Funny business

With the release of Bridesmaids and Tina Fey’s book Bossypants there’s been lots of talk about funny women lately. Here are some of my responses and gripes.

  • Women are funny.
    Period. Moving on.
  • Can we stop bemoaning the Chick Flick?
    Much of the time our media suggests that what’s normal is a white male perspective. Matt Damon and George Clooney and Seth Rogan and Tom Hanks will tell us the stories of our life and men and women are expected to shell out the cash and be the grateful audience. But when a movie is all about Sandra Bullock, watch out! Chick flick alert! Suddenly the viewership is cut in half (at best) and industry and audience women alike get screwed.

    I know that this isn’t groundbreaking news. I just urge everyone to consider what’s so inherently terrible about woman-centric genres. What if you looked at what they have to offer instead of immediately eliminating them as options for what they do poorly? What if you think about what you actually dislike about the qualities associated to the genres you avoid? (Tip: You can do this with “man movies” too.) I’m not claiming to know everything—I have to push myself to step back and think a lot. I just think we could have more fruitful conversations if we stop thinking in Love/Hate, Mine/Yours dichotomies.

    Truth: My husband loves Grey’s Anatomy. I know many a man who can quote Gilmore Girls with the best of us. *I* was the one who initially refused to watch either of these shows because they looked too silly and girly and dumb. Boy, was I wrong.

  • Tina Fey is not a unique snowflake.
    She’s one of many hilarious, multi talented, strong awesome women in the world. Have you listened to your aunts and grandmas lately? That stuff is gold! I’m getting really tired of every magazine and every talk show holding up Tina as the great white hope. Yes, she’s amazing, but come on, spread the love, people. There are other women of many shapes, sizes, colors, class and orientation. They are just as hilarious if not funnier and they are getting no press. Oftentimes, those who fawn over Tina discuss the hardships of women in comedy. Well, guess what? Comparatively, Ms. Fey doesn’t have it so rough any more. What if the media focused on showcasing or giving a break to other women in comedy? What if you tried to become a solution to the problem instead of reminding us how bad it sucks out there for the ladies? I realize this is probably too much to ask. Still, I ask it.
  • Bridesmaids is funny.
    It is not The Hangover with women. It is its own thing, okay? I’d say it’s a pretty spot-on representation of female friendship and insecurities. The women are flawed, but smart and talented. They aren’t brainwashed by the bridal industry, or the patriarchy or feminism for that matter. They engage with each of these ideologies, but they do so like fallible but self-aware human beings. I’ve seen many a thread about this film not being feminist enough—that it doesn’t deserve the buzz or the praise it’s receiving. If the women in the movie didn’t make mistakes, didn’t fall for the wrong men, didn’t have problems, who would be able to relate to them? The genre of the film is light, summer fun. Bridesmaids does a great job of being itself without getting too preachy or too stuffy. If you don’t like vomit, burp and fart humor, well, then god bless you, you are a better person than me and this film is not for you.
  • Go ahead and hate, haters.
    People in Hollywood are in the business of selling themselves. It makes sense to think that actors and famous/public figures shape their personae according to the market—women are not exempt from this. While you’re hating Jessica Simpson for being dopey, Kathy Griffin for being annoying, Wanda Sykes along with a reeeally long list of women for being bitchy, I’m thinking, wow, that woman knows how to do her job effectively. These women are laughing their way to the bank while you’re laughing at them in your knock-off Louboutins.
  • Whatever you think or have thought about her before, read Roseanne’s New York Magazine piece concerning her TV fame.
    “And I Should Know” by Roseanne Barr paints a pretty hideous picture of what it feels like to be a woman in the entertainment industry. There are many times in Barr’s story where I think, “wow, I would have backed down. I couldn’t have taken that.” Women are funny, period. Sexism is still alive and disgustingly well, exclamation point.
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Comments
3 Responses to “Funny business”
  1. Kate says:

    This was a great post! There have been a lot of articles about funny women lately, which is really nice to see. These are both pretty interesting:
    http://www.salon.com/entertainment/tv/feature/2011/05/12/funniest_women_writers_internet
    http://splitsider.com/2011/01/why-more-women-should-write-comedy-a-mathematical-but-not-boring-study

    Also, in the Barr piece, I pretty much died when she described Clooney beating the chocolate number 1 the network sent her with a bat. I found a whole new level of respect for her when I read that.

  2. ana says:

    thanks, i hadn’t read this one yet. i’ve gotta say that with all the female comedian bios that i’ve read, i’d be terrified to apply, let alone get a job, with an all male writing team. it sounds very alienating and sometimes awful. however, i’ve also seen more positive experiences on the radar lately too.

  3. Mark Cauley says:

    Ana, you seem to be protesting, but the article doesn’t really posit any specific enemy of what your defending. You didn’t use a single example to substantiate your gripe. Yet, you claim that sexism is alive and well. Without clear cut evidence, I feel like you are merely playing the sexism card. Do you suggest your audience should just take your word for it? I feel like SOME women have this as their default response. Do your think that there might be any truth to that?

    I personally do not think Wanda Sykes is “bitchy.” If I had said that, that would mark me as a sexist. She is ornery, to be sure, but it’s usually with justification within the scene. Shes tough, she’s nobody’s fool and she doesn’t take crap from anyone. Rosanne is of a similar vein, but just to a much stronger degree. But she has undoubtedly been a bitch many times before.

    The male comedians you mentioned, Matt Damon, George C., Seth Rogen, etc., are not really comedians. The first two are not comedians by choice, but by some odd quirk (Or genius money making scheme) they are compelled to take the ‘goofy’ role – and fail. Seth Rogen, however, is insufferable. Hes like the 17th funniest person at a frat party. If it wasn’t for his heinous, unpalatable speaking voice, he would be utterly non-descript.

    While there isn’t many female comedians on t.v., there is an enormous list of unfunny men on television. The list starting with said, Seth Rogen, George Lopez, Drew Carey, Jay Leno, Craig Ferguson, Tyler Perry, so on and so on.

    Kudo’s to Tina Fey for making it in the industry. However, she is severely limited comedically, and is routinely shown up by the other main female star, Jane Krakowski. I rarely here women talk about Jane’s role, so are they too guilty of not recognizing true female talent? My feminist, doctoral candidate girlfriend agrees. I mention her leaning’s and education to give her opinion a little more credence since it works in these academic circles. We both love 30 Rock. However, over watching the first three season, we both giggled at something Tina said maybe a total of 6 times. The person caught laughing WITH Tina, is immediately called out and ridiculed, mocked – it’s a game. We have both been guilty, and clearly mocked by the other but again, this guilt is minimal, as is the surprise of Tina saying something genuinely funny.

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