Chick-Shit, Part I

I just spent the afternoon at the movies, where I’m fairly certain the tab for parking, popcorn, and the actual film will wind up costing more than I drop on dinner. But this isn’t a post about the high price of low culture. This is a post about Bridesmaids, which everyone, including many feminists, are calling a breakthrough feminist movie.

This is not a feminist breakthrough movie. This is hardly a feminist movie, actually, since the primary story arc is about a woman who loses it all—fails at owning her own business (a bakery! what a great girl job!), fails at being a maid of honor (doesn’t have the party planning chops) fails at being a salesperson, gets kicked out by her clearly “loser” (but not as loser as she is, hahaha) roommates, and has to move in with her non-alcoholic mom who has such low self-esteem that she attends AA meetings for inspiration and finally meets a man whose eyes sparkle when he remembers that she made such a delicious artichoke dip—but, in the end, finds a great man who rescues her at the end of the night.

See, ladies, even if you are an insecure bundle of raw nerves wrapped around a huge passel of fail, a gem of a guy will still love you enough to rescue you.

It must be noted that women wrote this film, and star in it, which in this day and age is rare. Too rare.

So rare, in fact, that we are willing to bleat about the whole film being a feminist breakthrough just because women get food poisoning and barf on each other.

The film is decidedly unfeminist in many ways, including fat-shaming. Megan, played by Melissa McCarthy, is called by Mary Elizabeth Williams of Salon the “dirty-mouthed, overconfident sister-in-law to be.” I read that review before I saw the movie and found myself suspicious that overconfident was MEW’s gloss on the character. As in, overconfident because she is fat, and everyone knows that fat girls will strike out if they hit on a guy, which is one of the scenes showing over and over on TV and in the movie’s trailer. Megan fills the role of the girl who refuses to accept her place and gives free rein to her impulses and appetites, food-related and otherwise. She delivers the one feminist speech of the whole film, although she delivers it while wrestling the unwilling, confused, and somewhat frightened protagonist, which certainly detracts from the seriousness of it.

Which, on the one hand, is fine, because this is a comedy. More on Megan’s character in another post.

As a comedy, the film works. It’s fine. Pratfalls are not the sole province of any one gender, nor are fart jokes or “poo” humor, as too damn many people are calling it.

But it’s scatological humor, people. Let’s use our big-girl words, OK?

I was disappointed by this movie. I went not expecting an uplifting feminist experience, but at least expecting something that went beyond the tired humor of men just wanting sex and women just wanting men, especially husbands, to stop wanting so much sex. Beyond the very tired humor of newly- or never-married women imagining that marriage will solve all problems making out with married women who are stuck in loveless relationships with horrible children and absentee husbands

Truth? Feminists are not opposed to humor. Some are even funny. I, myself, am a fucking nonstop laugh riot.

My husband will confirm that fact. If he ever wants to have sex again. Amirite, ladies?

Feminism is both qualitative and quantitative. If we’re talking about giving women an equal number of chances to write, produce, and/or star in big productions that get box office push, then Bridesmaids is a step in that direction.  But if we’re talking about a movie that speaks to women without falling back on stereotypes in a predictable way, that refuses the easy laugh of making fun of the fat girl, that acknowledges that entire movies can be about women without featuring a wedding of any sort, then we’re not talking about Bridesmaids. Sadly, I’m really not sure what movie we are talking about in that instance.

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4 Responses to Chick-Shit, Part I

  1. Claire says:

    The review I heard on NPR said much the same. It was a chick flick with Apatow jokes thrown in. I feel leery of it now, but probably should see it. Meh.

  2. Bill Shirley says:

    I think you got it right in the last paragraph. None of the talk I’ve heard about it came close to pretending it was a Susan B. Anthony Biopic. The talk was “women writers”, “women actors”, funny. From the previews it looks much better than the average SNL cast comedy.

    A quite interesting article (from a site I despise: HuffPo): “Why Bridesmaids is Important“.

    • nonsequiteuse says:

      No one heralded it of being serious feminist cinema, but “feminist breakthrough” was used over & over. There was even a social media campaign (grassroots? astroturf?) encouraging feminist women to see it so it would get good numbers and increase opportunities for future films. It could have, with a few tweaks, been a much stronger feminist statement while still being hilarious, gross, and appealing to audiences not inclined or interested in looking at it from a feminist perspective. Maybe a group of us will have to redo it, kind of like that Raiders of the Lost Ark redo, but making it overtly feminist. I’ll just go ahead & say it – I have come pretty close to rocking the bowling shirt/pearl necklace/practical sandal look. I could pull it off.

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