Bridesmaids As Feminist Victory? That’s An Argument That Needs Help
3:00 pm, January 24th | by Hillary Reinsberg
With Oscar nominations out this morning, would-be critics are back on the year’s most tired claim: Bridesmaids! A raunchy comedy by women, for women! Let’s get one thing straight: we thought Bridesmaids ruled. We laughed the whole way through. Because it was a damn funny movie about getting drunk on planes, pooping your pants, and destroying life-size cookies. It’s just funny stuff. Although women wrote and star in the movie, those jokes would be funny if we were gender blind.
Even Oscar-nominated Kristen Wiig, who wrote the movie, doesn’t want you to call it the chick flick that could. As The Guardian wrote in November:
Wiig does not claim feminist dividends for the film – that it allowed women actors to be as gross on screen as men. She says when she and Mumolo were writing the s****ing-in-the-street scene (“Can that be the title of the piece?”), it wasn’t with an eye on levelling the playing field, nor was there much discussion of whether the market would tolerate that kind of vulgarity from women. No.
In countless interviews, Wiig and her colleagues echoed the sentiment. They were proud of their kickass movie, but they weren’t proud that they were women who *OMG!* made a funny movie with girls in it.
Another thing: why isn’t anyone talking about The Help? Where Bridesmaids got two nominations, The Help got four, including best picture. Like Bridesmaids, The Help features a large female cast and was a well-received box office hit. So why’s there such a lack of enthusiasm for those nominated women?
If you need proof, here’s women-in-business site The Grindstone‘s headline: “Finally! Oscar Recognizes Women In Film With Screenplay Nomination For Bridesmaids.” In Jezebel‘s item: “hell yeah: Melissa McCarthy! Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumulo!” Yet no mention of The Help.
What’s the deal here? It seems like we’re so shocked by seeing women get a little raunchy that we declare it a victory for feminism. But stellar portrayals of life as domestic help or even as a lady who lunches don’t impress us much? That’s not good.