Don Zerilli Mooradian
I am told we are in a “post-feminist” society or a third or fourth wave of Feminism, depending on how or who is counting. Fine. As a Baby Boomer, I missed the first wave but was definitely around for the second and successive waves. I believe the two decades from 1955 to roughly 1975 changed the social order in this country and around the world for the better regarding rights for racial and ethnic minorities, women, homosexuals, the handicapped and other disenfranchised persons along with animals and also, planet Earth itself. This is all great and as it should be. Unfortunately, the struggle for those rights does not appear to have a final bell–it looks as though the struggle will be ongoing for some time to come. But progress has been made.
I will not confuse civil rights with comedic rights. In recent years, it is obvious that there are politically correct limits to comedy which offer many opportunities for debates that should be had.
What I am concerned about is that somehow Broad City is being hailed by some as displaying some new breakthrough in feminism or being reflective of a new generation of women who can finally be as boorish as they wish, yes, even as boorish as the most boorish of men in or outside of comedy. Add to this shows such as “Girls” and movies such as “Bridesmaids” and a handful of women comedians as indicators of a new freedom for women to be, well, themselves?
Step back and think before you leap. Yes, you can point to strong female characters on TV and the movies–many of whom a carry a gun, a sword or a magic wand. But tread gently and slowly onto the thin ice of a shows that call women in their 20s “girls” or “broads.” If I remember correctly, such labels were one of the things the women I knew in the second wave were fighting against. I understand that minority populations can tease themselves in ways that those outside the population can not and should not. Fine.
I understand, too, that there should be a place for female buffoons on television and in the movies. There always have been. However, they were seldom granted sainthood in the pantheon of feminist ground-breakers. (More below photos.)
Just a couple samples of commentary lauding Broad City:
“…the women of Broad City exhibit very real imperfections without the self-loathing. This strikes me as a huge step forward. Abbi and Ilana don’t just reject the exacting standards most women feel they have to live up to, they still feel great about themselves.” From Ann Friedman, The Guardian, April 14, 2014.
“What often gets lost in these discussions, and what speaks loudest, is how evocative “Broad City” is of a moment in many young people’s lives when they are poor, confused, energetic, vaguely educated, new to a metropolis, doing their own laundry, wondering if they are full of potential or, well, something smellier.” From Christopher Borrelli, Chicago Tribune, January 9, 2015.
If the post-feminism means women characters can do crazy stuff in TV shows and movies. Sure, why not?
But if post-feminism means young women should use Beavis and Butthead as role models, I hope saner voices prevail.
Shows like Broad City should open with a disclaimer: “Young women, please do not try this at home.”
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Don Zerilli Mooradian
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