I saw the movie “Bridesmaids” last weekend, and it was pretty hilarious. It was raunchy and vulgar over the top, and also heartwarming and realistic and a little sappy. There will probably be spoilers in this post. Just letting you know.
I liked a lot of what I saw in “Bridesmaids”. I liked Annie and Lillian’s friendship. They seemed like real people who really liked each other and who talked about real things (and really funny things), and who also sometimes did really stupid things and then got really mad at each other. I liked the jealous friendship dynamics, with Helen being so annoyingly perfect and Annie worrying that she would stop being relevant in Lillian’s life. I liked the really bad sex. I really liked watching Maya Rudolph take a crap in the middle of the road in a wedding dress.
There were a few things I didn’t like. Annie’s interactions with her roommates were sometimes really funny, but I don’t like seeing weird people just portrayed as weird without any redeeming qualities. I feel like those portrayals probably encourage people to make snap judgements about anyone they meet who acts/looks/talks differently from what they expect. I also agree with Amanda Marcotte that there were a few too many scenes of Annie feeling sad and down on herself and not enough scenes of everyone else being amazingly amusing together. But the things I didn’t like only bothered me a little bit, and they were definitely outweighed by the things I did like.
There are many discussions on the internet (and probably in non-cyberspace too) about how much of a feminist win this movie is. I would say it’s a pretty big feminist win, not because it intellectually or philosophically or even practically deconstructs the patriarchy (it’s the kind of movie that features a woman taking a dump in the middle of the street, for crying out loud), but because all of the main characters are women, and they are all fully realized, three dimensional characters with believable personalities that include both strengths and flaws, and they talk to each other about things that matter to them and that advance the plot and that are usually not boys. Is it kind of pathetic and really frustrating that a movie that features several women who are real people rather than plot devices, love interests, or stereotypes counts as a feminist win? Yes, absolutely, but that’s just how crappy things are for women in movies. (Disclaimer: I don’t watch a whole lot of movies these days, partly because of how crappy things were for women when I watched more of them, so it’s possible that things got better without me knowing. However, most of the trailers that I’ve seen and many pieces that I’ve read on the internet tell me that this is not the case.)
On a slightly different topic, just to be clear, when I say that “Bridesmaids” is realistic and that the characters are real people, I don’t mean that every action a character makes and every event in the movie is one that I would be unsurprised to see in real life. Like I’ve said and alluded to a few times, it’s an over the top comedy. The way Annie behaves when she’s drunk on the airplane is not the way most drunk people behave, at least not the ones that I’ve seen. I also can’t really imagine anyone actually ruining a party the way she totally destroys her best friend’s wedding shower. But in both of those cases, the feelings behind her actions were real and easy to relate to, and her actions were exaggerated for comedic effect. I feel kind of silly explaining what I think is a pretty obvious part of comedy, but some of the commenters on the posts I linked to didn’t seem to get it, so I guess it’s important.
I wouldn’t necessarily say that seeing “Bridesmaids” is a social responsibility, but I can see why some people might call it that. If you like toilet humour, sex humour, slapstick humour, or stupid humour, you should probably see “Bridesmaids” because you’ll probably like it, but also because it’s good to support movies about women that are actually funny so that more people make more movies like that. If you don’t like toilet humour, sex humour, slapstick humour, or stupid humour, you probably wouldn’t like “Bridesmaids”, and I don’t think you need to see it just to be supportive.
There are all sorts of stories floating around the news machines about Arnold Schwarzenegger and the fact that he had a kid with a woman who was not his wife about a decade ago. I don’t really care about this (except maybe for the fact that part of his campaign for his position as California Governor was apparently based on how much of a problem it is that some kids have parents who aren’t married to each other, and I think hypocrisy sucks), so I haven’t been paying much attention to it and I really don’t know any of the details. But there’s one thing that I want to say about it.
I don’t like it when people say “love child”.
It might be because, when I was a kid, someone told me that calling a kid born out of a brief affair a love child implies that people in long term romantic relationships aren’t actually in love with each other, and that that’s a harmful stereotype. It might be because I think it sounds kind of silly. It might be because I always hear it phrased like, “She had this guy’s love child,” and I don’t like hearing about women having other people’s kids, as though they’re just vessels that hold babies for nine months and the babies really belong to the fathers. Maybe if people said, “These two people had a love child,” it would bug me less. Anyway, I’m not sure what the reason is, but the term bugs me.
I don’t know the etymology of the term. Yahoo answers tells me that it was coined by Diana Ross and the Supremes (in their song “Love Child”) to show that kids who are born out of wedlock are still loved by their mothers. (It doesn’t say anything about how their fathers feel about them.) I guess that’s a good thing, and it’s certainly better than calling someone an illegitimate child, but that only makes it kind of better for me.
Maybe my real problem is that I don’t think we need special names for kids based on the kind of relationship that their parents have or had. If someone says, “I had a baby with this guy, but he didn’t want anyone to know so he paid me a bunch of money to keep me quiet” (or something like that; I know that’s not how it always happens), that might take a little more breath, and might be harder to fit into a catchy headline, but at least it doesn’t say anything about the actual kid. It doesn’t send the message that the identity of the kid is somehow different because their biological father is not a part of their life.