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My Anti-Valentine’s Day Watch: John Tucker Must Die

John Tucker Must Die is full of female solidarty and anti-romantic gestures making it the perfect Anti-Valentine’s Day watch…

Image: John Tucker Must Die (2006)

Valentine’s Day is one of those national holidays forced upon us by capitalism, and one that usually serves no purpose other than (pre-corona) making it really difficult to get a table at a restaurant on the 14th Feb and weekends surrounding it or, making you feel lonely whilst everyone uploads pictures to Instagram declaring their love for their partners. I, personally, do not celebrate Valentine’s day, unless of course I want to cash in on its capitalist nature and convince my boyfriend he HAS to get me a gift (this is usually something I wouldn’t mind having, but can’t be arsed to actually pay for myself e.g, this year it’s a graphic tablet!). So, if you are also Anti-Valentines like myself, but also cannot help but be inspired to watch a good chick flick/romcom, then I encourage you to celebrate your anti-valentines day by watching John Tucker Must Die.

I am aware that John Tucker Must Die is not a new film, and I am aware that you have probably watched it multiple times before. But have you watched it recently? In protest of Valentine’s day? I doubt it!

But if for some godforsaken reason you haven’t watched it, John Tucker Must Die is a classic chick flick that came out in 2006. The plot of the film follows a group of high school-aged young women (one of them being Ashanti!!) who are all from different cliques, and therefore do not have any interaction with each other. Until the moment they all simultaneously realise they are all dating the serial arsehole, but also the gorgeous and most popular boy at the school – John Tucker. John Tucker is a player, and manipulates multiple women by telling them what they want to hear, and making them fall in love with him so that he can use them for whatever he sees fit. This is just another reminder of why it is perfectly fine to be Anti-Valentines; because, unlike most romcoms, this film doesn’t give you that desire to meet or date someone. It’s actually a stark reminder of the reasons why, actually, we do not need to date anyone – because it’s not always as fun as it looks in the rom-coms!

The girls group together in a bid to bring him down and use new girl Kate to embody traits from all three girls he has been messing around with, to manipulate and make John Tucker fall in love, just so they can “ruin” him and break his heart. While this is obviously an extremely toxic outlook to have, it does serve as part of the “feel good” factor of this film, because who doesn’t like revenge and female empowerment? Especially when it’s directed towards (in this case) slimy men?

This development in the plot is just another reason why this film serves as the perfect Anti-Valentines watch. The whole plot of this film is based around the fact that in order to give this man what he wants, it literally has to be constructed out of thin air. What he wants literally doesn’t exist – which just addresses how unproductive it is for women to feel bad about themselves for not meeting the standards or expectations of what men, or anyone else for that matter, want. When I watch a romcom, despite having a boyfriend, I automatically start to think “omg I want that” when I watch people on screen have fun in the early stages of dating and or fall in love. And I imagine, if you are someone seeking a relationship, this can be quite depressing to watch. This film does not have that element, because as I mentioned before – what he wants doesn’t exist, so what is there to even fantasize about? This film has the opposite effect, and, in fact, can make you feel empowered for not being in their situation and in the realisation of how grossly this film portrays men.

As the film goes on, you begin to understand that this is not your usual rom-com. Instead of being about the relationships between John Tucker and the multiple women he is with, it is focused on the relationships between the women. Hence adding even more to its Anti-Valentines vibe, and allows us to enter a Galentines vibe!

The solidarity between the women is actually a really refreshing take for this rom-com, and especially for in 2006 when it was released, this was not done much before that, nor is it done that often now. Seeing the friendships develop between the women that are seemingly so different, reminds you of your own weird and wonderful friendships. And instead of making you yearn for romance like most rom coms do, this actually leaves you with the feeling that you’d much rather a night in or out with the girls. While in lockdown, an excuse to virtually meet up with your mates is necessary! Galentines is the perfect excuse to group together, virtually watch John Tucker Must Die together, and most importantly, talk a lot of shit.

However, I can’t lie and say that the ending of this film is satisfying. It is not. No one ends up together, and I know that’s the point because as I mentioned it is about the friendships formed and not relationships. But if that’s the case, why do they tease us with insinuating a Penn Bagley romance?!

Penn Bagley is introduced early on in the film as John Tucker’s younger brother and he and Kate form a friendship, but the vibes are there and you just know they should be together. But nothing is done about this! And to be honest, it enrages me. He’s the uncool underdog, that you obviously can’t help but root for, so why do they build us up to do nothing with it?

However, it does build up some angst, both against rom-coms and men, so… I guess that works perfectly for our protest against Valentine’s Day.

Written By

Elish is co-founder of The Culture Sift.

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