabama, there’s a lotta mamas and daddies that would be thrilled that their 14-year-old was getting hit on by a district attorney.”
Mindless or Dumb AF?
I am up to my eyeballs in Christmas cross-stitch projects, and I half-watch mindless TV while I sew. So the other night, when Sweet Home Alabama was on E! The! Kardashian! Network!, I settled in with my needle and thread and remote control.
In my mind, I’ve been going to
Carolina Alabama a lot. Between the election and the college football playoffs—Go Clemson!—, why not let Alabama have another fraction of my brain space?
Basic premise: Melanie Carmichael is the IT girl of New York fashion. Andrew Hennings proposes, she accepts. Unfortunately, Andrew’s mom, Kate, aka the mayor of New York City, thinks Melanie has some skeletons in her closet. Surprise…surprise…surprise! She does! Melanie is still married to a man named Jake back in her hometown of Pigeon Creek, Alabama. Cue the Skynyrd and “War of Northern Aggression” jokes cuz Melanie is headed back to the Heart of Dixie to get her a dee-vorce.
Sorry y’all, but Sweet Home Alabama does not hold up. The movie poster reads, “Sometimes what your looking for is right where you left it.” We should have left this flick in 2002, the year Ben Affleck was People’s Sexiest Man Alive, the year Justin and Britney broke up, and the year Nickelback hit number one of the charts.
Let me tell you why…
Ugh, These Names
Born and raised in South Carolina, I never heard such hick names in all my life.
In Greenville, South Carolina, I grew up with a Stephanie, a Kenneth, a Tonya, a Todd, a Brad, tons of Jessicas and tons of other Amys.
The heroine of Sweet Home Alabama is one Melanie Smooter of the Pigeon Creek Smooters. Get it? It’s like cooter! As in “Crazy Cooter is comin’ at cha!” #boduke4life. Melanie’s parents are Pearl and Earl. It rhymes.
A dude from Nevada wrote the screenplay, and he needed a surname that Melanie would be embarrassed about. He settled on Smooter, probably because no one would buy the name “Huckabee.”
Other character names in the film are:
- Stella Kay
- Bobby Ray
“Lurlynn” is the sound I make when I’m trying to talk while shoveling grits that are way too hot into my mouth at the Waffle House, after a long night of tossing back pinot grigio. And of course, Lurlynn is the one with “a baby…in a bar.”
The Evil Character is Jewish
Melanie’s future mother-in-law, Kate, sends a staffer down below the Mason-Dixon to spy on Miss Melanie. We are supposed to hate him and his meddling ways. His name is…wait for it…Barry Lowenstein. Kate seems like a savvy lady; she’s the mayor of New York City, after all. Sure, send a Jewish kid down to a region with well-documented anti-semitism and “we don’t call 9-1-1” attitudes, to snoop around plantations looking for dirt on a blonde, white woman. What could possibly go wrong?
Barry’s cover? He’s a “journalist.” This movie had #fakenews before 45 “coined” the phrase some fifteen years later.
In some movies, a character’s haircut can be so chic, that it transcends the era in which it was filmed. Think Jane Fonda’s shag in Klute; it’s timeless and still evokes the spirit of the 70s. Melanie’s reverse flip bob in Sweet Home Alabama is bad, so indicative of Delia’s/Kate Gosselin hair trends from the early aughts, that it makes me incredulous that Melanie could really be in high fashion. Designers should be able to spot a look that isn’t going to be tired within 6 months. Miuccia Prada never looked like a Spice Girl.
You Got Out, Girl!
My life in New York works, Jake. But then I come down here… and this fits too.
Kids wanting to escape the small towns is not new. Hell, the second I graduated college, I packed a U-Haul and moved to Chicago with nothing but $535 in my pocket. It’s normal to want to ditch the insular, backwards, judgy and sometimes dangerous environment of a small town. While not perfect, sometimes the big city offers you a better chance to be yourself without fear, to find your people, to live out your dreams. Melanie wanted to be in fashion so it makes total sense she left Alabama for Manhattan. And as much as I side-eye her work—she ain’t no Proenza Schouler—, Melanie did become a success.
There is zero reason to come back home for good. Jake can make pretty glassware. Surely Melanie has connections to someone in buying at Saks or Macy’s! Get your man and get right back out, girl. Alabama doesn’t fit. Jake’s dick fits. That’s all.
Melanie’s Parents Are Racist
If you have a Confederate flag throw pillow, you’re racist. Don’t @ me. It’s all the proof I need.
Melanie’s Mom Would Vote for Roy Moore
Pearl Smooter is a woman who can’t fly to visit her daughter—her only child—in New York City because it “doesn’t suit.” Pearl’s hobbies include being selfish, canning fruit, shelling peas, and making passive aggressive comments about Melanie’s weight.
Pearl objectified Melanie by thrusting her into beauty pageants as a little girl. She followed that up with some amazing mental gymnastics pushing her daughter to leave Pigeon Creek but then punishing her for actually doing it. Pearl’s motivations are muddled but she sure does love the Lord. She’s a white, Christian woman who can obfuscate while sitting on a Confederate Flag pillow. She’s a classic Roy Moore voter.
The Liberal Democrat Is A Bitch Because…of Course
Nothing about Mayor Kate makes sense. I get that uptight East Coast WASPs have rules (I live in Newport, Rhode Island, their summer base). Moms like Kate prefer you marry an Episcopalian who went to Choate and then onto Wharton. But she’s looking at Melanie on the cover of W magazine, and still calls her a young piece of ass?! Melanie owns her own business and isn’t Catholic or ethnic in any way. Kate’s anger makes zero sense, but it certainly does reinforce the idea that a smart, accomplished woman is always a shrill bitch in a pantsuit.
Sorry people of Alabama (Alabamians?), but Roy Moore and his supporters are not putting your state in a good light. Yes, there are good people down there, but when y’all have people cheering as the Rotting Cheetoh says vote for a man who tried to have sex with children, your state has a disease. Something rotten is going on. It puts a bad taste in my mouth, and nothing in this rom-com starring Reese Witherspoon and the guy who voices the Home Depot commercials helped to get rid of it.