Celebrating Bridget Jones 20 years after the film’s release
“Bridget Jones was a total legend”. These are the words my editor used in his email when we were discussing this article and it’s hard to disagree. She was fair. I first watched the movie right before puberty, and I’m still in a relationship with it. I had never had two men arguing over me but I knew that when that day came (my God please) I would react just like she did. And even then, I understood all of her body image insecurities, not to mention her constant humiliation, awkwardness at family gatherings, and her need to yell with Celine Dion in pajamas with ice cream.
Exactly 20 years after the film came out, I still do. No matter how many times I look at Bridget Jones’ diary, I find myself crying, laughing and grimacing with it. But the difference is that now, with the advantage of time, I can also see that Bridge deserved better – both in the movie, but also in real life.
Much has been written about how the character of Bridget was treated, and even author Helen Fielding herself has said that she can’t write Bridget the same way now. “The level of sexism Bridget faced with her hand on her ass in so many scenes,” she said on Desert Island Discs, made it “quite shocking for me to see how things have changed since then.” Bridget faces constant sexual harassment, whether in the workplace or with a parent pinching her down. As per the pre-Me Too era, Bridget doesn’t call HR and ask for a change; she supports it. Watching him now is, as Fielding said, shocking – but it’s also just sad.
The same goes for his obsession (and everyone else’s) for his weight. Bridget relentlessly counts her calories and forces herself on Spanx, while those around her see her as an overweight mess. Daniel Cleaver’s girlfriend even makes cutting remarks: “ I thought you said she was thin. ” In truth, Bridget is only a size 10/12 – the UK average.
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It’s all so much easier to spot 20 years later. Why was Bridget always seen as just a botched disaster when she was, in fact, a 32-year-old freelance woman with a good job, good friends, and an even better apartment in Borough Market? Why was she continually defined by her relationship status or her absence? And why hasn’t anyone thought to question that?
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At the same time, it is also depressing. Today, many women still worry unnecessarily about their weight, as we live in a world where we are judged primarily by our appearance, and the pressure on single women to marry, have sex. children and become “ sufficient brides ” is always strong.
But for me, looking at Bridget Jones two decades later, the most shocking thing is how she was viewed in real life by the media and critics. In The Guardian in 2001, Peter Bradshaw wrote: “The terrible truth about this movie is that it makes Bridget look like the world’s greatest fool and a blatant emotional fool.” He calls her a “ lovable, childish clown, ” then meticulously comments on Zellweger’s weight gain for the role:
“Her thighs are massively dimpled and her fat ass is as majestic as a flowing galleon, and it’s always in our face, especially when Bridget wears a bulging Playboy bunny outfit at her mother’s vicars and pies party.” . It’s a quintessentially English background that should by right be encased in an unflattering netball skirt. “
To Bradshaw, Bridget is just a comedy character with a big ass. By calling her a “ clown ”, “ fool ” and “ fool ” (like we didn’t get her point the first time), he reduces Bridget – and any woman who relates to her struggles – like an idiot whose English ass symbolizes her ridicule.
Meanwhile, Andrew O’Hagan of the Telegraph sums up our Bridge as “ a unique and marginally podgy editing assistant in ’90s London’ ‘. She laughs a little. He also wrote that “ Curtis’ Bridget Jones is not so much a true modern girl as a bulky second string cipher in a chocolate box study from England. ”
But Bridget was – is – much more than that. She’s relentlessly strong, surviving all the ongoing humiliations and ultimately sticking her to Daniel Cleaver with RESPECT bursting in the background. If those aren’t life goals, I don’t know what they are. She is also very vulnerable, which critics seemed to miss. She is prone to condescending comments about the “ ticking ” of her body clock and also faces her parents’ turbulent relationship. There’s a lot going on, and dismissing Bridget as an emotional jerk ignores all the delicious nuances of her character.
These reviews (written mostly by men, it should be noted) also sum up the attitude at the time of the film’s release, in terms of his obsession with Zellweger’s weight. The poor woman was examined, analyzed and objectified after gaining weight for the role – and then the same happened to her when she lost all the weight afterwards. In this way, Bridget Jones’ Diary is a reminder of how much women, both on and off screen, are reduced to their bodies.
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If Bridget Jones were released today, I imagine a lot of the movie’s moments would be changed (less sexual harassment, or a more obvious loathing for it, and maybe more celebration of feminism), but I also hope that ‘she would be viewed with more compassion. . Fielding herself said: ‘At the time Bridget said being a feminist with a capital F was another thing she didn’t think she was very good at. What’s great now is that feminism has kind of lost its F capital. ‘
That’s right, and I hope Bridget won’t be judged so harshly again for wanting to get married and ultimately having that happy ending. But at the same time, I can’t help but hope that all the critics who judged her as little more than a clown might also see her as a symbol of all the single women who have to face the challenge. constant. lows and pressures of what is still a patriarchal world.