the magazine of the columbia daily spectator
May 1 2013
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April 27 2013
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Red Bull and relaxation
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Back to the kitchen: A short journey through sexist pop culture
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Bikinis and big booties, y’all
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Azealia Banks Did What?
April 5 2013
More stories from Columbia’s military veterans
April 3 2013
Sing, O Muse, of some sappy story
April 1 2013
Missed the Cliterary Open Mic? Check out the highlights here
March 29 2013
Sex & Low Beach
A few weeks ago, a friend sent me a link to the trailer for Bachelorette—the latest buzzed-about summer comedy. Along with the link, a message: “I thought this would pertain to your interests.” Now, whether she meant “the way women are represented in media” or “chemical-fueled disaster-shenanigans in post-midnight Manhattan,” I can’t be sure—but either way, I ended up chipping yet another 80 minutes off my life to watch it. Though the film’s plot is fairly predictable—a wedding looms, everything goes wrong until it doesn’t, characters start flawed and end less so, etc.—the particular twists and turns of Bachelorette’s tale did make me think about a noteworthy comedy trend, one I both appreciate and wonder at—one I think can most easily be termed “Ladies Getting Gross.”
Because we are—gross, I mean. We drink and drug and belch and bleed, talk frankly about sex as readily as we’ll talk about our feelings—and it’s not hard to imagine that a major reason we would ever feel obliged to act otherwise comes from the omnipresence of pristine media examples, women whose ickiest jams include misfired text messages and spills on their empire waist floral print.
Recently, though, some welcome challenges have jumped into the mix—most notably with last year’s smash hit Bridesmaids, which features the now infamous scene of an entire bridal party explosively soiling their gowns with poorly digested Brazilian food. Though the film is plenty enjoyable in and of itself, it seems that a large part of its success came from its implicit recognition of this void in the comedy sphere—the oft-untapped gold mine that is femalehood in all its sometimes grody glory.
Next to capitalize, it seems, was HBO’s Girls, which, though silly and problematic on a plethora of levels, can certainly be lauded for moments of crude clarity—e.g., a scene in which the perennially put-together Marnie follows flirtation by masturbating in a gallery bathroom.
Of course, this is not to say that this device has gone historically untouched—far from it. Take, for example, the scene from Larry Clark’s 1995 film Kids, in which makeup-less, frizzy-haired teens swap cigarettes and locker-room-style banter—or 2002’s gal pal flick The Sweetest Thing, the climax of which involves Selma Blair in a tracheal jam with a Prince Albert piercing. Ultimately, though, it’s hard to deny that between these shining examples lies a no man’s land of Animal Houses and Superbads, movies in which women may occasionally partake, but it’s the boys’ debauchery we’re following.
And still, even these newer offerings raise some questions. For example, I can’t help but notice a recurring theme of token, even parodistic femininity, tropes piled on as if to highlight via juxtaposition (or, perhaps, even to excuse) any rude behavior. I mean, does it strike anyone else as odd that both Bachelorette and Bridesmaids are wedding-centric—that each sets its antics against so fundamentally frilly a scenario? Then, of course, there are the cupcakes, predominant in Girls and Bridesmaids alike. Though certainly steps forward, these narratives still seem to balk at presenting uncharacteristic unfeminineness as a fact, instead of as a grating fall from our expectations (à la shitting in virginal white crinoline).
What I’m waiting for, honestly, is the female equivalent of Comedy Central’s Workaholics, a show that revels in the grimy minutiae of three permastoned gents’ 20-something schlubdom—one that, for the record, is mainly a favorite of my female friends, who all spend episodes cackling in recognition. And it’s this affirmation that I’m after—the permission that a show like that would grant to us millions of XX chromosomians who, say, watch reruns in our underwear hung over and covered in Pirate’s Booty residue. Until that fine day, though, we ladies will just have to continue to fight for our ever-important right to party—and to be just as gross as the dudes while doing it.
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