Often in feminist criticism female friendships are discussed as a great barometer for the authenticity of the female characters. Strong bonds and healthy interactions serve the dual purpose of highlighting positive female roles and for showing the many dimensions of women as whole persons. I propose that in order to continue the push to show women as well-developed characters we also need representations of flawed female friendships.
Now whilst this seems like an odd collection of friendships, it is an important selection of lessons. It fosters the idea that girls working together will always be better than scheming men, and will always sort things out even if they do need help. Girls are fearless: willing to steal, blow up iron bars, fight back against creeps, and speak out. And most importantly, it’s OK to make mistakes. The girls also enjoy themselves doing it.
Can women be friends? Or, most importantly, can two women who share the same man be friends? The depiction of genuinely loving and caring female friends has found its way onto many movies and TV shows, but when it comes to the idea of a more complex situation—the “frenemies”—it’s harder to find characters that do it justice. There is a shallow notion that when two women want the same man, they turn into hair-pulling, catfighting brats.
But the focus on “getting everything” was a little hard to stomach from women living in huge condos in the heart of New York with an interior designer on their payroll. Somehow it felt like the message was getting a little lost in the middle of all the high-society hob-nobbing – there was nothing particularly universal about it, and any feminism that was being communicated was certainly of a rarefied kind that most of us wouldn’t be able to access.
Regardless of how psychological or interpretive you want to get with Scarlett and Melanie’s friendship, it serves as an invaluable example for how women can accept, value, and interact with one another.
But what if I spent my time, instead, helping another female filmmaker make her movie involving female friendship? Wouldn’t that be just as meaningful? And could it perhaps be making an even bigger statement—promoting the “cause,” so to speak?
Check out what we’ve been reading this week–and let us know what you’ve been reading/writing in the comments!
Even you’re not in school, September feels like a time for beginnings. It’s when you met the people who would become your close friends, bought new school shoes, and settled into a new year. With that in mind, I decided to look at a selection of coming of age films loosely based around school and learning. As an extra bonus, all five films come from female writer-directors.
While watching ‘The Maze Runner,’ I couldn’t help thinking, wouldn’t this story have been so much more rich and interesting if it had been told from Minho’s or Teresa’s perspective? Why not feature a girl or a boy of color as the protagonist?
Let’s face it, ‘Boyhood’ is a gimmick movie. Richard Linklater sporadically filmed it over a twelve-year period so we could see the child actors in it actually grow-up. If you loved Michael Apted’s ‘Up’ series but wanted more fiction and less wait, Boyhood is for you. But if you just love coming-of-age dramas, I’m not sure I can recommend this one.
All art is political. That’s what they teach you in art school, and it’s what they teach you in criticism school. It’s apparently not what they teach you in internet troll school.
On the subject of female comediennes, A.O. Scott, ‘New York Times’ movie critic, recently wrote, “The ‘can women be funny?’ pseudo-debate of a few years ago, ridiculous at the time, has been settled so decisively it’s as if it never happened…The real issue, in any case, was never the ability of women to get a laugh but rather their right to be as honest as men.” I love A.O. Scott and his writing is brilliant, and I agree with him—the “can women be funny?” argument is a weird pseudo-debate that managed to gain traction on the big world of the web.