Tag Archives: humourless feminist

Dear Aspiring Screenwriter

13 Mar

Dear Aspiring Screenwriter,

We are writing to thank you for the submission of your screenplay, The Common Life-Cycle of the Short-Beaked Garfish. We found it to be poignant and humorous with just the right touch of pathos, and feel that it is exactly the right fit for our studio. However, we do have a few notes about the protagonist Cate, and would like to see the following modifications made to the script:

– Name changed to something more “whimsical,” like Lula, Plum, Tulip or Pippa

– Tulip should have “quirkier” taste – maybe reads Salinger? Listens to “alternative” music? (Not too alternative)

– More emphasis on how “different” Tulip is and unlike other girls – should have a scene where she is dressed in feminine attire but holds her own drinking and trading lewd stories with the boys. Also maybe she drives a Vespa?

– Not sure why you describe Tulip as plain and “big-boned”????? Definitely should not be plain, unless in a girl-next-door or before-the-makeover sense. Audiences don’t respond to fat characters, unless in a humorous way. Should be no bigger than Jennifer Lawrence, maybe with her fresh-faced everywoman appeal. Viewers identify with Jennifer Lawrence.

– At least one scene where Tulip is lying on her couch in her underwear reading a book. Maybe David Foster Wallace to show her intellectual side?

– At least one scene where Tulip does something like jump into a lake fully-clothed to show how unconventional and care-free she is

– At least one sex scene – and no, the “awkward and uncomfortable blow job” she gives to the bartender in the bar bathroom does not count. Why does the scene end with her sharing a cigarette with him before she rejoins her friends? Why doesn’t she take him back to her place and then make him breakfast in the morning?

– Not sure that I buy Tulip as a full-fledged editor. Maybe an editor’s assistant? Seems more likely for a girl her age

– Definitely a vintage “feel” to Tulip’s look – full skirts (not too long), jewellery like you would find in your grandmother’s closet, “natural” looking makeup to emphasize her fresh-scrubbed beauty. Glasses with thick plastic frames for when she wants to be taken “seriously.”

– Maybe in the scene where Tulip is walking across the park describing her abortion to two of her close friends, some kids could be playing soccer nearby and accidentally kick the ball her way. Then she runs after it, and we see her doing some complicated footwork with the ball and running around with the kids for a few seconds before she kicks the ball into the net. Shows the ephemeral nature of life but also how quirky and unlike other people she is.

– Maybe instead of having an abortion she had a miscarriage? Or suffered the recent death of a family pet??? Not sure how abortion will play out with audiences, especially if she’s not consumed with regret. And really not feeling the line, “It was the easiest decision I’ve ever made.” Women don’t ever feel that way about abortion??

– Tulip seems to only have female friends?? Would like to see a male friend added to the mix, maybe someone who’s been in love with her for years and years. Maybe his name is Jack and he’s a sensitive, thoughtful writer type? Anyway how is Tulip going to drink with the boys if there are no boys.

– Not sure it’s believable that Tulip would break up with her boyfriend in order to pursue her career goals? She’s only an editor’s assistant after all. Maybe instead she could realize she has feelings for Jack?

– Instead of the “short-beaked garfish” maybe Tulip can be fascinated by butterflies. But quirky butterflies?

– Not sure why the script ends with Tulip boarding a plane by herself to Paris? Wouldn’t it be better if Jack went with her, and when they got there she helped him edit his book? No one goes to Paris alone

We very much look forward to reading your next draft! With these few small changes we really feel that we have a winner on our hands. Although of course little movies like this could never be our bread-and-butter (especially not with a female protagonist – that will eliminate at least half the population from wanting to see it), they are our labour of love and truly the work of which we are proudest. We very much look forward to producing The Common Life-Cycle of the Quirky Butterfly.

Kind regards,

Big Production Company


How The Oatmeal Turned Me Into A Humourless Feminist

23 Sep

There’s this comic from the Oatmeal that’s been making the rounds on my Facebook feed. It’s called My dog: the paradox, and it’s basically a sequence of short vignettes about how stupid and crazy (but ultimately loveable) this dude’s dog is.

Most of it is funny and cute, but the seventh panel really rubs me the wrong way. The image is of a woman (wearing a tank top, short skirt and heels) being confronted by a furiously barking dog. Said dog is being restrained by his frustrated-looking owner. The text is as follows:

He’s hostile towards people that I’d like to get to know better.

Woman: Aw, what a cute dog. Can I pet hi-


Let’s be clear about a few things here:

1. I know that Matt from the Oatmeal is trying to be funny

2. I know that this is not his opinion on women

3. I don’t think that he was trying to be cruel or malicious

4. I know that most of you will say that I’m overreacting (and maybe I am)

I can’t help it, though. I read stuff like the words written above, and my heart starts to beat a little faster. I start to feel a little nervous, maybe even a little panicky. That kind of language, used against any woman in any context, makes my hands go clammy.

The thing is, even though I get that this is supposed to be a joke, I can’t find it funny. I can’t find it funny, because that line of thinking up there? Isn’t actually that uncommon.

I know, I know, it’s not real life, and the whole damn comic is supposed to be about how stupid the damn dog is, anyway. I mean, right? Only a stupid, crazy dog would think things like that about a woman. Certainly no nice, rational human being would ever say stuff like that.

Except that I’ve known nice, rational human beings who have said stuff like that. Maybe not in those exact words, and maybe not with such vitriol, but certainly the idea behind the words was the same.

She’s wearing too much makeup

She dresses like a slut

If she gets raped, it’s her own fault

All women lie

All women play games

All women are crazy

We live in a culture of casual misogyny, you guys.

We live in a culture of casual misogyny, and when Matt from the Oatmeal writes out words like the ones above, he is contributing to it, even if he doesn’t mean to. Every time someone laughs at what he’s written, and maybe thinks they find a tiny grain of truth in it, they’re contributing to it. Every time someone dismisses another person’s concern and tells them that they’re overreacting, or don’t understand the humour, or just plain need to get over it, they’re contributing to it.

What I want you to remember is this: whenever you use words like this, even as a joke, you are helping to normalize it. You are helping to perpetuate the idea that it is okay, or even funny to talk about women this way.

If you still don’t see why this bothers me, try looking at it this way: imagine that instead of being a woman, the character in the comic is Jewish, or a person of colour. Imagine that instead of saying lying horsebeast slagbucket, the dog is saying, greedy hook-nosed kike, or lazy nappy-haired n-word, or any other type of hateful speech. Would you still be fine with it?

I’m not angry, and I’m not offended. Mostly I’m disappointed, because I thought that The Oatmeal was smarter and better than this. Mostly I’m tired, because my kid was up puking all goddamn night and instead of going to bed, I decided to just start writing this post, and then I couldn’t stop. Mostly I’m sad, because I dunno, everything kind of makes me sad sometimes.

When I was a teenager, I used to get so irritated with my mother, because she would dissect everything I found funny and explain to me why it was offensive and gross. And now I get it. God help me, I get it. I’ve finally turned into the humourless feminist my mother always wanted me to be.

Don’t worry, though – I still think poop jokes are hilarious.