Trainwreck is arguably one of the better movies I’ve seen this year, although, really, I’ve only been letting myself watch quality films this year…but I guess it stands out for its comedic quality. It’s one of the few movies I’ve seen this year that had me doubled over in laughter, clapping my hands and crying in the dark theater.
(It Follows, Gone Girl, and the Babadook were good too.)
I’ve been reading everything, everything I can find. I’ve been poring over reviews and old clips of Amy Schumer’s stand up. Looking to see what else she has to offer, trying to name what’s problematic in her comedy and what she doesn’t get quite right. There’s so much. But there’s a lot she gets right, and I like many others, am tired of the criticalness, and just want her to have her day. Can we do that? Despite the fact that she is a white heterosexual female who’s written a white, heteronormative script? Baby steps. Baby steps.
Reading this: Amy Schumer and the Power of the Lady Jerk
It finally clicked for me, one of the things she gets right: The Lady Jerk. (But what about Natalie Portman’s character in No Strings Attached? What about Ellen Page in Juno? I would even argue for Aubrey Hepburn’s character in Breakfast at Tiffany’s to be included. All display qualities of the lady jerk; of the woman who doesn’t want to be loved; who isn’t pursuing love; of the supposed relationship dynamic flipped on its head–needy guy, resistant woman.)
Amy of Trainwreck is a well-rounded character. She’s a jerk, and she’s not. She’s not afraid. She doesn’t flinch or cry or doubt her decision when John Cena’s character says, “Fuck you, Amy. You’re not nice.”
“You’re not nice.”
I guess this is the wall that I feel like I hit, time and time again. In my professional and personal world. I am not nice. I try, especially with new people, mostly so I don’t scare them away. But it is not my natural state. I have to have a sincere investment in someone to be nice to them. To show them my love language in actions or gifts or something more than my presence and my words. It’s hard for me. And just because I’ve invested in someone–that doesn’t guarantee my niceness. A long day, a missed meal, a bad conversation, and my niceness goes a-packing. And I am seen snarling, griping, making crass jokes. I am not nice. It breaks my mother’s heart; it makes my sisters laugh; it seriously limits the number of close friends in my life. I can’t help it. And I struggle always with this quality. I don’t want to be a bitch, but I don’t mind being a dick. Dicks have feelings too. Bitches seem one-dimensional and self-involved. I am neither.
And I struggled with this, this not-niceness. Is it wrong? Bad? Why is it so hard to be associated with a not?
From “Amy Schumer and the Power of the Lady Jerk”:
Which brings us back to the Blanket “Bitch,” whose existence stems in part from an assumption made in both rom-coms and the culture at large: that niceness, for women, is a kind of default state—one so deeply assumed, and so thoroughly diffused into expectations of femininity, that the only thing remarkable about it would be its violation. Women range when it comes to intelligence and attractiveness and funniness and every other quality that makes a human a human. When it comes to niceness, however, we have—in language, and in life—assumed a kind of ontological grandeur: Either she is nice, or she is not. Either she is a bitch, or she is not.
And I’m tired of this dichotomy. I sense it lingering there in all of my interactions. I will be liked, if I can smile and nod and compliment. I will be avoided if I give in to my gut–if I roll my eyes or don’t smile or change my mind or shrug my shoulders. If I criticize your word choice, your decision-making. If I insult your mother–I will be alone.
I hate that. I hate navigating that with other people, mostly because I do feel like it is something that only females have to do. Expectations of femininity that do not exist in masculinity. In the world of maleness. I’m tired of it. And maybe that was my favorite part of the movie:
The movie is, by way of its star and its plot, giving a woman permission to do something that many a movie-dude has done before, by default: be a jerk, and be loved anyway.
I don’t fucking care if you like it, but it would be nice if you did because that’s who I am. This is who I am.