Bridesmaids begins with a walk of shame. For the protagonist, a legitimately funny woman who kind of looks like Meg Ryan, it’s an embarrassing exit after being kicked out of bed by a fuck buddy (except they aren’t buddies), having broken his prohibition of sleepovers. If you’re a man, the walk of shame begins when you ask for tickets to Bridesmaids. You know that, as you drag your feet into the theater, everybody is looking at your whipped ass with disdain, thinking “I know a vet who could remove your balls much less painlessly.”
But such derision would be misplaced! Bridesmaids is a funny, if disposable movie. Clearly in the top quarter of the Apatow influenced/produced/molested by films I’ve seen and better than the first half of Hot Tub Time Machine. Moreover, it’s the antithesis of the nefarious “Sex And The City” franchise. In addition to the blond, the film is full of the rarest birds of all: funny ones.
That got me thinking as to how all of this was possible. I’m not one of these people who is just willing to join in pretending that Tina Fey or Sarah Silverman is very funny merely for the sake of being fair and balanced. So, why did these women have me laughing out loud? Obviously, women are less funny than men in general. But was it really the case that half a dozen inherently funny women, including the writer, were somehow found for this one film, while maybe a full dozen were found for every other film released this year? I think the reason these ladies suddenly became so funny is that they so freely surrendered their dignity.
One of the many things that makes “Sex and The City” so excruciatingly unfunny, and so appealing to women, I guess, is that it presents a delusional vision of what women are. Sexually care free, emotionally clean, independent, able to have babies at sixty-four and for that to be a responsible decision, particularly when single. But the vast majority of comedy is born out of the real humiliation of who we are, not fantastical projections of better selves. Ralph Kramden was funny because he thought he was an undiscovered business wizard, but was actually a massive pigeon. Homer is funny because he is every foible a man can have, crammed into one man. Laurel and Hardy, Dumb And Dumber, etc. are funny because when you put the two stupidest people on earth together, one of them will regard himself as “the smart one.”
Biology and society conspire to put women in a state of humiliation. They’re supposed to be sleek and clean, so they keep their bodily functions hidden. They want to be independent, but they exist primarily through relationships and that creates a neediness. It seems like we should all be able to have a good laugh at their inescapable plight, but it never seems to work out that way. I think there’s a some sort of sociobiomarketing barrier to realizing this vein of comedy. Women thrive on being idealised, well past the point at which everybody involved knows that lies are afoot. The other reason “The Simpsons” is so good is that it contains every truth of our existence. Observe:
In this case, just imagine that Homer is some sort of media/advertising executive and that, instead of mowing the lawn, he is imagining Marge buying diet microwave dinners and clothes she will never wear. Also, I think there’s an ad for Super 8 glued in there, so I feel like I have a moral obligation to express my opinion that Super 8 looks horrible.
I also thought of this while NPR was telling me about how all the famous female politicians predictably came out against Congressmen Weiner for cheating on his wife. Like, as women, it is their duty to go out of their ways to publicly endorse the pretense that powerful, rich, famous men don’t step out on their wives somewhere between 100% and 100% of the time. Men and women are the same and they should be equally prone to monogamy in all cases, because that’s how women wish things were. Or maybe that’s how they wish they wished things were. And that’s why the pantsuited, female politician is the least funny kind of person there is. Even clergy occasionally get laughs, though they are graded on a curve… A Laffer curve! But it’s impossible to laugh with Pelosi or Bachmann. We can only laugh at them, either directly, or as portrayed by Amy Poeller, another female comic who isn’t afraid to play a boob.
So, if it isn’t obvious, my explanation for most romantic comedies and other crap geared towards women is that marketers figured out that ladies like to be flattered. Even in more broadly marketed stuff, like a typical sitcom, we have come to expect that the female characters will be the smart and reasonable ones. They’re usually better looking than their spouses/neighbors/siblings as well, which is partially so male viewers can ogle them, but not entirely. And this is the story most people tell in their personal lives too. “Oh honey, you’re too good for me.” The only exception is, of course, when that narrative actually obtains. The ugly loser dating the hot girl is the only one telling his woman that she’s a piece of shit whom he might dump at any second. Always, anything but the truth.
In fairness I should add that there’s more social preasure on women to maintain a certain level of propriety at all times. It takes a lot of balls for an actress to participate in a joke about having cum in her hair, and even then it has to be because of some kind of hair gel mix up, not because some guy ejaculated on her. So I guess in bizzaro world, Ericha is writing a review similar to this one, but it’s about the normalization of porn and the desanctification of Gaia. Why can’t there just be a comedy about a woman who has four abortions, then has octuplets and wins the Nobel prize for football? But Ericha probably just on the rag again, so ignore her.
So apart from the two obvious reasons–men being smarter and men having to work harder to impress mates–I think that’s why women have historically sucked at comedy. Comedy is mostly about tearing someone down and women like being built up. Understanding this aspecect of femininity–the need be agrandized to absurd extremes, makes for a lot of the comedy in the film, as the fatuous edifices constructed around the greatest triumph of womanhood are a key subject of ridicule. In other words, this is a womans movie that candidly takes on the stupidity of wedding ceremonies. But it doesn’t ruin the occasion for the characters or viewers. If someone like, say me, had the chance to go after weddings, it would be an unending and quickly boring spree of malice. But the key to success here is understanding and articulating why something you love is idiotic without pulling any punches, but still loving it. Movies like Army of Darkness, Hot Fuzz and The Naked Gun come to mind. So I feel like Bridesmaids is more like Hot Fuzz for women than The Hangover for women.
– The profits will inspire, but the imitators won’t get it. Over the next two years, expect to see ten movies that are just like every Kate Hudson movie, but with diarrhea.
– While I can’t take anything away from particular actors, when I see secondary roles going to the same “Reno 911,” UCB and “The Office” actors over and over, I feel frustrated on behalf of the unknown comedic actors who might have landed the part in a fair competition, but were defeated by networking. It’s like how I feel for some faceless black actor who will have to give up after another good part goes to a rapper. However, I was kind of stoked to see the guy from “The IT Crowd.” It’s an English show. You’ve probably never heard of it.
– Also, I watched some of Kick-Ass. I skipped to about the 85 minute mark and just started from there. I think I was able to piece together what was going on pretty well. Except, why was everybody wearing costumes and attacking criminals? I found it pretty entertaining and almost watched to the end.