Theme Layout

Boxed or Wide or Framed

Theme Translation

Display Featured Slider

Featured Slider Styles


Display Grid Slider

Grid Slider Styles


Display Trending Posts


Display Author Bio


Display Instagram Footer



© 2015 mo'adore | Content and design by Morag Lee | Powered by Blogger.

Is Tracy Flick a feminist?

If you've spoken to me in the last two months about films, you'll know I'm going through a 90s phase. Specifically, films aimed at 90s teenagers who I was born a decade later than.

One of those films was Election. A 1999 dark comedy starring Matthew Broderick and a young Reese Witherperson as they fight their way through a high school election. Tracy Flick, Witherspoon's character and main antagonist, is that high school brown-noser we have all known. She is top of her class, always shoves her hand up first, is involved in multiple extra-curricular activities and feels entitled to success. She also struggles to make friends because no one can stand her.

We have all known a Tracy Flick

She's a character that is definitely interesting from a feminist angle, and I could feel my brain performing some critical analysis while I was listening. Turns out I'm not the only one. Even though the film was released before the internet was mainstream, many articles have been written on her character, posing the same question I'm asking with this blog. Journalists even compared her to Hillary Clinton (and Chris Klein's character, Paul, to Barrack Obama - more on that later). This is even despite the film being a box office bomb (but acclaimed by critics).

Tracy definitely wasn't scared of any glass ceiling. Which sadly, even in 2017, is still something to applaud and admire. She worked out the value of hard work very young, thanks to an encouraging (even slightly zealous) mother. I didn't do badly in school, but I definitely could have applied myself more than I did and taken a leaf out of Tracy's book. She was willing to go above and beyond to get good grades and plump out her college application - embarrassingly I didn't realise that a willingness to go the extra mile was one of the secrets to success until I started full-time work. We can learn a lot from the ambitious Tracy's of the world.

But reading all the required texts and putting 120% in every essay she wrote wasn't the only tactic Tracy was using. Tracy was also felt entitled to success and was willing to stick her elbows out to get it (sh'd be a textbook Capitalist Feminist). When she first finds out that Paul Metzler is running against her (she was previously running unopposed) she storms over to his election table and demands to know why. We see clips of her in the classroom where she isn't allowing other students the chance to speak. If you've seen the film, you'll know the scene where she rips down her opponents posters in the school halls in a fit of rage. All because two people chose to run against her.

I want to live in a world where women get ahead as equally and easily as men. I'm under no illusion that this is not yet the case. But I also want to live in world where people get ahead and promoted based on talent and hard work - and not because they ripped down someone else's campaign posters or stuck a straw up the manager's ass.

Tracy is also a job snob 

This quote probably sums up her attitude perfectly:

Now that I have more life experience, I feel sorry for Mr. McAllister. I mean, anyone who's stuck in the same little room, wearing the same stupid clothes, saying the exact same things year after year for his whole life, while his students go on to good colleges, move to big cities and do great things and make loads of money... He's got to be at least a little jealous. 

Since when is teaching seen as a low-level job? It requires a lot of training and is an important role that society requires. Ambitious Tracy types require good educators to get the ball rolling. As I get older and have more life experience, I've become even more disconnected with the idea that there are "real job" and "jobs". Or that being an underachiever or non-ambitious is a bad character trait.

We also see her at the end of the film working with a politician: a Republican no less. Ahem.

But let's take a step back from looking at Tracy as an individual and look at her place in wider society - and how that society influences her behaviour. Sexism still exists in schools and workplaces, and women do need to fight harder to be heard and get ahead. Tracy perhaps knew this and adjusted her behaviour to suit. Here is another quote from the film:

You might think it upset me that Paul Metzler had decided to run against me, but nothing could be further from the truth. He was no competition for me, it was like apples and oranges. I had to work a little harder, that's all. You see, I believe in the voters. They understand that elections aren't just popularity contests. They know this country was built by people just like me who work very hard and don't have everything handed to them on a silver spoon. Not like some rich kids who everybody likes because their fathers own Metzler Cement and give them trucks on their 16th birthday and throw them big parties all the time. No, they don't ever have to work for anything. They think they can just, all of a sudden, one day out of the blue, waltz right in with no qualifications whatsoever and try to take away what other people have worked for VERY, VERY hard for their entire lives! No, didn't bother me at all!

While this quote also demonstrates how self-entitled Tracy is, it shows how socially aware she is. She recognises that not everyone is born equal and how successful someone becomes is largely down to accident of birth. I'll speak more on Paul Metzler later, but he wasn't very ambitious but was a likeable good-looking white guy from a rich family - the demographic that gets a head start as soon as they're born.

Then there is the capitalism system that we work within. It encourages a survival of the fittest mentality, so it's no surprise people sharpen their elbows for success. Especially if they belong to a disenfranchised group.

Remember, this film was made in 1997 long before feminism and social justice were mainstream topics. Tracy was already recognising inequality that wouldn't get widely spoken about until two decades later. Girl was ahead of her time - and a little feminist shall I say.

But she isn't the only character worth speaking about from a feminist angle 

Throughout the film Broderick's character, Jim, tries to sabotage her election (and future career) success. He's otherwise popular with the students, but he has a long term grudge against Tracy. Part of this is because she's annoying. But the other part is her student-teacher affair with Jim's best friend, Dave. Dave lost his job and wife because of the affair but Tracy got off unharmed and her involvement in the scandal remained a secret.

Statutory rape is statutory rape. Tracy may have been a willing participant (as it was depicted in the film) but teachers shouldn't be finding students who haven't finished puberty attractive. It's not said on camera, but Dave looked like he was in the late 30s or early 40s - what on earth someone in that age bracket would find attractive in a teenager I do not know.

Jim then goes on a mission to ruin Tracy's future. He is the one who talks popular Paul into running in the first place. He even throws away pro-Tracy ballot papers so that Paul can win the election. I don't like Tracy Flicks as much as the next Jim, but I've never tried to stop one from getting ahead. By trying to sabotage her election chances he was proving himself to not be any better than her.

And then there's Paul Metzler (said I'd eventually get to him) 

He is a popular jock guy. Genuinely lovely student. He would make a great boyfriend. But class president? Not so sure. He's that male who gets ahead and is well liked just by being present. Though, despite not being as ambitious or hard-working as Tracy, he certainly has much better people skills. Anyone who was ever went outside their house to navigate high school and adult offices knows that good interpersonal skills are also a major factor in how well you'll do in life (both professionally and socially).

The media compared Barrack Obama to Paul Metzeler in 2008. Obama is definitely likeable and probably does have a better moral compass than most other politicians, but he wasn't exactly experienced when he first ran for President. Hilary Clinton (and even Sarah Palin) was definitely more qualified.

But my favourite character in the whole thing? Paul's sister, Tammy. She also runs for Class President to spite her secret ex-lover, Lisa, who starts dating Paul and becomes his campaign manager (that's one awkward love triangle, though Paul isn't aware).

Because she's right. My experience of pupil councils at school (I was even on it during my fourth year) is that they don't really change anything and people only run to impress universities. I wasn't that heavily involved in school extra-curricular activities but I was heavily involved in societies at university - and I'm not even going to deny that I was looking for CV boosters (and a way to avoid coursework).

Honestly, Tammy Metzler is probably the only feminist role model in the entire film (in a weird way).

Share :

RSSGoogle Friend ConnectBloglovinFeedly

Follow moadore on Snapchat!

Recipes, love letters and general chit chat can be sent to

Follow @moadore