A story about "raunchy" comedies (like Katherine Heigl's new flick The Ugly Truth) in Monday's Variety asks, "Can girls out-gross guys at box office?" Melissa Silverstein of Women & Hollywood has a better question: If they can, is it progress?
According to Variety's Nicole Laporte:
A number of edgy, raw comedies, all written by women, have been hitting theaters — and doing well — making the case that, as [writer Kirsten] Smith puts it, "As women, we can bring it the way guys bring it."
Laporte calls this "The Naughty Girl movement," and includes Diablo Cody (Juno), Dana Fox (What Happens in Vegas), Liz Meriwether (the upcoming Fuckbuddies) and Lorene Scafaria (Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist).
"Naughty girl" movement (could that be more sexist?)
But the point is that many female screenwriters have felt reigned in for years. Now that more edgy fare is being embraced, they have, in Silverstein's words, "the freedom to write like a guy."
Apparently, Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith, who wrote the script for The Ugly Truth along with Nicole Eastman, told Variety they were excited to have an R rating:
"When they told us to make it R, the heavens opened and the angels sang," Lutz says. "We always pitch our dirty jokes to each other knowing we can't use them. Suddenly, it was like, 'Oh my God! We can write like we actually talk!' "
But Silverstein, who says the film is "riddled with cliches about competent women" and portrays them all as non-masturbating control freaks with cats, ponytails and comfortable clothes, doesn't know if dirty jokes are such a great trade off. "Basically the film's premise tells women to throw out 40 years of women's progress cause it's such a turn off," she writes. "But just because you have the freedom to say fuck or cock as many times as you want does that mean that you should?"
The obvious answer is no, but when women are trying to keep up with the guys, it's hard to blame them for trying to match swear for swear. While females don't have to be delicate, the ideal dirty joke is A. appropriate in the storyline and B. actually funny. As for swapping the cats, ponytails and comfortable clothes in order to get a man, well, a chick getting a makeover isn't a cliché at all, right?