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question of the day: Should women feel obligated to buy a ticket for ‘Bridesmaids’?

I’m seeing a lot of stuff like this — by Mekado Murphy at the New York Times blog ArtsBeat — around the Web, and it’s pissing me off:

Does the future of female-driven comedy rest on on how well “Bridesmaids” fares at the box office? Writers around the Web are standing up for the film, hoping it will lead to more projects and opportunities for funny women in Hollywood. In her review, The Times’s Manohla Dargis praises the screenwriters Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, saying they “know what female moviegoers want: honest laughs with, and not solely about, women.” She added that the film offers “irrefutable proof that along with producing and starring in a hit TV series (thank you, Tina Fey), women can go aggressive laugh to aggressive-and-absurd laugh with men. All they need, beyond talent and timing, a decent director and better lines, is a chance.”

In an article for Salon, Rebecca Traister writes about a group of people who believe seeing the film is a social responsibility and cites a mass e-mail she received from her acquaintance Emily Bracken that read, “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.”

Now, I do want movies about women that are not are vapid romcoms or about shopping, but I don’t see Bridesmaids as a step in a positive direction. Because although it does feature some not-vapid-romcom and not-shopping stuff, none of that stuff is why the film is getting a big Hollywood push — it’s getting that because of the grossout stuff, and it’s getting all the attention it’s getting because of the grossout stuff. Take away the grossout and the comedy-of-humiliation stuff that has been the absolute backbone of the big-budget Hollywood comedy for the past decade, and Bridesmaids is an indie produced for $5 million and never plays beyond New York and Los Angeles. I don’t want to see more movies like Bridesmaids, not about women or men, and I can guarantee you that buying a ticket for Bridesmaids will be interpreted by Hollywood as “women want to see grossout comedies,” and not “women want to see more movies that aren’t vapid romcoms or about shopping.” If Bridesmaids is a roaring success, we will start to see vapid romcoms with some grossout thrown in. We will see Sex and the City-type movies with vomit.

Of course, anyone who does find Bridesmaids funny and wants to see more movies like it should buy a ticket and let Hollywood know they want to see more like it. (Though the irony with movie tickets is that you don’t know till after you’ve voted with your wallet whether you like the movie and want more of it!) But the notion that women should support Bridesmaids merely because it is about women — which is the tenor of much of the coverage taking this angle — is preposterous.

What do you think? Should women feel obligated to buy a ticket for Bridesmaids?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)


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