The Bridget Jones post

July 31, 2008

So, having a rant about Jane Austen adaptations the other day garnered some interest from www.austenblog.com. I’d like to explain my thoughts around this but I have a feeling they will get terribly out of control and meander all over the place (my train of thought at the best of times being a wobbly shopping trolley full of impulse buys and reduced counter items). My plan is to number the sections and pretend it’s a form of organisation.

1) Jane Austen. My feelings on Austen’s novels are similar to the ones I have for Harry Potter: so many people love them already that I needn’t make too much of an effort to. Unlike Harry Potter I have read most of Austen’s books, my favourite being Persuasion, but I’m not about to have a fangasm by reading it over and over when there are many, many other books also worthy of my attention. Most of my Austen books are actually on loan to my mother at the moment in the hope of improving her taste…

2) Bridget Jones: the novel. This was not in itself a bad book though at the time it came out I was having a heavy aversion to “chick lit” (I think I’ll have to make a separate post about chick lit sometime) so I resented having to study it in school when I naively felt I should be studying “real literature”. It turns out on closer inspection that virtually every plot device in BJD was lifted from Pride and Prejudice and if I knew where that essay was I’d type it out and post it.

I found Bridget to be a stagnant character. She was always frustrated and never achieved anything. One thing she was aiming for was weight loss but even when she reached her goal weight it so happened that a few people said she looked ill that day so she gave it up and put the weight back on. I can appreciate her appeal as a character who didn’t really know what she wanted and just sort of muddled through, and that despite her screw-ups she didn’t do too badly in the balance (perhaps reflected by her tiny scratchcard profit over the year). She is essentially a mediocre person, but that’s ok because we all are. In that light I completely understand the book’s success.

3) Bridget Jones: the movie. The movie character was quite different to the book character. To make her more universally lovable they turned her into a bumbling fool. She was no longer mediocre, she was spectacular in her failure. I can’t remember a single thing that goes right for her other than having sex. If she had had one success, just one little triumph to cling to, if she’d even just been adequately good at her job, I would be able to forgive most of the rest of the movie. Sadly she didn’t, so I can’t, but that just means I don’t like the movie not that the movie itself was bad.

We all screw up, I get it. I’ve worn odd shoes to work, I thrown up in embarrassing places, dated awful men and forgotten to pay my rent. But I don’t accept that as my identity like movie Jones seems to. I’ve also got two degrees, do fairly well at work and make a mean vegetable curry. Really this leads me to my final Jones section:

4) Bridget Jones: the yardstick. This is the Bridget Jones incarnation that makes me shudder. The book was fine, the movie was blah, but the legacy genuinely distresses me. Bridget Jones has become the standard by which women are measured. The yardstick doesn’t do the character justice, not even the movie version, as it has reduced her to an even simpler form: a typical woman.

I resent that Bridget Jones has been chosen as the representative of womankind. I do not fail at everything I attempt; I do not fall over all the time; I do not go out looking like a tit without realising (mostly); I do not hear a clock in my head; I do not care about my size; I do not think that having a man is the be all and end all; I definitely don’t think it’s appropriate to start thinking about marriage 2 months after you start dating. And Bridget didn’t necessarily even do all of these things, they’ve just been added to the yardstick.

You can be a bumbling fool sometimes, but I don’t want people assuming that if they see me do it once that is all I am. The attributes above are not bad in context: Femme falls over all the time and I’m pretty certain she hears a clock in her head but she is a well-rounded capable person. In the same vein I act really childishly with my partner but it doesn’t mean I have the intellectual capacity of a five year old. If people/media were making Bridget Jones comparisons in relation to her character it wouldn’t be so bad, but it looks to me like an easy way of saying “You’re such a big dumbfuck, but we like you that way so keep doing it”.

The Bridget Jones Label is frequently abused to box women into a restricted catagory. I don’t know how easy it would be to shake that label. It especially bothered me when people (including the teacher leading my class when studying this) labelled themselves as Bridget Joneses, because love her or hate her is there anyone out there who respects her?

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What is wrong with right-wing people?

June 12, 2008

To my mind, and in my experience, those that loudly proclaim themselves to be on the right-wing of the political spectrum are not the nicest of people. As I understand it being right-wing is all about ‘looking out for number one’ and so earning lots of money for yourself and stepping on people’s heads to gain this fiscal happiness. In order to gain all you can you may abuse your societal privilege, for example if you were born a white man you may openly proclaim that chicks are no good in the board room but they sure do look nice when cooking me a steak – not those black chicks though, don’t wanna eat friend chicken every night. You don’t have to be as extremely foul and blatant as that but casual insult dropping to those regarded as ‘beneath’ you seems to be a typical trait of right-wingers. They may object and tell you they can’t possibly be racist because they have a #insert minority here# friend -right after challenging you to a game of ‘spot the white face’ which obviously can’t possibly be racist because white is the race you’re focusing on and blah blah blah.

