I almost passed on blogging about Bride Wars, which opens this weekend, because it seemed, well, almost a little too easy to call it out for its shabby, mean-spirited treatment of women. After all, this is a film about two lifelong pals who abandon their friendship in favor of an epic, demeaning catfight over their unbelievably lavish and costly dream weddings. Bridezilla, thy name is woman... But Anne Hathaway wants me to set aside my preconceptions about Bride Wars because, she claims, there's actually an empowering narrative about women in the film!
When an interviewer from ComingSoon asked Hathaway about whether or not the film reinforced stereotypes about bridezillas, Hathaway responded:
Actually, when I got the script that's what I was anticipating and I was really sensitive to that and I just thought there wasn't a point to making a movie that is reductive to women and the whole process. So I was so happy when I read the script that the movie kind of takes the tack that the Bridezilla doesn't have a lot to do actually in our movie with getting what you want and being the center of attention. That's the myth that plays into at least my character's consciousness. 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. So to those people that believe we've perpetuated the stereotype I say come to see the film. If you disagree with us I will answer the strongly written letter that I'm sure you will write. But we were super sensitive to that in the beginning. Kate and I are both strong women that want to do everything we can to make sure that every woman feels strong. So we would never do anything that would set women back.
In the film, Hathaway plays the character Emma, who, according to the film's promotional materials, is a 'schoolteacher who has always been good at taking care of others, but not so not so much in looking after herself' until she 'discovers her inner Bridezilla and comes out swinging.' What a vision of character development and self-actualization!
Co-star Kate Hudson's response to the same question is that it's totally okay to trot out this tired zombie bride stereotype because it's in the service of film comedy, which doesn't, you know, offer enough chances for women to be silly and self-deprecating:
It's so easy to pit women against each other and it's so easy to sort of get carried away with the cattiness and the pettiness and stereotypes of women of how women handle a lot of situations. For me I looked at this as a challenge. I thought, "Well, wait a minute. This is such a great thing for women to be able to make fun of themselves." 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.
Sure, it's important for women to be able to make fun of themselves, but most comedies of late seem to offercpretty abundant opportunities for women to look ridiculous. Women want to be amused and entertained without being made to feel inadequate and foolish. So I'm not buying Hudson's attempt to rationalize this mess in the name of artistic opportunity, either.
I wish that Bride Wars would be a smart comedy about how bloated and ludicious the wedding industry has become. Instead, what I'm afraid we're in for is a comedy that makes fun of women who participate in that wedding industry, while still endorsing it wholesale.
(The one thing that actually did impress me about this interview is that Hathaway used the opportunity, at least, to call attention to marriage equality. When asked if there's too much pressure for women to get married, she responded, "I think the important thing to note though is more so than whether or not women feel pressure to get married I think that we need to work on making it possible for everyone in America to get married.")
Hudson and Hathaway Engage in Bride Wars [ComingSoon]