From the moment Peppy and George are thrown together in The Artist, they're vying for the spotlight. Part of their "will they/won't they" allure is driven by their competing star qualities—they both shine pretty brightly.
Their gender difference works to Peppy's benefit. The 20s and 30s were all about the "new woman," the flapper, the independent single lady, making bank without the help of a man. With his popularity waning, George's self worth and market value take a nose-dive.
The power struggle between our two leads is plumped up by their chemistry, but ultimately George has to get over his macho tendencies, let Peppy care for him, and follow her lead to make his way back on screen.
Questions About Competition
Do actors have to be at least a little self-absorbed to make it big?
In its treatment of the competition between Peppy and George, is The Artist a feminist film?
In the stairway scene, Peppy is positioned above George in the shot, going up the stairs. What are some of the other filmmaking techniques used in the film to demonstrate that these two are in competition?
What are Peppy and George really competing for? Wealth? Fame? Happiness?
Chew on This
The movie shows that competition is healthy and important. It drives the characters to do their best.
George is unable to deal with Peppy's success because she's a woman…and younger than him.