Legally Blonde Too: Questioning the Aporia Surrounding the Intelligence of Elle Woods

Essay by surf100College, UndergraduateB, September 2008

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What do you call ten blondes standing ear to ear? A wind tunnel. What do you call a blonde with half a brain? Gifted. Blonde stereotypes have been circulating our culture for years and finally, someone decided to put an end to it; Elle Woods, the star of Legally Blonde and Legally Blonde 2. Proving blondes could not only be smart but be serious lawyers, the film attempts to erase the misplaced stereotype. “Attempt” is the most appropriate word because after watching the films a couple of times I couldn’t help but see contradictions in Elle’s character. Was the movie really trying to set the record straight on blonde’s intelligence? Absolutely, however, my dilemma is figuring out if the creators sought to confirm the blonde myth or oppose it. While the apparent conclusion in Legally Blonde and Legally Blonde 2 is that Elle Woods is a well-educated and successful lawyer who broke the blonde stereotype, the films themselves portray contrary evidence to the credibility of Elle’s accomplishments, creating an aporia regarding the true intelligence of Elle Woods.

Her continuing blonde behaviors, questionable legal abilities, and shaky interpretation of graduating at the top of her class add to the question, is Elle truly a “blonde?”The first film, Legally Blonde, establishes Elle’s intelligence having graduated from the prestigious Harvard Law School at the top of her class giving her the credibility she will need to enter the work force as a serious lawyer. However, her continuous blonde behavior detracts from the ability to take her seriously. In hopes of ending testing cosmetic products on animals, Elle pitches her campaign to the legal executives of the company she currently works for in hopes of gaining their backing. She winds up getting fired because her views on animal testing are contradictory to the firms. However, I can’t help but wonder if that is the true reason she is fired. She uses a homemade video which portrays her Chihuahua in silly costumes turning tricks in L.A. and selling Hollywood maps of famous celebrity homes. The video is absolutely ridiculous leading me to believe she was fired because her employer realized his mistake of hiring another blonde bimbo who’s legal work was lacking. No lawyer in his right mind would keep an employee who actually believed her dog wandered the streets alone suffering the hardships of a human ands now needed his master to speak for him. She continues nonsensical actions like writing her proposed bill as a pop-up, introducing a “snap cup” to her work environment, wearing outlandish outfits, and making illogical statements like “I taught Bruiser” (her dog) “how to shop online; I think I can handle Congress.” In need to clarify Elle’s intelligence, the climactic scene in Legally Blonde 2 gives Elle the opportunity to present her bill to Congress and really push her platform. With this in mind what does Elle talk about? Her hair. That’s right; she relays a story about going to the salon attempting to tie it in with a metaphor between her hair and democracy. Her continues blonde moments which occur in her attempts to pass Bruiser’s Bill begin to diminish her credibility of her being the savvy lawyer she was portrayed as in the first film.

Bruiser’s Bill is passed supposedly establishing Elle as a serious lawyer who just happens to have blonde tendencies, shunning any previous misgivings about her intelligence and legal capabilities. Yet, after looking at all the steps it took to get the bill passed it is apparent Elle isn’t the reason the bill was passed, she just happened to have connections with the right people. Most of her legal advice comes from the bellman at the hotel, one of the congresswomen happens to be her sorority sister, she gains the favor of another senator because their dogs are in love (and happen to be gay), and her co-worker comes up with the revolutionary idea of a discharge petition and then black mail’s another senator to gain more prestige since Elle is unwilling too. The purpose of the first film was to build up Elle’s credibility and now in this second film Elle’s intelligence is being questioned. None of the ideas are her own; the movie only proves Elle has great social skills, not great legal skills.

Reflecting back to the beginning of Elle’s legal career, the end of Legally Blonde, the first film, presents Elle at her graduation, graduating top of her class, giving a speech. This scene sets up the entire second film establishing her credibility. Applying Derrida’s différance forces me to wonder if the phrase “top of her class” was interpreted correctly. In Legally Blonde while it appears she is trying to prove she is not dumb, what she really seeks is social acceptability and if that means proving she is not dumb then that is what she is willing to do. Graduating at the top of her class could really mean she has become the top dog of the social circles. The most liked and chief leader of the upper social crest. Having finally gained the social acceptability she desired, Elle is at the top of the social tier of her class and not the educational.

Elle’s intelligence may never be solved. The fact I actually analyzed and questioned her confusing behaviors leads me to believe there must be some point to the film. Whatever the purpose, the humorous situations and phrases teach the lesson “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Elle doesn’t allow stereotypes to rule her life. No one is perfect and I’m sure if people’s lives could be deeply analyzed like Elle’s there would be contradicting evidence to our intelligence as well. I guess the film is just trying to say we’re all Legally Blonde too.