I had an interesting argument with my parents this weekend concerning the movie Bridesmaids. My parents are not super traditional and I am not a super feminist. However we disagreed pretty violently about the type of behavior movies like this encourage in our society and specifically in our young women.
My dad is a big movie lover and has been since he was a kid. Whenever a Hangover type movie makes a billion dollars in the box office he shakes his head and talks about the days when there were real men to look up to, like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. Men with character and morals. Men who were definitely idealistic, but were a standard for young boys to strive for. I definitely see his point and agree that we have a real issue right now with the priorities of our younger generations. It’s fine to have a few silly movies here and there, but when you see them becoming these monster hits you start to wonder what values we are encouraging in our society.
I also agree that in the past decade I have had a lot of trouble coming up with any leading lady that I would want my future daughter, or younger cousin for that matter, looking up to. I was not a fan of the Sex and the City ladies. I could not relate to any of them and the women I knew in my life who idealized Carrie Bradshaw and Samantha were certainly not living in fancy west village NYC apartments in a life of casual sex, Manolo Blahnik shoes and emotional stability – at least not all four of those things at one time. The lives these women led were completely unrealistic, unhealthy and unattainable. Again, fine to have it on TV but when it became as big as it did… I had to stop and wonder if it was such a good thing.
The argument with my parents surrounded this concept of female role models and how Bridesmaids and Girls are just an extension of the Sex and the City culture. I completely disagree and was surprised they couldn’t recognize the attempt at steering away from the Carrie Bradshaw character. I actually found Bridesmaids to be pretty refreshing when it came out. It was a small step yes – but certainly a step in a direction of more realistic women who are going through relatable problems, living in real life. Nothing was really glamorized. Kristen Wigg’s character acted like a jerk and paid the consequences.
My opinion is that we as a society are in transition. We are realizing finally that the women portrayed in the big budget movies that we are all seeing and being influenced by one way or another are not what we want to see. We want to see women going through real issues and having the proper emotional response to being mistreated by the Mr. Big’s of the world and not ending up with them happily ever after. I think Kristen Wigg’s movie was smart and timely. She wrote a movie she knew a lot of people would want to see for a variety of reasons and at the same time snuck in some gritty stuff about real life.
I personally think the HBO series Girls is a bit over sexualized… I don’t need to see that much awkward sex in my life – however that being said, I love what Lena Dunham is doing. Instead of jumping straight to strong female characters who have it all figured out, Dunham is bringing us through the journey. Immersing us in this awkward transition we are in, between the unrealistic glamorization and the ideal John Wayne equivalent.
TV and movies are for fun. And for most, a way to escape real life. But we can’t ignore the fact that the entertainment industry has a pretty significant influence on our society. It is a fact. I find these new female writers popping up on the scene very inspiring and refreshing. I hope we keep moving in this direction.