Psychological analysis of The Battle of the Sexes 2017

If you haven't seen this movie yet please be aware there are a lot of spoilers in this analysis. I suggest you first see this movie and afterwards read this analysis. You will understand and appreciate it much better then.

The movie is largely about the historic tennis match between Billy Riggs and Billie Jean King, man versus woman, sexism versus liberty. If people expect a lot of tennis scenes this is not a movie to watch. But it is clearly situated in the era of the seventies, with a nice soundtrack and you feel as if you put back into time/history. Very well played as well, with not over the top beautiful glossy people like you see often, but real people.

I would like to specify several noteworthy scenes, some I would say are quite memorable.

The most note-worthy scenes

In the seventies women started to get more conscious of themselves, about their lives, their rights. This growing consciousness really started in the late sixties but got to grow gradually way into the seventies. A tidal wave of divorces emerged for the first time in western history. And rightly so! The movie clearly shows how most men thought about women ('best in the kitchen or in the bedroom'), specifically in the sports world (tennis). The prize money for a women's final in a large tournament was 1500 dollars, for men it was 8 times more 12.000 dollars!

The meeting about the prize money in a men's club

Billie Jean and her friend storm into a men's club to have a chat with the chairman of a large tennis association and a fellow tennis player. First of all, one of them tries to tell the ladies that they are not welcome here (it's a men's club). It did remind me of the scenes about blacks being stopped from entering 'whites only' places. But more importantly in this scene are the reasons the two men tell these ladies why the prize money for men is much higher than that for women. Men are stronger, faster, the tennis is therefore faster, more exciting to watch. But Billie Jean counters this marvellously when saying that they draw as much spectators as the men so business wise the prize money should be the same instead of 8 times less! The two men can't beat that argument but refuse to change the situation and that forces Billie Jean King to withdraw from that tournament and announce to organize an all females tournament herself.

The hair dresser's scene: a beautiful love at first sight scene

Billie Jean and the other female tennis players go to a hair dresser's shop to have their hairs done for their big female tournament. There Billie Jean King's female hair dresser is very sensually introducing herself and it is very well acted showing a real love-at-first-sight. It certainly helps that it was shot largely close-up in which handling Billie Jean's hair is lifted to a very sensual scene. My experience with a hair dresser will be changed forever :).

There are more romantic scenes between Billie Jean and her lover/hair dresser and the movie indeed focuses much more on lesbian and gay love than shown in the trailer.

The Larry King hotel scene

Billie Jean King's husband Larry, shows up unexpectedly at her hotel room in which her lover friend sleeps as well. Larry finds a BH in the bathroom and suddenly realizes that his wife is different, lesbian. This painful realization is played very nicely and you really feel sorry for him and Billy Jean as well. It is a short scene but you can tell both have loved and still love and respect each other a lot. Not much is said and that is also the power of this scene.

The scene in the locker room after the match was won by Billie Jean

Beautifully played by both Emma Stone and Steve Carell. Billie Jean bursts into tears, having won and enjoying her victory, not only on a man but most importantly for equal rights for women and realising she has to come out of the closet. Show the world that she is lesbian. Billy Riggs is disillusioned and just sits there silently, all alone. However, his wife shows up (after they were on the brink of a divorce) and he smiles. Later it becomes clear they got together again and renewed their vowes.

The Battle of the Sexes is truly an iconic equal rights movie: equal rights to women, to gays, to lesbians, to transgenders to the statement that everyone has a right to love whom he or she wants. It clearly shows how awkward and prehistoric prejudices about the sexes are, especially in sports. Then there was a lot of sexism around, but even today we still have too much sexism. Luckily we have twitter now and the revolution is spreading with actions like #MeToo.

This tennis match was a historic event, shown on prime time American national television and watched by an estimated 90 million people. It was a turning point for women's rights in sports, especially in tennis. 

It was also really nice to say the real pictures of the real Billie Jean King and Billie Riggs at the end of the movie.

A very serious topic brought in a very sensual and moving way, at times even funny. The whole atmosphere of this movie was very loving, kind and funny. I think it is certainly an underrated movie so go see it!

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