I felt an urgency to write about this movie, because I was totally offended by it and I pretty much cried all the way through it. Maybe because I have felt like a “Duff” most of my life and I think that there are many people who can relate to that feeling.
High school movies generally have the same formula. Popular girls rule the school and they are mean and make someone’s life a living hell for just being them. Through what is a formula that is a hero’s journey usually at the end, they have gone through trials and triumph at the end to usually win the guy, and the validation of the school at large and the awful girls pay the price.
I think “The DUFF’ takes this to a whole new level. Because it specifically targets someone’s looks.
Mae Whitman plays Bianca the honor roll student, cult movie fanatic, who is by every means totally awesome and someone I wish I could find as a friend. She has two best friends who are themselves not in the mainstream one of them is a hacker but the two friends she have are beautiful thus making Bianca their “Designated Ugly Fat Friend.” It’s important for me to note that her two friends do not consider her this and without giving away the whole movie, they are not the ones who make life hell for her.
Her next door neighbor, her polar opposite, and yet someone who she grew up with Wesley Rush played by Robbie Amell gives Bianca the revelation that she is a DUFF. Of course her learning this is, changes her view on everything, including her own friends. They strike a deal, she helps him with his grades and he helps her out of being a DUFF status.
Through this journey together, she is humiliated, viciously by super mean girl Madison played by Bella Thorne and her posse via cyberbullying/Stalking. Until the last 20 minutes of the movie, there is not a moment in this movie where I don’t feel totally uncomfortable and really sad. In order for her to not be a “DUFF” she must conform to traditional beauty standards. There is practically zero consequence to these mean girls who seriously cross the line in bullying. These types of situations are what plague student hallways, and there has been a shocking consequence in teenagers taking their own lives. It’s not a RomCom, and the message of” lets just except that everyone is somebody’s DUFF” is stupid, mean spirited, cruel and not true. The idea that you need to have someone in your group of friends who is less attractive so by default, makes you look better. No matter what they are like on the inside is not a message that should be promoted on any level, not to women and certainly not to men. Beauty is very subjective and some of the most beautiful people in the world are also the ugliest.
Self worth is entirely your own to cultivate. There will always be someone shooting down your dreams, your looks, your intelligence. They are not the people who decide WHAT you are worth. They are the noise, the attempted poison of your soul. I wish that this movie had a strong message like that. It did not. I do not want my teenager watching this movie, I wouldn’t want anyone who could be influenced by its message watching it because the majority of it, is just mean.