When I think about powerful female screenwriters, the first one who comes to mind is Kristen Wiig. Known mostly for her legendary 7-year tenure on Saturday Night Live, Wiig also managed to write and star in the wildly popular movie Bridesmaids during her time on the show. Co-written by her friend Annie Mumolo, Bridesmaids is a film made by women, for everyone. Although the film is centered around women, it has the special quality of appealing to not only women but also men, and has become a must-see for its hilariously raunchy non-gender biased comedy.
Debra Zimmerman noted, “the real problem is not how do we get more women working in Hollywood, but how do we get films that represent women’s visions out” (Zimmerman 264). This was exactly Wiig’s intention with creating Bridesmaids. “We didn’t set out to make a movie for women. We just wanted to write a comedy that has a lot of women in it. Judd [Apatow] is a producer so hopefully people know its not going to be this sweet girly movie about women fighting over shoes. Funny is funny.” From the average looking cast with their largely au-natural makeup, not to mention their crude behavior (let’s not forget the bathroom scene), Wiig certainly wrote the film from the refreshingly relatable viewpoint of women.
While most films centered around women these days focus on a woman’s adventures in enticing a male, or longing for a male counterpart, Bridesmaids focuses on the friendship between women. By doing this, Wiig reminds us of the importance of friendship between women, a theme that nowadays is widely buried under male-female relationships on screen. Zimmerman noted that “Sometimes what’s most feminist is the thing that doesn’t stand up and shout feminism” (Zimmerman 265). Wiig does a great job of doing this in Bridesmaids because while she emphasizes the power of women without the reliance on men, the movie doesn’t leave viewers thinking “oh, that was so overtly feminist.” Wiig just comedically demonstrates the power of the woman, without intimidating or putting men to shame.
Another issue that Zimmerman points out is, “A major problem, even today, is convincing men that films by and about women are important” (Zimmerman 265). Wiig voiced her own experience with this issue in one particular video from the movie screening, in which she expressed her distaste for people labeling Bridesmaids a “female comedy”. Wiig argued, “The fact that its called a female comedy, its just a comedy that happens to have women in it”. Wiig has a point– male centered comedies are rarely if ever labeled “male comedies”, so why should women have it any different?
One very important thing to note about Bridesmaids is that it has an almost entirely female cast. This, along with the fact that the writers are both female, give the film an uncommon opportunity to be shown through a female perspective. Not so often do we see films about women, and when we do, they are written by men, so at the end of the day when we go to movies we are almost always watching women through the male gaze. This, along with the fact that the bridesmaids in the movie do not resemble your typical movie star slim, cookie-cutter beauty, makes the film very much relatable to female viewers. The binge drinking, not-so-sensual sex scenes, and puking and pooping scenes only add to to our relatability to the characters– while also showing that these are behaviors of both men and women, and therefore shouldn’t just be reserved for male dominant movies.
Grossing $26 million in its opening weekend and $288 million worldwide, Wiig’s vision for making a comedy about women was certainly well received. I think that the success of the film really lies in Wiig’s passion for emphasizing the power of the woman through her depiction of women in the raw and (relatively) uncensored. What women want to see in this male dominated society is someone they can live through, a character who can give them a release if only for a couple of hours. Women need to be able to feel like they can be crazy and unstereotypically female and it be okay. Bridesmaids allows for this, and hopefully many more films will follow suit to help spread the important and widely ignored message of female empowerment in the movie industry.
Chozik, Amy. “Kristen Wiig on ‘Bridesmaids’, Improv, and Funny Women”. Wall Street Journal. 6 May 2011. Web. 30 April 2014.