Right-wingers also, in my observation, have a fearful loathing of the poor. I’m guessing this is either because poor people remind them how much money they are selfishly hoarding, or because they think the poor people are stealing all their taxes. I do think it funny the amount of rage right-wing media spews on people supposedly stealing taxes. Even if we didn’t have state-run welfare programmes there would still be tax to pay; that stuff is barely a drop in the ocean.

Some right-wingers have the most problem with middle-class liberals. They look at them, trying to think of a conceivable reason why this person who should, in their minds, be just like them but chooses not to be. I have seen this cause arguments and even fights. You have the capacity to gain things for yourself and yet you choose not to? What madness! What stupidity! they must think. Yet I think the opposite: you have the opportunity and financial ability to choose your actions, so why don’t you choose the actions that make the world a little bit better? Like walking to the shop. Or reusing a bag. Or not buying and buying and buying cheap things so that you can have a lot of things and still have a lot of cash. Or choosing to buy a small car instead of a large car. Or not being rude to waiters because you see them as poor servants to your greatness. Or not being rude to people you perceive as foreign because you assume they are here illegally and stealing your taxes when in fact you have no idea what their personal circumstances are. Or thinking about things for a change.

I can’t honestly say why right-wing people have more of a tendency to do at least some of the things I’ve listed above. It may seem harsh to judge but I think about things and I try not to make negative impacts on the lives of others so I don’t understand why some people think it is acceptable to do so.


Bonus post

May 20, 2008

I can’t resist the urge to rant, and a tingling sensation in my kneecaps makes me think I may be busy tomorrow and not have time to post. In a way this carries on with the discussion of my beliefs.

So on with the rant. Debates are raging in parliament today about whether abortion limits need to be reduced. On one side are a bunch of creationist catholics, protestant moralists, and media outlets with the tagline  ‘we’re all going to hell in a handcart’ on the other side are some medical professionals and women who enjoy having autonomy saying ‘why are you having a spaz about this? it’s fine the way it is’

It is fine the way it is. Or rather the limit is. If it was easier to get an abortion, say if we had abortion on demand like most of Europe, even less people than the tiny minimal amount that do it now would need to get a late term abortion. I would say make it less of a stigma but people can think, say and believe whatever they want – I just wish they wouldn’t use their backward beliefs to interfere with the lives of others.

Why is it the most stupid people who get paid to write about their stupid thoughts and beliefs? I really shouldn’t read the Daily Mail website – it’s so full of venom, bile, and other toxic fluids. Sometimes I write comments to them telling them how poor the articles are, like when they googled ‘fat pets’ published the pictures and had a list of commentors saying how cruel it was to treat animals in this way. Today, after reading my ‘favourite’ journalist Liz Jones (who I used to believe was fictional satire, her life is that pathetic) I stumbled onto an article on how you can nag your way out of marriage.

Yup, a woman can nag her husband away. It’s not even that he will leave her because of the nagging, he will be too hen pecked, but she will gradually nag apart the marriage. Because that’s what women do: nag pointlessly without thinking. It’s not that they are annoyed or resentful toward their shit husbands and it happens to manifest as nagging. It’s not that he’s just a bit rubbish at doing his chores. It’s not even that they just aren’t compatible people. Nope: it’s the woman’s fault (for fulfilling a stereotype if that’s actually what happened).

And feminism destroyed the nuclear family. The nuclear family that has existed for about 150 years. Destroyed by women daring to leave husbands who for some reason weren’t good enough. Because a man would never leave his wife (just have her commited or lobotomised – shame we don’t do that anymore). And sometimes babies are made by accident. and sometimes people don’t want to be together. And sometimes people want someone of the same gender. And sometimes people want to be single (surely not #incredulous face#).

So why all the interference into other people’s lives?

If there was ever a reason to never get married it can be summarised from the above.

And going back to the abortion debate: funny how 4 of the top 5 comments on the BBC forum are by men. It really bugs me, because I want to have mixed gender debates, but it’s going to be a while before women can shout as loud and be taken as seriously. It frustrates me. I can talk to men who respect me about this but they don’t see my perspective on it, they don’t understand how I might feel in a male dominated debate. I can’t talk to men who don’t respect me because I can always tell that behind their eyes there’s a little part of them that isn’t listening. Whether they don’t respect me because I am a woman or because I am me or because of any of the other things I am or simply because of what I am saying at the time is open to debate.