Second only to the nerdy male underdog (and all your associated landmark teenage dream cinematic moments of the outlier hurdling the quarterback to publicly make out with Queen Bee), the most celebrated figure of modern film culture seems to be the cussing, awkward, rough and tumble, unlikely heroine who either A) against all (all) odds, gets a blowout, a tweed suit, and the rest of her sh*t together by the end of two hours, and exits stage left to revel in her newfound social status as a strong
independent woman who don’t need no man definitely still needs the man she spent the whole film changing herself for, or B) credibly realises her mistake in aspiring to what society has pegged as defining a successful female, but is then seen to find peace with being seen as a weirdo.
I resent that.
Admittedly, all of this is a cut above the damsel in distress. I’ve always found Golden Hollywood’s hopeless on-screen post-rescue-and/or-epiphany embraces (during which said damsel’s entire body has collapsed into her suitor’s red-blooded stronghold, with her neck snapped back at an unsightly 90 degree angle) exceedingly distressing. But, in the same way that generations of women have stormed away from the typecast bounds of sexual objectification and subservience, there’s no reason why today’s leading ladies should bow to the checklist of zealous self-assertion, divine recognition, material possessions, perfect offspring, and that artificial and condescending construct of a “work-life balance” (all the while, not ageing a year beyond 30) to be truly successful.
That is not to discredit what so many female trailblazers have done for gender inequality as a whole with these accolades in tow. But, there is no universal image of success.
There is no secret sauce.
There is no quick fix.
Success is not even the pay-off of hard work – it’s just the acceptance of said hard yards. Our bumbling ingénue (I imagine her to be Kristen Stewart in sneakers and Chanel Métiers d’Art pearls and lace under a muddy raincoat) is allowed to remain bumbling and ingenuous in her success without any
pressure to embody some American Dream woman who fits Soul Cycle, and a green smoothie, and a coconut water, and World Peace, and yoga, and pick up the kids from school, and learning to code into one day. It’s totally ok for her to not be consistently composed or organised or have a 5-year plan It’s ok for her to walk in the wrong direction without realising when she gets out of the subway at Times Square.*
All that to justify my 6AM consumption of waffles after shooting this story in a muddy raincoat.
They weren’t even whole wheat.
And I had maple syrup.
*Literally me. Every day.