Kristen Wiig Leaves SNL: Comedy Loses a Feminist Icon
Last Saturday, Kristen Wiig shed tears, drank beer, and rocked out with the Foo Fighters to commemorate the end of seven years on Saturday Night Live.
Men and women have admired Wiig for her hilarious skits and personable movie characters. In an industry that is notoriously male-dominated, Wiig is a strong, female, comedienne, and I am sad to see the end of her time on SNL.
While other industries are striving towards gender equality, the film industry seems to be lagging behind. The root of modern day pop culture, and widely idolized by young people today, Hollywood should represent women in a more equitable manner.
Of the 250 top-earning films of 2010, women held a mere 16% of the major jobs, such as actors, producers, and directors. In 2010, a shocking 5% of movie directors were female. It is no surprise that, as a result of male dominance in film production and writing, female characters are often one-dimensional. This problem is especially apparent in the recent trend of “debauched, bro-humor” comedies, such as Superbad, Role Models, Knocked Up, and the Hangover. I thoroughly enjoyed all four of these movies, but couldn’t help to notice the marginalization of women.
Nicholast Stoller, director of Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek explains that, in order to appeal to the public, “You need to make the actress completely adorable, or else she’ll be thought of as the straight man or the bummer.” Similarly, Mila Kunis attests to the objectification of women in Hollywood: "The bottom line is if you’re an attractive female in this industry, people take you as just that: attractive.:
In a sexist industry, Kristen Wiig has succeeded not just as another funny, silly actress, but as a personable and witty writer. She has written and acted some of the funniest skits in recent years. Her clever impersonations of the overanxious Target Lady, the socially, physically, and mentally challenged Doonese, mischievous Gilly, and Suze Orman are loved by many. Most importantly, perhaps, she is the first woman on SNL to be the most popular actor at a point in time. There have always been appreciated comediennes on the show, but they were always second to a more popular male actor.
She also dominates in the movie industry, and was named one of Entertainment Weekly’s 25 Funniest Women of Hollywood in 2011. With Annie Mumolo, Wiig wrote Bridesmaids, a comedy hit with an all female cast. Grossing $26.2 million on opening weekend, Bridesmaids humanized women, portraying their weak moments, as well as their most attractive. Judd Apatow produced the movie, as well as Role Models, Superbad, and Knocked Up. Apatow stuck to his usual routine of bro humor, and Wiig and her fellow actresses completely rocked it. The female characters are humanized and relatable, almost excessively with the food-poisoning-generated barf scene in a bridal store.
Their characters are not just pretty celebrities, the way a romantic comedy actress like Jennifer Aniston’s usually are; they are our friends.
Bridesmaids demands acknowledgement of females in comedy, and has received the admiration of many actresses. Mila Kunis praises Bridesmaids: "That movie's full of beautiful women who are hysterical. I'm so proud of those ladies. You have no idea how hard it is for a woman in this business. A lot of people don't even think women are funny. It's f--ked-up, but you have to deal with guys like that. I've learned to roll with it."
In response to being asked if she’s a feminist, Wiig attests to sexism in movie business.
Despite the ending of an era, Wiig’s departure from Saturday Night Live will hopefully mean more movies like Bridesmaids. It seems like directors are catching on to how funny women can be- Wiig is in six movies to be produced between now and 2014.