Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Women's Anger Problem

There are dissertations devoted to the "angry young man" writer and his centrality to the culture. For artists, to be an "angry young man" is essential to becoming an important and respected trailblazer in the world of ideas. There is a value placed that sometimes borders on reverence for that anger as a forge for genius.

In men. Because it is mighty hard to imagine people standing around praising an "angry young woman" story about the injustices she experiences.  And the analogy is not quite right anyway.  Young men write their "angry" polemics because they are at the nadir of their social status and from there can see the unfairness, the small-mindedness, and the shallowness of the world (not to mention women) that gives them less respect than the older men with more experience and success get.  The young men may have the powers of mind and spirit equal to greatness, but the world can't see it and this makes them rightly angry.

Young women, on the other hand, find themselves at the apex of their social status and power. Their youth and beauty, their sexual desirability catapults them into a status equal to the older and more successful men.  They feel the status quo to be quite correct in valuing them.

An equivalent does exist, and could be called the "angry middle-aged woman." Through no fault of her own, a woman's status suddenly plummets.  But notice your own reaction to the idea of that woman venting in polemical terms.  Are you drawn to her rage or do you desire to distance yourself?  Even if you are yourself angry and middle-aged, as a woman you will probably shy from it, hoping to distance yourself from the rejection that follows expressions of female anger.

Monday, May 16, 2011

"Saw Bridesmaids with a Friend" Says It All

Over the weekend, I went to see Bridesmaids with a female friend. Whatever the quality of the movie, that statement says it all. I have never been a bride or bridesmaid, being a gal who is not really interested in that whole spectacle. So a drama about that "female" experience would pass me by. But a comedy? I'm game. Women friends acting out? Looking forward to it.

I hear women every day complain that they don't enjoy the movies they see. And that goes double for comedies. They are hungry for stories that they can relate to enough to really dive in, but they get zip, nothing, nada. Bridesmaids may not be anywhere near a perfect film, but it sure does go for laughs with women I feel like I know. Sure they are drawn in comic proportions, but these are not candy-box females (you know pink silk box, sweet, gooey filling, but no nutrition or fiber). The women are all sizes, not just stick thin. They have real faces with expression and character. Lines and freckles show. The semiotics are spectacular.

The film presents a series of hilarious vignettes and strings them together with the story. For the first 2/3 of the movie, it is the individual scenes that keep your interest. Every time it goes to the overall story arc, it loses its vitality. A couple of times I felt it was on the edge of a flatline when another scene would pop out and I'd find myself laughing out loud.

Interestingly, though I did not know going in who directed the film, I found myself wondering if it was a guy based on the overall style of the movie. The early lunch scene between the best friends where they joke about the way guys "hint" for oral sex served as a weird metaphor for how some of the "in your face" humor in the film was presented for laughs. I know, I know. You can't have a comedy both written AND directed by women....

Happily, the film story line clicks into place for the last act, and so it delivers all the satisfactions one could want in a comic film. Laughs, heart, a few tears, and some final rolicking.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Broadening Our Scope

We're expanding the reach of Broad Humor this year.  We added a Thursday night live comedy show to the plans for this year's festival.  Broad Humor is about all the ways women tickle your funny bone and so when the opportunity arose for some stand-up organizers to add their broad experience to our event, we were thrilled. (Okay, I'll stop with the "broad" puns for now.) Eventually, we'd like to have a film festival, a comedy festival, and a theater festival: all events featuring the humor of women.

So the festival will begin this year on Thursday, October 29 with a live stand-up show featuring all women performers.  Friday day we are putting together a day of workshops and panels.  Friday night we have a Belgian sex farce out-of-competition screening of "Madly in Love."  Saturday film screenings.  Sunday screenlab script readings, Legacy films and award ceremony.