I believe the genesis of this movie is that someone read Susan Faludi’s book Backlash, and instead of taking away the intended message (that misogynist Hollywood entertainment is for assholes and suckers, and therefore is wrong), came away with a closely related but absolutely wrong message (that misogynist Hollywood entertainment is for assholes and suckers, of which there are many, so it’s a wildly profitable enterprise to be indulged at every turn). I can just see it. Some Hollywood executive reads Backlash (or has an assistant read it and summarize each chapter as a one pager), and thinks, hey, this Faludi lady is right. Sexist audiences lap up movies that posit that women are bimbos, movies that posit that women are literally obsessed with babies-and-weddings, and movies that posit that women are psychotic. How about a movie that combines “Fatal Attraction” and “Baby Boom”, with lots of tulle thrown in to catch that big time bridal demographic?
But it is not enough to insult women with these horrible stereotypes about women being too stupid to breathe and too shallow to realize that weddings are about marriage and not dresses. Oh no. They have to add insult to injury by putting the actresses out there to tell us how empowering it is to have movies that reduce women to brainless shrews who are so invested in being princesses that we’ll happily throw that rare thing—a good friendship—out the door. (And that we have such shrunken hearts that our husbands are nothing but props in a pageant.) Tammy Oler documents the atrocities. Anne Hathaway relinquishes the respect I had for her by pulling the “girl power” excuse to explain why clawing out your best friend’s eyes over a fucking “perfect” wedding is so empowering.
But what it actually does is that it brings you to a new place of freedom where she’s admitting to herself that she wants more for herself. She wants better for herself and that leads her to make an incredibly difficult, but ultimately wonderful decision to take control of her life and to be more present in it and to be more demanding and to set boundaries with people, be stronger and more confident.
This is when I wish I was Twisty Faster, because I could dispense with this empowerfulment crap with brisk ease. If there are in fact self-confidence boundaries put up between women and being screeching twits whose limited imaginations allow only to think of weddings and how they represent the patriarchal stamp of approval delivered to your virgin-white chiffon ass, I don’t see them. It’s not self-confidence to just own that misogynist stereotype. The Bridezilla trope exists in our culture precisely because it reinforces our belief that women want nothing more (or should want nothing more) than to grab that brass ring of male approval that comes with the diamond ring and the white dress. Until you’re inducted into the club, you’re nobody. Considering that the wedding is your official entrance into the human race, we snicker indulgently at women who go too far. Goodness, nothing more can be expected of them, right? They’re mere women, who are mental children and whose acceptance in society in contingent on their ability to lure a man into marriage. No wonder they act out, we think. The Bridezilla isn’t, and can never be, an image of a strong, empowered woman taking what she wants. It’s the image of a child going crazy because she’s being overindulged and given responsibilities too big for her child brain to handle. It’s not a coincidence that the first shot we see of the women in this preview is of them as children. The fantasy hasn’t changed since childhood, because women don’t change or grow from their childish state. They just get big enough to legally fuck.
Kate Hudson’s remarks made me sad:
We are a little guilty of going a little crazy sometimes and getting stressed out. I think that at least for me women are great at being self-deprecating and making fun of themselves and we don’t get the opportunities as actors, as a female comedienne, to do that that often because there aren’t really that many female driven comedies.
It’s true that there’s few roles for female comedians, and therefore many feel compelled to take on roles that demean women and really aren’t that funny, because they don’t relate back to real life in any honest way. But that doesn’t make these roles good ones, and having the actresses out there defending the crumbs they’re getting and calling it a meal is just adding more insult to injury.
Rubbing salt into the wounds of sexism doesn’t make it funny. It’s really kind of sadistic. Like this bit of dialogue, culled from the WaPo denunciation of this crap:
Those who will nod along with Candice Bergen, as wedding planner Marion St. Claire, when she tells the newly engaged Emma during their first planning session, “You have been dead until now.”
Emma whispers in reply, “I understand.”
We are supposed to think that women have all the power in these situations, because they do all the planning and men are mere props in the game. But really, that’s not how it goes in this narrative, not really. After all, men carry with them that all-important power, to whip out the ring and rescue a woman from the horrible non-life of the spinster and grant her entrance into the land of the living. The reason men don’t really have personalities in these stories is not because they’re of secondary importance at all. It’s because they fill the role of the gods in this story, and as gods, they must seem slightly distant and above it all.