Literature / Managerial Skills / Working

Why I Hate The Devil Wears Prada

Notwithstanding my girl crush on Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada presents a ridiculously optimistic and naiive view of work. The movie, I must admit, is 10 x less annoying to me than the book. But the book is hideous. Here’s why:

1) Main Characters (writer) are Clueless, Naive, and so Gen Y In the movie, Andy’s boyfriend is a sous chef  or something. In the book he’s a do-gooder teacher. I don’t mind idealism, but in both versions he looks down his nose at Andy’s job. And then gets self-righteous about what she’s spending her time doing, like it’s nothing. Being the assistant to a fashion goddess at a magazine may not be her dream job, but it’s certainly a job worth trying hard for. He acts like she’s sold her soul to the devil just because she works long hours and tries hard. It bothers me so much. Since when is a good work ethic something to sneer at?

2) It Tells You You’re Selling Out if you Work Hard Andy in the book is a TERRIBLE worker. In the movie, she improves, but in the book she’s surly, snarky, and flat-out a BAD employee. She complains about everything. She back-bites her boss. She does stupid things like buys coffee with corporate cards and then gives them away to homeless people and thinks she’s being charitable. She’s not doing it out of love, she’s being spiteful. She gives 50% to everything she’s doing and never gets better. This is where the movie for me was the only saving grace. At least there she actually does try somewhat, but in the books she’s a bad employee and then curses her boss for being demanding. Wake up call: Bosses are demanding. They have a right to be Another wake-up call: To move up the ladder you have to work your butt off. You have to be there before anyone else and stay later. That’s just life until you “make it” and there’s no shame in that.

3) It makes being an assertive, successful, aggressive female akin to being the devil. Is there anything more anti-feminist? The boss isn’t someone I may aspire to be in entirety, but she has a lot of great qualities and incredible influence. But the book just views her as a mean, ruthless, byotch without a soul. It’s  so disappointing that media is stuck on portraying successful women as heartless and one-dimensional.

I watched it again last night and I’m not sure why. Maybe because of Meryl Streep. Maybe because I love the fashion world, though I have no part in it. The closest I have ever come to DG is a knock off I bought on the streets in Manhattan. I can barely pronounce designer names, let alone afford them. But I still think the glitz and glamour is fun.

The part that makes me crazy every time is the scene in the movie when Andi brings all the freebies to her friends and they insult her, steal her phone and make her almost miss a call from her boss, and then call her crazy. That’s the theme of the entire book. Right there. I should write book summaries.

Have you read the book? What did you think?

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10 thoughts on “Why I Hate The Devil Wears Prada

  1. I haven’t read the book, but I like the movie okay, although it stresses me out that her boyfriend was so upset with her the whole time that she was trying to “put in her time”. I love fashion, too. Since I can’t really buy it (or don’t care to, really), I get my fix from Sex and the City. They wear fabulous outfits.

  2. Watched the movie. Read the book. Enjoyed both for what they really are. A way to escape the realities of the real world for 2.5 hours. Agree with most of your points; Loved all the super sassy outfits!

  3. Never read the book–not much into chick lit. I did see the movie and thought is was, as Maura pointed out, adequate escapism, well acted and loaded with fabulous clothes (the real draw here).

    But I’m with you–I still don’t get why being successful and working hard is a BAD thing. Missed the whole point of the movie. Maybe someday someone will explain it to me.

  4. wow, glad I didn’t waste my time reading the book. The movie was an escape into a fantasy world (read: the fashion industry), but it would have been a lot more fun had I not been so frustrated the whole movie by her bad attitude and her stupid, un-supportive boyfriend. I got that it wasn’t her dream job and that she felt fashion was frivolous and unimportant. Fine. GET ANOTHER JOB then. And I know that her boyfriend was concerned that she was being abused for a job she was unhappy in. Again, GET ANOTHER JOB. It kills me that she has this incredible position in a ridiculously competitive field, and she treats it with the utmost contempt. Can you imagine what it would have been like if it had been the modeling side of the industry rather than corporate?
    Anyway, I’m with you. I thought it was fun to see the clothes, but it was an uncomfortable escape since I was constantly frustrated with the stupid characters. Oh and the friends who take the gifts and then insult and mock the gift-horse? Totally lame.

  5. sorry – I just have to add about the whole work ethic thing, since I think that was your main beef with it. They totally made Meryl Streep’s character out to be over-the-top loathesome and ridiculously demanding — even to an abusive scale. I have to wonder if anyone would bat an eye if they were talking about Steve Jobs?
    Pretty sure Donald Trump is just as tyrannical, and then some. Honestly, I think Andy got off pretty easy, considering. And then at the end to get such high approval when they call for a reference? Well, like I said before: fantasy world.

