I’m just gonna come out and say it: thank goodness for television. When you examine the television landscape, you easily notice that it’s populated with an array of smart, talented women. Mary Louise Parker, Laura Linney, Tina Fey and others before them like Carol Burnett and Mary Tyler Moore have all proven that women can carry comedy on television. And yet for some reason, there is still nowhere near the same level of respect and work for actresses in big screen comedies. Why is that?
While she may have become the Queen of bad romantic comedies, I respect Katherine Heighl for always speaking her mind, notably in her infamous 2007 Vanity Fair interview. In the interview, Heighl talks about how in her comedy Knocked Up, the men got all the funny parts while the women did little more than nag and roll their eyes. People gave Heighl a lot of slack for that interview, but what I want to know is what’s so wrong about Heighl wanting to have good material for herself?
Can it be possible that in this day and age, people still think that women working in films’ only worthy quality is their sex appeal? Is it possible to detect intense sarcasm when it’s written down?
The really sad part of all this is that some people have the balls to argue that women aren’t funny, period. The same year that Heighl gave her interview, Christopher Hitchens wrote one of the most blatant pieces of misogynic trash I’ve ever read, entitled “Why women aren’t Funny” in which he argues:
“Why are women, who have the whole male world at their mercy, not funny?… The Chief task in life that a man has to perform is that of impressing the opposite sex, and Mother Nature (as we so laughingly call her) is not so kind to men… Women have no corresponding need to appeal to men in this way. They already appeal to men, if you catch my drift…my argument doesn’t say that there are no decent women comedians. Most of them, though, when you review the situation, are hefty or dykey or Jewish…”
Where do I begin? In the immortal words of Liz Lemon, Hitchens can eat my poo. Not an insightful and intellectual response to the article, you say? Perhaps. But as Hitchens seems to argue, I am incapable of creating funny thoughts because I don’t have a penis and my goal in life isn’t to bang a bunch of chicks. Maybe if I was “hefty, dykey or Jewish” I’d have more of a chance at a witty comeback. Jesus.
After reading articles like that one, I am even more pleased at the success of this year’s completely female driven big screen comedy Bridesmaids (produced by Knocked Up director Judd Apatow, maybe it’s time for Heighl to make amends). It’s a shame that it was marketed as The Hangover for women because while the films both revolve around a wedding, they couldn’t be more different.
Bridesmaids‘ real focus is on the complexities of female relationships and the film doesn’t have a melodramatic or overly sappy bone in its body. Co-written by star Kirsten Wigg, the film has a fun, honest edge to it while getting just as ridiculous as any Seth Rogen comedy.
It may be shocking for the male population of the world to know, but women do poop and fart as well; and we can make pretty damn funy jokes about it. Hopefully the success of this film will encourage the studios to show how funny women of all shapes, sexual orientation and religion can be on the big screen.