If you're sick of seeing the same tired tropes happening in Hollywood movies time and again, then the news that Anna Kendrick reportedly stopped a problematic Pitch Perfect 3 plot from happening will give you strength. In an interview with Harper's Bazaar, Kendrick revealed the storyline, in which her character Beca was supposed to have a love story with a music executive named Theo, as well as her decision to fight its inclusion. (Bustle reached out to Universal Pictures, who declined to comment.)
Kendrick explained to Harper's Bazaar,
"Originally the music executive was supposed by my romantic interest, but I said no to that, because I thought that would be kind of f*cking problematic. I was like, ‘Can no one else [see it]?' Once I said it, everybody was like, ‘I guess so.'"
Though the potential love story was smartly taken off the table, higher-ups apparently wanted to sneak in at least one love scene between the two of them. Kendrick claimed, "They still wanted to have a version at the end when we kissed, and I still said no." What's impressive here isn't just that Kendrick managed to leverage her power and success to nix a clearly bothersome plot, but also that she succeeded in an industry where this sort of trope has been thriving for decades.
While, superficially, a love story like the proposed one between Beca and Theo might seem harmless, its subtext is not. Showing a young woman having a romantic or sexual relationship with a man who may wield power over her career, and with whom she enjoys an established working relationship, could undermine her achievements and talents within the movie. Furthermore, the suggestion of such a relationship doesn't allow for a strong, independent character like Beca to be perceived on her own terms. Kendrick rightfully stomped that idea out, as the trope isn't just tedious, it also feels overdone.
For instance, fans of Younger will recall the arguably problematic love story between Liza and Charles. Though Charles isn't her specific boss, per se, they still have a working relationship together within the publishing house that he sits at the top of. Sure, their situation is a lot more complicated than that, but even though he wasn't the one informing her day-to-day activities of her career, she was still a lower-level worker romantically involved with a far more powerful man within the same company. That made their power dynamic a little iffy, to say the least.
Looking further back at some other pieces of media, you can see this same problematic trope in action in shows like Mad Men, wherein the stupendously talented Joan had an ongoing affair with ad mogul, Roger Sterling — a storyline that rightfully criticized the problem of such a relationship, while also enacting it. And you can also witness it in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where Pepper Potts' immense skill-set, intelligence and subsequent ascension up the corporate ladder are completely engulfed by her relationship with Tony Stark. All of these female characters could have thrived without the crutch of a romantic partnership with a powerful man. And it's about time that movies and TV shows let women own their success and narratives — without the condescending, guidance force of a powerful man to help them.
Given the colossal revelations that have been released in the past few months of this year concerning alleged abuses of power within the entertainment industry, it feels more important than ever for this trope to be kicked to the curb. So, it's powerful to not only hear that Kendrick reportedly raised her concerns regarding this plot point, but also that she was actually heard. It should give fans hope that the movie industry is in a state of positive transition and that movies may start to reflect that.
Overall, the decision to listen to Kendrick and abandon the storyline further continues to prove why Pitch Perfect is such a beloved feminist franchise. And one that apparently won't allow for its leading ladies to be undermined or silenced. Aca-believe-it.