  6. hmmmm. it’s been far too long since I saw the movie OR read the book but i remember thinking that BOTH were overrated. Meryl is superb. But really, if she had been a MAN would any of this even be noteworthy? You are right. Bosses are tough . It’s the nature of the corporate beast.

    Thanks for popping up over on my blog! I love finding new blogs to bookmark too:)

  7. You make some good points, but I still love the movie! I love the music and I love her outfits. I think the show is a lot of fun, but I’ve never read the book.

  8. Ah well, I guess I’m the only male so far to post on this. Too bad that doesn’t mean anything significant at all.

    Right, I agree, the movie is highly over-rated. As are most. Though I disagree with parts of your points, and agree with others, there are just some things just wrong about the subjects at hand.

    This isn’t a movie about feminism or empowerment of anyone for that matter, it was a too real possibilty in our world. Sorry, this movie was just too real to be a fantasy, whats the fantasy? The corporate brown-nosing, an emotionally bankrupt man taking advantage of ambitious woman, the abusive leader of a degrading industry, the lame friends, the non-understanding boyfriend or the sheer naked greed of it? Sounds like reality to me.

    1) Andy dropped all of her priorities in life for the pursuit of financial success, in that I mean, she has great work ethic, hell, she’s running on the clock trying to get her boss ANYTHING ANYTIME ANYWHERE, what she doesn’t have is a good work attitude. And why is everyone insistant that her boytoy there was unsupportive? Seems to me he was very justified in being opposed to a life desicion that only brought misery to the whole cast, her included. And seriously, no one seems to take into account that even though she was present at the group get togethers, she wasn’t really ‘there’, being busy working, waiting for work, running out for work etc. She for all intents and purposes ignored her boyfriend for the whole movie except the first and last 5minutes.

    2) The boss is not justified in being an egomaniacal sociopath, sorry, feminism or not, you are so wrong, because if she were a ‘man’ as you say, it wouldn’t be overlooked. He’d be called an Asshole with a capital A, just like Donald Trump is called. Just because millionaires don’t get called that to their face doesn’t mean they are socially accepted for being violators of human dignity. Her behavoir was abusive and unacceptable, say, if instead of being the boss, she was anyone else in society, let’s say a childcare provider, I’d bet she’d be considered the nastiest person you’d ever meet, and would never leave a child in her care, and if it’s not behavoirs good enough for a child to have then they definately aren’t good enough for an adult to have. Regardless of her having a vagina or a penis, her behavoir is emotionally violent and nothing to be admired.

    3) And as for the phrase ” It makes being an assertive, successful, aggressive female akin to being the devil. ” That’s not true. The devil is portrayed often as an assertive, successful, aggressive male.

    The devil has always been considered to represent the traits of a ‘taker’ not a maker, aggressive, manipulative, demanding, unconcerned with the welfare of others. The fact it’s applied to a woman doesn’t change the problems with those behavoirs at all compared to if they were applied to a man. And even if they were socially acceptable things, they’d still be wrong.

    It’s not anti-feminist, it’s anti-jackass, if a male acted like that, which they do in almost every other role representing the devil, no one would be singing the praises of “The Devil Wears Armani”‘s boss, in fact, you’d have no problem critisizing him for how he’d be oppressing all those woman who worked underneath him and screwing anyone else who got in the way.

    So yes, the movie blows, but it’s not anti-feminist, otherwise the boss wouldn’t be successful in the end despite being as you said, a representation of the properties of satanism.
    Otherwise, Andy would be critisized by the movie for opposing her male counterpart, or stigmatized for wanting to be free to do what she wants.

    Feminism says she can do what she wants, I agree with that, but what she wanted to do and did, ended up doing little but hurting others.
    Yeah, a $1,900 bag is extravagant, but actually genuinely caring for any another human being would’ve been better than extravagant, it’d be truly altruistic of her.

    In the end, it’s garunteed that every character in that movie was flawed personality beyond acceptability, not one of them was thinking about anything other than their own feelings and desires.

    ————————-

    And as for those wondering what exactly is wrong with hard work and success, nothing, depends on what you percieve as your own success… If by which you mean succeeding in your goal of clearing all 40acres of your fields a week earlier than last year, by all means, you have enriched yourself as a person… If by that you mean making lots of dollars at the expense of your sanity, wellbeing and that of those around you… Well, let’s break it down.

    Money isn’t real, well, it’s there, but the value is a concept we all agree to apply to it. Money is a representation of human effort.
    Labour = $ one way or another.
    Money itself doesn’t do a damn thing:
    It doesn’t fold your laundry, it won’t get up and feed you, it won’t educate anyone, or do anything other than what any paper would do in the same situation if you took human action out of the equation… Sit there and do nothing.

    Money does nothing except encourage humans to commit to actions and labour.

    So it’s the human element that is responsible for all success, a human made the lovely vase on your wall, the currency did nothing itself.

