I am so over political correctness. It’s like a sea of words I keep drowning in. You got to appear to be the ‘correct’ kind of feminist or they’ll all come for you – and by ‘they’ I mean, feminists. It’s happened to me many times, that’s how I know.
I went to see the film ‘I feel pretty’ starring Amy Schumer last week despite the social backlash and reviews and social media noise citing it was offensive to women and feminism. And I loved it. It was one of the best chick flicks I’ve seen in a long time, but I think that makes me a bad feminist.
I feel pretty held a mirror to my uphill battle with my self-esteem issues
Okay, so here are some of the reviews:
From the Telegraph: “Amy Schumer’s body-positive comedy is cruel and self-defeating”
The Atlantic: “The new Amy Schumer vehicle tries to be a feminist fable—and fails badly.”
NY Times: “‘I Feel Pretty’ Doesn’t Even Go Skin Deep”
Unfortunately, what reviews like this do is they stop women (and men) who need to see this film from seeing it. I am not a huge fan of Amy Schumer’s stand up, but her screen work has definitely pushed the boundaries of feminism, and with reviews like this I wonder why we are so hard on her.
There is so much political correctness surroundings this film: Amy isn’t fat enough to play a woman who suffers from self-esteem issues. That the film makes a mockery of the struggle of those women. Amy is too white to have experienced discrimination. And maybe all those things are true about Amy, but anyone that judges this film through that lens is only observing it at face value. They are not going deep enough and missing the point, because to me this film is not about any of that at all.
So many people, and particularly woman, are raised in environments where they are constantly told they are not good enough, and this manifests in all sorts of ways when you reach adulthood. It affects the way in which you relate to your friends, to lovers, it can affects your career and life goals. Suffering from self-esteem issues can be like a poison in your life. It can hold you back from success. I know this because I have experienced all this in my life, how the tentacles of self-esteem can wreak havoc in your life. What the film does successfully is that it takes this idea and challenges the viewer to consider how changing the way you think about yourself, changing the way you perceive yourself, can change your outcomes. And this is especially liberating to watch unfold on screen in a light-hearted, comedic way.
Also, this isn’t a documentary, it’s a chick flick. And since when do we believe that the girl would really end up with the guy in reality like is so depicted in this genre? There is always an element of suspended disbelief when watching a film of this genre, which is why I find it unbelievable that people are being so hard on this film. Are we expecting too much of Amy Schumer while simultaneously allowing political correctness to strangle her?
There are other characters who also suffer from self-esteem issues in the film. The boyfriend character does, as does one of the super-model-stunning acquaintance of the protagonist, highlighting that many of us to suffer from it at some point in our lives. While we all don’t live in a Hollywood movie, there is a lot of merit to the underlying message of this film, which has nothing to do with your body shape or how good looking you are, but more to do with how you perceive yourself as a person. It challenges the unhelpful way which we navigate through our lives, because if you don’t believe in yourself, then you make it harder for others to believe in you.
This film doesn’t profess to change the systematic issues of discrimination in our society at all, which is what many are expecting it to do. Comedian Bill Maher slammed the reviews on his show. “Can’t we just sit in a movie theater, un-clench our assholes for two hours, and laugh at what it is, instead of dissecting it for what it is not?” Maher asked. “Movie reviews, they’re not even reviews any more. They’re just, ‘How come you made the movie you made and not the one I would have made?” And it’s so true in this digital world. Reviewers have so much power and they can create so much hype it can actually stop people from seeing a film that they might actually benefit from seeing.
Together with ‘How to be single’, which were also the writers of ‘I feel pretty’, Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, these two films have been my favourite in the genre of recent times simply because they challenge the notion of a romantic comedy and they have given power back to women. Rather than waiting for some guy to rescue them, the women are the master of their own destinies, and that, my friend, is what feminism is to me.