Comedy, just like any genre of film, can be broken down into various subsections. Satire, rom-com, dark comedy, indie, raunchy, buddy, the list goes on. But here is one subsection I don’t know that we consider enough, though it is a large portion of comedic content today: the stupid boy comedy. This, as the name I just gave it suggests, is a film where one of the main plot points is that the (male) characters are so unbelievably stupid that they get themselves in ridiculous scenarios and only make them worse in trying to get out. Examples include The Hangover (the whole dang trilogy), Anchorman (and its sequel), Neighbors, (and its sequel, notice a trend?), both 21 and 22 Jumpstreet, This is The End, and even TV shows like It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia and Workaholics.
I’m a fan of most of, if not all of these movies and shows, so I’m not highlighting this genre to suggest that there is anything wrong with it. In fact, looking at the reception of these films and how many warranted sequels, it’s clear that this is one of the most thriving areas of comedy right now. What is most interesting to me about this genre is that the one common thread through them is male characters. No films like this exist with women as the lead, which just makes me wonder: why can’t we let women be stupid?
Off the top of my head, the only movie I can think begins to fit this description with a female dominated cast is Bridesmaids. But if you follow the three rules of the stupid boy comedy, which I just made up myself, but I swear they are true, it does not fit the mold.
- Rule Number 1: There must be multiple lead characters in the film. It should be a group cast kind of film, not a solo lead.
- Rule Number 2: All of the leads are dumb. And together, their immaturity is a force. Their moronic ideas pile on top of each other until you as a viewer have lost brain cells watching it.
- Rule Number 3: The idiocy is never punished properly. They get away with it. Their absurdity is borderline heroic.
And in Bridesmaids, Annie is the only stupid character, and everyone around her brings this to light, and isolates her for it. The same can be said for female led movies like Trainwreck, or Mean Girls.
In comedy, women are often limited to playing the tight-ass, a romantic character, or the voice of reason. In the male dominated films I mentioned, there are women in them, they just usually are removed from the stupid actions of their male leads, or are trying to tell them to stop immediately. But if such a dominant theme in comedy is stupidity, then why not include women in on the dumb fun?
Of course, one answer is that women are rarely given ample opportunity to show off their funny side on screen. It was considered progressive that we made an all-female Ghostbusters, but I think if we really want to show progress here, we should actually write original content for women. But hey, baby steps?
But the real reason we never get to see wacky ladies is probably because we, traditionally, don’t like stupid women, aside from the dumb blonde trope. If a woman is being stupid, it needs to be contrasted by a smart man so that her whimsical lack of intelligence is the punchline of a joke.
The situations men get themselves into in these films is raunchy and barbaric, which are traits we don’t often give women. It’s not glamorous, or pretty, or sexy, and those are just about the only things Hollywood wants women to be.
And even though stupidity may not be a term of endearment, at the very least it’s fun and a change of pace. Women should be able to play all kinds of people across all genres, even if it is “negative.” Especially if this one trait is dominating a major genre of film, closing women off from it is wrong to say the least.
And considering women pull in box office numbers, combining them with this blockbuster style is a no brainer. If Hollywood were smart, they would have started milking this concept until it was dry a long long time ago.
So, let’s see women be stupid. It’s an important step to finding gender equality in comedy. For whatever reason, we still have to prove that we can do anything men can do. And I swear, we can do it better.