This article contains mild spoilers for Battle of the Sexes, which is currently playing in cinemas across Australia.
There’s nothing more satisfying than watching a self-labelled “male chauvinist pig” getting his butt well and truly kicked.
That’s what Emma Stone’s new movie, Battle of the Sexes, offers you. The chance to witness a moment in history where the good guy (well, girl) won and the bad guy had to admit that behind all of his bravado, he was just a little bit pathetic.
Battle of the Sexes tells the story of the legendary 1973 ‘Battle of the Sexes’ exhibition tennis match, where 29-year-old Billie Jean King – the No.1 ranked women’s tennis player – took on Bobby Riggs, a 55-year-old former tennis champion.
Yep, there was a time in history where the world thought a woman at the top of her game couldn’t beat a man who had long since retired from the sport.
The (oh so satisfying) match at the end of the movie is only part of the story though. To get there, Billie Jean King has to overcome her own fears and bravely lead the quiet revolution that would change the culture of tennis forever.
When Riggs (played by Steve Carell) first challenges King to the match she refuses, and instead launches the Women’s Tennis Association alongside publisher Gladys Heldman (Sarah Silverman) after Jack Kramer (Bill Pullman) rejects the idea of paying the female tennis players anything close to what the male players were earning.
In doing this King proves that publicly she’s able to stand up for what she believes in, but privately she’s unable to face the problems in her own marriage and admit – even to herself – that she’s attracted to women.
It’s only when Riggs challenges and beats Margaret Court – and subsequently announces that he’s the ‘number one women’s tennis player in the world’ – that King decides to take him on.
Throughout the film we see King slowly start to stand up for herself, as she begins to believe she actually deserves to be paid equally and that she should be able to love whoever she chooses.
Riggs, on the other hand, has no trouble believing in himself and his place in the world. He truly thinks he will beat the number one ranked women's tennis player, and he believes it's his right to bully both Court and King into the matches to prop up his own flailing career.
He has all the confidence and bravado of a middle-class white man who has never been told no.
So it comes as a shock to both Riggs and the crowd when King unequivocally kicks his ass at the end of the movie.
It's a bloody satisfying ending and one that's guaranteed to leave any cinema audience cheering.
And that's the true genius of Battle of the Sexes - you go into the movie knowing exactly how it's going to end but you're so invested in the story, you watch Carell's eccentric portrayal of Riggs, you feel every jab Riggs makes at King, you see King fighting her private demons, and you just can't wait for her to smash him on the court.
Battle of the Sexes is the perfect movie for anyone who's frustrated by the current state of the world - because sometimes we just need to see an entitled, old white man get his ass kicked.
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