The Last Laugh: Chick Flicks Suck?


I’m gonna be a real chick for a second here and confess that the marketing campaign for Bridesmaids hurts my feelings.

I should preface this with how excited I was to see this movie.  (And I did see it recently, at a preview screening, but I’ll save my thoughts on what this movie does/doesn’t do for women in comedy for next time).  A big, broad comedy about broads is right up my alley.  An ensemble cast of hilarious women, getting to be hilarious women.  I was so excited that I heard Kristen Wiig’s co-writer Annie Mumolo speak on a women in comedy panel, read an early draft of the script, and when I saw the cast, thought, “FINALLY!  A movie for ME!”

Wrong.

What this poster tells me is that this movie is not for me at all.  Even Kristen Wiig, who I adore, and her talented lady castmates are swearing, “it’s not a chick flick.”1

And why do we women hate ourselves so much?2  Well, I’ve talked about self-deprecation in female comedy3  as a humor technique before – but for it to be truly empowering, we have to feel like the comedienne is mastering her vulnerabilities.  So when the moniker “chick flick” is slapped on movies for women and portrayed as the definition of suckage – well, let’s just say no one’s laughing with us.

There’s a business side of the film business that has to be addressed here – or the business side of the web business for that matter – which is about who shows up.

The film industry is built on a wide-release business model that relies heavily on opening weekends.  If a film underperforms on opening weekend, it’s a dud.  Even though new data from the MPAA4  shows that men and women attend the movies in equal numbers,5  the film industry operates on a perception that one audience in particular shows up early and in big numbers: young males.

As a result, marketing campaigns for big movies like this one largely ignore us, and even go so far as to tell us our ‘chick flicks’ suck.

Do we girls think chick flicks suck sometimes?  Obvi!  All movies suck sometimes.  But let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good ‘shoe-shopping montage’ once in awhile?  And who spent her childhood repeatedly watching Clueless on VHS?6  This gal!

But since I have seen the movie, I’ll let you in on a little secret – spoiler alert – it IS a chick flick.  Which is why I think marketing it as “not a chick flick” will hurt the movie in the end.  You’re telling chicks that our movies suck, and you’re banking on hordes of dudes getting hooked by a poster of six women in hot pink dresses.  Riiight.

See, unlike young males, we ladies like to take our time with viewing decisions.  We wait for reviews and word-of-mouth to trickle in before seeing a film.7  Which makes perfect sense — in a rough economy, our practicality gets the best of us — we want to be sure a movie’s worth our hard-earned dinero.8

Sometimes I just want to shout, “CONSUME, WOMEN!”  I know from running a website for women that no matter how amazing our content is, no matter how much our friends tell us they love it, we can’t succeed if women don’t visit Comediva.com.  If we want there to be content by us, for us, we have to SHOW UP.  Because secretly, this is a movie for us, even if we are chicks.

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So please, ladies, see Bridesmaids.  Show the world that we can show up.  Homework: while you watch it, think about what it’s doing and not doing for women in comedy.  And then come back here and tell me what you thought.

Showing up is half the battle.


Footnotes & Suggested Reading:

1 Are Women Able to Find Success With Raunchy Comedies? (Hollywood News)

2 Ironically, the “Chick Flicks Don’t Have to Suck” tagline comes from a woman’s review of Bridesmaids.  See what I mean?

The Last Laugh: What Makes Girls Giggle? (Comediva)

Theatrical Market Statistics, 2010 (MPAA)

Who Goes to the Movies? Moviegoers Stats from 2010 (IndieWire)

6 Also, Austin Powers with Spanish subtitles.  ¡Portate bien!

Hollywood vs. Women (Entertainment Weekly)

8 This works against “our” movies too, like Sex and the City 2, which saw good numbers its first two days, then dropped off because of poor word-of-mouth. 

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About the author

Erika Cervantes

Hi!  I'm Erika Cervantes.  I'm Comediva's Boss Lady and Founder.  I'm a comedy writer, a Chihuahua mama, a cupcake enthusiast, and most importantly...my dream is to build the place where the funny girls are, and that's why you're here.  And that makes my heart smile.  :-)  I work on all Comediva Originals in different capacities -- writing and producing, mostly -- and I keep the team well-sugared with motivational speeches and home-made cookies.

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11 comments

  1. Erika Cervantes
    Erika Cervantes

    Thanks for commenting, Liser! Always happy to get feminism out of the closet and out on the streets where it belongs! Wait, that sounds vaguely anti-feminist.

  2. Liser

    I’ve been a feminist since Betty Freidan sat with me in a bar and belched out the N.O.W. pledge. Thanks for bringing it up, Erika. Anybody want to come out of the feminist closet and join me?

  3. Erika Cervantes
    Erika Cervantes

    Good point, Nic — that was my point too — do chick flicks suck sometimes? Yes! All movies suck sometimes. Blockbusters such sometimes. But to say it as if chick flicks are the definition of suckage, well, that sucks.

    And this movie is definitely not anything like 27 Dresses, but it is about being a bridesmaid — and I think they should own that.

  4. nic justice

    I don’t think that “chick flick” is anymore a dirty word that “blockbuster” is.
    think both are genres that hollywood pumps out with out regard if they are any good or not. I think it is refreshing that a movie can accept and be proud of being a genre flick and throw it back and say just because you saw 27 DRESSES doesn’t mean that is the same movie.

  5. Erika Cervantes
    Erika Cervantes

    Linda, you’re right. It does bum me out when you put it like that. I’ve seen articles saying, “is this the first true female comedy?” Which is obviously a lot of pressure to put on a movie, but for that to be the statement and then to have it not marketed to women is sad.

  6. Erika Cervantes
    Erika Cervantes

    Thanks for the comment, Nikki!

    But for this movie and ones like it to succeed, we girls need to show up. ;-)

    And I feel ya, every time I now hear something like, “girls aren’t funny” it just sounds like a joke to me, because I know how funny girls are. It’s just utterly false. And we have so many of the funniest ladies in town right here on this site!

  7. Linda Y. Chavez
    Linda Y. Chavez

    It’s really disappointing that a film christened the “first female comedy” is not targeted to women at all whatsoever. In fact, it really, REALLY bums me the heck out. I only hope that Kristen Wiig will have the opportunity in the future to take the reigns and show ‘em what a female comedy really looks like.

  8. Nikki!

    Yeah, ouch. God FORBID a good all girl comedy exist. Hopefully once this movie succeeds, the next one won’t require the ridiculous disclaimers. One day, it won’t be considered “so astonishing” that women are ACTUALLY funny. (I’m pretty stoked about this movie’s existence.)

  9. Erika Cervantes
    Erika Cervantes

    Thanks for the comment, ValleyGirl.

    Here’s the thing — I feel like this movie should be a GIRL EVENT MOVIE. Like Sex and the City and the like, where gals go see it in groups with their buddies, and girls drag their boyfriends. Why shouldn’t it be that? It’s about such a universal female experience — being a bridesmaid! But it feels like this marketing campaign is going in the completely opposite direction.

  10. ValleyGirl

    I think you’re right, Erika. The marketing for this film really de-values the female audience. Us gals (and some movie savvy men) already know that chick flicks don’t have to suck, but the poster plays to the lowest common denominator and tells us that movies for women are inherently un-iteresting and un-artistic.

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