Why Treat Hollywood Flick 'Bridesmaids' Like a Feminist Triumph? It's Just Not That Good
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Bridesmaids is apparently a big deal. If we don’t all go see it, there will never be another movie made about women again. Or something like that.
There’s a Facebook site called “Why Bridesmaids Matters” and a whole campaign to get women, and the people who like them, to go see it. The rhetoric gets pretty frantic:
“I encourage each and every one of you to see ‘Bridesmaids’ this weekend, not just because it’s hilarious, but because we MUST show Hollywood that women DO want movies that are not vapid romcoms or something about shopping … A lot is riding on this movie. So please bring your girlfriends, boyfriends, husbands, and neighbors out in droves.”
Rebecca Traister of Salon explains what all the fulminating is about:
“What’s motivating this campaign is simple: Hollywood studios do not make comedies for or about women anymore. Yes, they used to. As recently as a few decades ago, when comedy stars like Lily Tomlin, Bette Midler and Goldie Hawn stalked through theaters alongside supporting players like Teri Garr, Carol Kane and Madeline Kahn, bringing us movies that were sometimes sublime and sometimes disposable, but which had women at their heart. Think ‘Private Benjamin,’ ’9 to 5,’ ‘Outrageous Fortune,’ ‘Down and Out in Beverly Hills’…”
Yeah, it’s come to this. People looking back on the rotten films of the 1980s as some kind of golden age of comedy and female stars. Jesus! Bette Midler movies! Has everyone forgotten the misery of Bette Midler movies?
Anyway, these campaigners can all relax. It looks like the movie’s doing well. Most reviewers are gibbering with ecstasy over the film. Here’s Dana Stevens of Slate working herself up into an embarrassing frenzy:
“Hallelujah and praise the Lord for Paul Feig’s Bridesmaids (Universal), a movie we’ve been awaiting for what feels like forever. At long last, we have a smart comedy with dumb jokes—a giddy feminist manifesto that responds to the perennially circulated head-scratcher ‘Can women really be funny?’ with a whoopee-cushion fart.”
Doesn’t make you want to rush out and see the movie, does it? Professional film reviewing has gotten so inherently repulsive, it’s lucky nobody reads it anymore.
So, is Bridesmaids a “giddy feminist manifesto”? No. No, it is not. It’s a perfectly ordinary movie, funny in spots, about a bunch of women caught up in the throes of a wedding, and the maid of honor (Kristen Wiig) who’s having a colossal midlife meltdown with grotesque consequences for all.
What everyone’s flipping about is the physical comedy stuff, because apparently this is the first comedy to show us that women can be crass and venal and crude and stupid and live inside earthly bodies. The very, very first comedy ever. If you don’t count the entire silent slapstick comedy tradition, I mean, which had female stars like Mabel Norman and Marie Dressler.
Or the screwball comedy genre featuring pratfalling, comically competitive women stars like Carole Lombard, Rosalind Russell, Katharine Hepburn, Claudette Colbert, and Irene Dunne.
Forget Mae West, who was so raw she helped get the Production Code of Censorship enforced in 1934.
Definitely ignore The Women in 1939, which skewered the witless, brawling, sex-obsessed reality behind the facade of the upper-class “lady.”
And don’t even get started about 1959′s Some Like It Hot, in which two cross-dressing men trying to hide out in an all-female band overdo the ladylike behavior to the point that the other band members are cautioned to watch their language and stop telling dirty jokes around “the new girls.”