“Emotions are dumb and should be hated!” – Bender Bending Rodriguez
I have another blog that’s HUGELY popular and read by millions and it surely going to be made into a feature film soon. I rarely get messages anymore about it but for a couple months in the “middle” I got some messages from women (allegedly, it’s the internet so who knows?) that expressed that they didn’t like the way I was writing a female character at all. But I have also gotten a couple messages in “support” of the way the relationship between the female protagonist and her female sidekick is portrayed. I never really thought about it until the other day.
Buddy comedies and buddy action flicks are very common. They were so ubiquitous at one point that even parodies of the genre became cliché – that’s some full cultural penetration right there. The protagonists are generally two dudes, sometimes a dude and a lady, but pretty rarely two ladies. Although I realized after a moment that a big part of that is because movies with female leads are just less common overall – you can’t have two female leads without having one female lead. That’s just math folks. So I started thinking about buddy lady movies. The first thing that came to mind is Bridesmaids. I love that movie. I even bought it on DVD if you can believe that (and remember what DVDs are).
Thinking about it, the dynamic between the two buddies is different than the standard buddy shtick – the crux of the plot is that their friendship is threatened by the changes going on in Lilian’s life. They have an emotional issue they need to work through, which they do hilariously, but that’s generally not the arc of a dude buddy comedy. The dude buddies might get mad and yell at each other at some point but their friendship is never in jeopardy and that’s not what’s driving the plot anyway – they’re traveling through time for a school project, or they’re trying to get across country to deliver a baby, or they’re trying to get home for thanksgiving, or they’re solving a murder, etc. What they’re not doing is trying to repair their friendship – maybe in an indy drama but not in a REAL movie.
So my first thought was “well that’s gross, when they make a buddy lady movie it’s all about feelings and girly stuff” but my second thought was that maybe I was being very mannish about that (you know since I’m so manly and masculine) maybe there’s nothing wrong with that at all. Maybe that’s exactly that a lady buddy movie should be. Maybe what would be wrong is making a buddy picture with two women and having it be the same as one with two bros. Then my third thought was that maybe right or wrong doesn’t matter really, what do I want to see?
I’ve often been quoted as saying that I don’t think women and men are really THAT different, but I’m probably wrong about that. Maybe if you made Lethal Weapon with Zazie Beetz and Scarlett Johansson and made is basically exactly the same as the original Lethal Weapon didn’t have a decent portion of the movie about the emotional core of their friendship maybe that would be ridiculous. But then again, does a movie like Lethal Weapon have any duty not to be ridiculous? I mean its Lethal Weapon.
Thelma and Louise is probably the archetypical (in as much as the word applies) lady buddy movie, and it too is significantly different than your standard buddy picture – the main gist being that the lady buddies have been mistreated by men and are now striking back. Or at least that’s what I remember, I haven’t seen it in decades. Kind of a weird movie for a 14 year old to watch maybe, but what was I going to do NOT watch everything that was ever made? I suppose that’s not TOTALLY dissimilar from the buddy picture standard of dude getting dumped by his lady and so he and dude #2 go on a road trip to do whatever.
The only other lady buddy movie that comes to mind is The Heat, which uses the old plot of doofus and diligent (or goofus and gallant if you prefer) forced to work together and they hate each other but end up as grudging friends. I feel like lady buddy movies are much more likely to go that route than to just have two women be friends normal style. Is that some kind of deal where men think that all woman are catty and mean to each other? Maybe.
I never saw Booksmart, that looked like maybe it was just about two lady friends doing stuff. But it was marketed as the female Superbad which always annoys me. I hate when something is presented as “it’s a version of this other thing that was popular!” – for a while there everything was “It’s like Game of Thrones only BLANK!”. Also I’m probably at least 20 years too old for that movie. Also Superbad sucked. I’d rank that as my #1 movie where the trailer looked great and the movie was lame.
Anyway, what point am I trying to make here? Am I trying to make any point? Not really, I’m just writing down my thoughts. No, actually I guess I do have a point – three people, two of whom might be women, told me that I wrote a relationship between two female characters that was nuanced and very complex and realistic and fantastic (why words not theirs) ergo I should be the king of feminism and be placed in charge of all media. And if you think feminism shouldn’t have a king you’re the one that’s wrong.
In conclusion Ocean’s 8 wasn’t very good.
Booksmart was somewhat decent but not quite as good as I was hoping for. I’m sure you’ve never watched Downton Abbey, but I’ve been re-watching it recently and am finding that after a few seasons of tension, Lady Violet and Mrs. Crawley become the equivalent of lady buddies.
I watched one episode of Downtown Abby (as it’s known) and was repeatedly shushed because I asked a lot of questions – it’s not a good show to jump into the middle of.