I saw a trailer for the new Bridget Jones movie this past week, as it ran before a Youtube video I wanted to see, and it was like seeing a dead animal in the street: you don’t want to look, but you just have to (or is that just me?). First off, I was a total Bridget Jones fan in my youth—I watched the first two movies (more than once each!) and even read the book. I found it annoying that they called Renee Zellweger fat, when she was so much skinnier than I had ever been, but I still got sucked into its gravitational pull. I loved Colin Firth’s character—the quiet, understated love interest who is mysterious and turns out, totally into the protagonist. Loved it. Loved the cheesy guy fight over her—it seemed to capture all my hidden dreams and spill them all over the screen.
I used to watch mostly 80’s and 90’s rom-coms, because I didn’t have a DVD player and would score rom-com finds in the 50 cent VHS aisles of the local record shops. Bridget Jones reminds me of that era of rom-coms, which means there hasn’t been a whole lot of progress in 30 years in terms of the way mainstream media portrays its leading ladies.
I’ve become more critical of romantic comedies (or rom-coms, as I like to call them) in the past few years. Bridget no longer speaks for me—she’s not a well-rounded person, really, is what it comes down to—she drinks and smokes far too much and she’s totally preoccupied with her looks. Who gives a flip about your looks, Bridget? What are you doing to make this world a better place, Bridget? I used to view watching rom-coms like a version of eating junk food—I know it’s not good for me, but I figure if it helps me get through my life, I can allow myself to have it sometimes. But now I compare these kinds of movies to poison—just like junk food. These movies are the equivalent of GMO, preservative, and chemical-filled junk food, which your body wouldn’t naturally eat and which it can’t process. It leads to disease of the soul, not of the body, watching shows where the main character wants male attention and her world won’t be full until that happens. It’s a damn shame that there aren’t some redeeming female characters in today’s rom-coms—and I deplore the film industry to step up their game. And I wish they’d stop marketing rom-coms as portraying typical life—these movies, in my humble experience, are portraying anything but the typical.
The biggest issue I have with Bridget’s character is that she LIVES for male attention. If she were a monster, she would feed off the flirtation and desires of all men everywhere. Cue the 3rd movie plot: newly-single Bridget Jones has a one-night stand, winds up pregnant, and the man she’d hooked up with falls in love with her. The trailer I watched was one scene, where the man (that guy from that horrible-looking movie called Made of Honor [even as devoted of a rom-com-watcher as I was, I didn’t waste time on that one!]) is giving her gifts and telling her about how their love affair should have gone, if only she hadn’t gone and gotten herself knocked up, thereby ruining all the romance and turning their relationship too-real, too-fast. She swoons over the big bouquet of flowers and stuffed animal and it’s the most contrived, clichéd thing I’ve watched in a good long while. Which made me think: is Bridget Jones the female version of the James Bond movies? Let’s do a quick comparison:
-gets a new lover in this new movie, keeping things spicy
-is a clichéd, worn-out rom-com flick that’s been re-done coming up on 3 times just to bring in new audiences
-gets a new lover in most new movies
-is a clichéd, worn-out action flick that’s been re-done a million times just to bring in new audiences
I’d imagine that there are more similarities, but truth be told, I’ve only seen snippets of various Bond movies, so I’m not an expert in them. I’d love to see them swap out the female lead after every couple of movies and keep calling her Bridget Jones, but she stays young and fresh enough to be relatable as a rom-com lead–it would be more realistic of the big film studios. Bridget can keep her dimension-less character and her anxiety-prone activities, get a new boyfriend/husband every few years, and just keep churning out new box-office hits. Because women just want to watch a woman snag a man, right? Oh, and maybe get lucky enough to snag that man while at the same time having a baby, ammiright, ladies?