Does the future of the intelligent “chick-flick” REALLY ride on Bridesmaid’s shoulders?
Probably. All signs point to yes. But why?
Salon‘s Rebecca Traister has a great article about the subject, with some reasonable (and true!) arguments – that the chick flick is on the MPAA’s Endangered Species list; and female consumers need to show their support. She points out that women are just as happy to attend “guy” movies – action flicks, superhero movies – while men will staunchly refuse to attend anything having to do with women as they find it emasculating. Jezebel also has two articles out about how the film got “Apatowed” – i.e.; more gags about bodily functions – and how the stakes are “high for the funny girl movie.”
All of these articles are right. Bridesmaids represents something more than just a comedy for women – it is a smart, intelligent movie with fully formed female characters that are real people you can relate to. But my question is why is it such a shock that a hilarious, touching movie would be – gasp! – successful just because the cast is primarily women?
Now, of course – I understand that males ages 18-49 are the target demographic for a vast number of movies. I know that they come out in hoards with their friends to nerd out about comic book characters and epic action scenes – hell, most of the time I’m right there with them.
But why is it so shocking that women are funny, or have the capacity to carry a movie? Why is it listed as a major triumph every time a woman makes big bucks at the box office? We’re human beings, too. Ovaries don’t suck all the humor out – just because we have lady bits, we’re still people, with human emotions that everyone can relate to. And the fact that the media has hyped this up to this degree puts so much pressure on one movie – albeit, an amazingly hilarious and wonderful movie – is a different kind of disservice to women and the female comedy.
There are all kinds of hilarious women out there, of great movies of stories of women waiting to be written and be told. Hollywood may be one of the last vestiges of American Society where sexism is still completely acceptable – under the guise that male actors are more talented, or better able to carry a whole movie. This is essentially a euphamism for the idea that women just don’t belong on-screen in deep, meaningful roles; like the ones in Bridesmaids; and instead belong in stereotyped versions of themselves.
While Bridesmaids is an amazing movie that all women should see, it’s not because it is their “duty” – but instead because if is incredibly well written, acted, and produced. Sure, the film is a giant leap forward for the intelligent female comedy – it blends together moments of emotion with an unbelievably hilarious cast and crew flawlessly – it isn’t fair to place the weight of the future of cinema geared towards women on its shoulders. Women are in-depth human beings, and deserve to be treated as such. One movie can’t possibly encapsulate all of the intelligent “chick-flick”. There’s much more progress still to be made. While Wiig’s performance and script (that she co-wrote with Annie Mumolo), and the performances in a fantastic ensemble cast should be heralded as a step forward for women in cinema, they are not the end-all-be-all. There’s still progress to be made.