Thank god for “Bridesmaids.” Not only is it a hilarious, mad-cap comedy; one of SNL’s greatest cinematic successes in too many years (“MacGruber?” C’mon.) and a heart-felt best-buddies flick, it pulls this all off with a wickedly talented female ensemble. I laughed, I cried and I felt an estrogen surge that I can only imagine is akin to the supernova of hormones a woman gets as she explodes into menopause.
So of course, the question is: Why is this important? Why does anybody give a damn? Don’t we live in a post-racial, gender neutral society where success is based on the merit of your abilities and not on your downstairs mix-up? If we were talking about politics or being a CEO, then I could see where you were coming from, but in comedy? I’m afraid to say it, but we just aren’t there yet ladies.
Yeah, maybe I’ve read “Bossypants” and maybe I think Tina Fey is right. (If you haven’t read it yet, go, do it, and then come back for the rest of this post.)
But I also grew up as a girl who spent all of my spare time watching every ounce of programming on Comedy Central and every “One Night Stand” on HBO. I felt the burn of silence as I sat in a circle with my older brother and his friends playing Magic cards only to send out a joke and watch it incinerate and die. And when I finally figured out how to say something funny without being the most hated person in the room, I heard, “Hey, you’re pretty funny — not like most girls.” AND THEN, one time, I had a very good friend tell me that being funny is an evolutionary trait that men developed to lure women as their mates.
Well guess what: “Bridesmaids” just called bullshit on Darwin.
And the film goes beyond just being pee-yoself-funny in content. It is self-referential to the very point that I’m loosely making now. In the movie, we see Kristen Wiig’s character — an independent, funny, do-it-herself kinda gal — being the type of woman that many of us see ourselves as. She’s tried very hard to make something creative and genuine out of herself despite some meager beginnings. She’s trying very hard to make us believe that she doesn’t depend on men, though she would like to have one who doesn’t want his cheeks spread as much. And she does her best to care and nurture her relationship with her best friend.
But she absolutely HATES the woman — “Helen” — who is able to do these things by just buzzing around on the coattails of her family’s fortune and her hubby’s monies.
So what do we do? Obviously we root for Annie (Wiig). We hope Helen dies in an unfortunate hairspray explosion and somehow Annie can get John Haam and that hot cop to both fawn over her AND that she gets to go to Paris. Annie is every girl dying for somebody to notice how great she is, too. She is us and we love her for it.
But by the end of the film, what we see is that Helen is, too. She’s just the Laura Miffleton of your group. (That reference is just for my friends. But I mean the seemingly perfect one with the tiny waist and huge boobs who you find out has to touch all of her joints before she goes to bed. She has issues too, man.)
And so the bottom-line does NOT become the underdog woman winning by her virtues, but that all of us as women can stop making ourselves out to be the underdogs. That succeeding by putting each other down is as outdated as wearing shoulder pads to try to become a man. That learning that women are funny — and in our own awesome way, funnier than men — is a lesson for every body.
Once upon a time, I was part of a production crew for a 30-minute holiday variety show called “Sean Connery’s Christmas Extravaganza.” I was also the co-host. I played Catherine Zeta Jones alongside my best friend in 9th grade, Lauren Maceross, who played Sean Connery. For three years, we cast our friends for the day-long shoot, wrote our own sketches and put it all together on a home video camera. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done.
Because of some weird inner anti-female thing, I stopped being friends with Lauren in 11th grade. It feels strange to say it, but I still count that as a regret.
What I would say to her and all of my friends who I was ever a “bad” friend to now (and far too late) is that I’m sorry. I’m sorry I ever ditched going to the zoo with you for going to the gym. I’m sorry I wasn’t there when you really needed the key to your apartment. I’m sorry I wasn’t your roommate. I’m sorry I forget all of your birthdays on Facebook. I’m sorry I blamed you for being distant when you were struggling with an eating disorder. I’m sorry for any time I wasn’t there.
What’s awesome about “Bridesmaids” is that it reminded me — not only — so much of my friends that I cried the entire time, but also that they’ve mostly all forgiven me for the exhausting list of stupid shit that I’ve done.
So thank you all for coming, my friends, and enjoy “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips, because the real video clip from the end of the movie doesn’t exist on YouTube.