“Bridesmaids” Continues to Quietly Challenge Conventional Wisdom
This post is a part of the “Out of the Kitchen” weekly column in which various news and pop culture items will be examined through a feminist lens.
The initial reaction is to shrug it off and wonder, “Who cares?” However, the fact of the matter is that there is a reason that this statistic is making news. Right under our noses, “Bridesmaids” is challenging much of the conventional wisdom surrounding popular cinema.
There are a lot of assumptions made about women and comedy. Just off the top of my head, I’ve been told:
- Female audiences naturally prefer romantic over R rated/raunchy comedies.
- Women just aren’t as funny, so movies featuring female comedic leads won’t resonate with most (ie male) viewers.
- The R rated comedy genre is a territory marked for men.
The Hangover, Borat, Wedding Crashers, and American Pie have all been used as “proof” of these claims. Each of these storylines are primarily created for and about the young, male demographic which has long been viewed as the “most coveted” of groups to reach. In fact, “…The thinking goes, today’s young adult men are tomorrow’s powerbrokers and moneymakers, and investing to win their loyalty now will pay dividends in the future.”
The result has been a marginalization of funny women and their stories. However, with “Bridesmaids” the proof is in the numbers. Women (and all movie goers, for that matter) spoke with their money and threw these stereotypes out with resounding force. Sure, Judd Apatow made his bread and butter on hugely popular male-centric movies like The 40 Year Old Virgin, Superbad, Talladega Nights, and Knocked Up. However, his most successful film is now one which is both undeniably feminine and hilarious. That’s huge.
And make no mistake. The success of “Bridesmaids” will have ramifications. As Melissa Silverstein said back in May at the beginning of “Bridesmaids” initial theatrical release, “If this film does well it could mean we could see more funny ladies onscreen. If it doesn’t, god help us because we will be stuck with romantic comedies for years to come.”
So good news, Melissa! The past two months have proven positive for those of us looking for a comedic alternative to the boys’ club. Because Hollywood, like any big business, responds to the voice of money above all else, more genuinely female films will be funded. More funny female written scripts will be noticed. And more R rated comedies with authentic female characters will be made. With any luck, we’ll get a little more Kristen Wiig and a little less Katherine Heigl.