In the Future, Feminist Comedy Will Include Men
The night I saw Bridesmaids I had to go to two different theaters. We got to the first theater too late, and the show was sold out. Fortunately, we managed to make it to another in time for the next show. This was not opening night. This was a couple weeks after. For a comedy both written by and starring women, Bridesmaids not only did well, it did well in a way that rarely happens for women. Add in that the comedy had some seriously raunchy moments – certainly not standard fare for the “fairer sex” – and Bridesmaids becomes even more unlikely. While it’s practically par for the course to have a movie about women and a wedding, it’s not nearly as normal to have the bridesmaids get violently ill all over each other – and in a high-end bridal store. That’s what we loved about it. It might not seem like much of a win, but for women to have proven success in such a male-dominated arena like comedy, and to have it in a very stereotypically male style (gross-out humor), makes it a big win indeed.
This makes me hopeful that the world of comedy isn’t lagging too far behind behind the rest of the women’s movement, though there is ample room to move ahead. Women are underrepresented in much of the entertainment industry, and comedy is no exception. While I would love to see more women behind the camera, what I would also love to see is more female-driven storylines. More Bridesmaids and less Bridezillas. Beyond this though, I also want to see men moving into female-centric roles.
Feminism isn’t just about women being able to become engineers, or write fart jokes, it’s also about men choosing careers in traditionally female areas, like elementary school teaching. It can also include men being funny in these areas. If women are no longer seen as the second sex, then what we do should be valued equally. (Yes, I know we are still seen as the second sex, but a great way to win hearts and minds is through art, comedy included.) We’ve had some films in which men assume family caregiver roles, but they are often laughing at the female role, and not from it. What we need is a smart comedy where the male characters are funny for reasons that don’t demean the female aspects, but use them. Why not have Will Ferrell and Will Smith star in an emo-friendly, dialogue-driven (think Woody Allen) comedy in which they desperately try to get married before some arbitrary deadline? Or how about an ambitious Jason Schwartzman balancing work and family as a single dad? Or Zach Galifianakis trying to break into the female-dominated world of day care? Why not have gender-bending comedy that’s also socially enlightened? There are a lot of talented writers and directors out there who could certainly pull this off, a lot of whom are women.
Image from http://www.salon.com/2008/04/25/baby_mama_2/