    And so by accumulating wealth one is essentially storing up human labour, other people’s time, and when your wealth drastically exceeds other people’s, two things happen:
    A) There is no way to actually accumulate that much possibility from your own abilities, so the only way to exceed said limitation is to either pay your workers less than the full value of their labour and/or charge your customers more than what it’s worth. Either way, that person would be taking upon themself to say that their quality of life is important so much so that it should be obtained at the expense of others.
    B) Once rich, the thing you’d be most afraid of more than anything is being like the other 95% of us and having to live in the same way that they are condemned to because they recieve less recognition and value for the common person’s efforts than they are worth.

    So, yeah, if you live in a universe where you are the only human that matters, feel free, work hard knowing that your hard work is nothing compared to the hard work it takes to be everyone else and not even get the rewards for it like you do. And successful? If you mean reaching your goals, just fine, if by success you mean dreaming yourself to be anyone elses master then you’d be as guilty as the men who degraded abused and possessed other men and woman in the first place, oh, except that you’d know better. After all, the basic premise of Woman’s Liberation is this: ALL women deserve:
    reproductive rights
    domestic violence,
    maternity leave,
    equal pay,
    voting rights,
    sexual harassment,
    and sexual violence.

    But by that very definition of successful, equal pay is the first to go obviously.
    sexual violence and domestic is about power, being over another, and certainly, limitating other’s economic freedom in exchange for your own is about being more powerful than your neighbor. In fact, all of those premises are.

    Woman’s Lib = We are taking our power back.

    Hopefully, not just to take it away from other people. I’d think being marginalized and patronized and demonized and a victim of oppression would straighten one’s mind away from the thought of even accepting a lifestyle in the system that does this to everyone who falls into the terrible catagory of “Not like me.”

  9. Ahh.. I apologize for a serious typo:

    “After all, the basic premise of Woman’s Liberation is this: ALL women deserve:
    reproductive rights
    domestic violence,
    maternity leave,
    equal pay,
    voting rights,
    sexual harassment,
    and sexual violence.”

    —-

    Woman do not deserve sexual harrassment or any violence. I apologize because that came out wrong.

    —-

    Pt. 2. The possession of money is the possession of human time and thus the possession of human life. Because money isn’t an extra in this day and age, in order to live in this system, you need a place to sleep, thus you pay rent, thus you need a job, thus you are forced to work for money you are forced to give away in order to not break the law about sleeping on public property.
    It’s a clever alternate form of slavery, and considering:
    Average American wage = $41,334.97/year/40hours/week+vacation
    Eligible for Social Security Retirement = age 62
    average post-secondary education= 3 years.
    meaning up to 41 years of work (not including that 1 in 5 people will work until the day they die.
    That’s $1,694,733.77 per lifetime labour of approx. 80,000 hours. Not to say that the employees don’t ‘benefit’ from thier exploitation, but they don’t reap the full rewards they are entitled to, and these are lifetimes spent doing work for others, not feeding your family, or doing your own will, or even making money for yourself, instead, you get ‘paid’ to make someone else rich, they couldn’t do it without you.

    To put that in perspective, IKEA founder, Kamprad, Ingvar, age 83, in terms of his labour potential has little wealth that he can produce by his own hand, yet, with $22Billion his will on earth can be done to the tune of 12,980 lifetimes of labour, or a total of 1,038,511,199 literal hours. For a man with no time to live and hands that cannot produce a wind up clock, he gets his own way and commandeers the equivalent of 1,525 full lifetimes, considering that out of the billion hours he can buy, a human lives for roughly 672,000.

    That time doesn’t appear out of nowhere, these are a thousand lifetimes for each rich person rather than the one we are each allotted.

    It is grossly disproportionate. But that is the cost of wealth: Human lives.

    Not to say that the employees don’t ‘benefit’ from their exploitation, but they don’t reap the full rewards they are entitled to, and these are lifetimes spent doing work for others, not feeding your family, or doing your own will, or even making money for yourself, instead, you get ‘paid’ to make someone else rich, they couldn’t do it without you.

    Even the ‘boss’ knew that in the movie, she would have crashed and burned if it weren’t for her employees being bullied into submissive labour for her purposes. And labour costs only figure for an average of 30% of the cost of a product.

    In the end, the worker has been paid in cash for their time, they spend it, often much of it on the same company they work for, and by the end of their life, they submitted 80,000 hours, made their bosses $5.8Million, got paid $2Million including retirement, have only $500,000 in assets at retirement, and will spend all but $70,000 by the day they die…
    Workers give up 80,000 hours of life, for a leftover 10,000 hours, and sometimes earning their boss a leftover 10,000,000 hours during THEIR retirement.

    They just couldn’t do it without you.

  10. you are so right…I couldn’t agree more. I love Miranda’s character, you have to fight for what you want. No, it doesn’t have to mean screwing anyone over…but it does mean putting you first sometimes. Forget anyone who doesn’t want to support you in your endeavors.

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