06th Jul 2020
Bridget Jones creator Helen Fielding says the original film wouldn’t have been made now – despite the film being based on instances from her own life
The author said she was “staggered” after a recent re-watch of Bridget Jones’s Diary due to the amount of sexism throughout.
Fielding said it was the first time she had seen the 2001 Renée Zellweger film (adapted from her novel of the same name) “in years and years”, and was surprised by its content, stating: “You couldn’t write that now.”
“I took my kids to see a screening of the movie. I hadn’t seen it for years and years, and I was staggered,” she said on Desert Island Discs.
Fielding says what seemed of the time when she originally co-wrote the screenplay (with Richard Curtis and Andrew Davies), was a different story decades later.
“The level of sexism that Bridget was dealing with, the hand on the bum in so many of the scenes,” she says, made “quite shocking for me to see how things have changed since then,” adding that she was particularly struck by a scene in which Bridget’s fictional boss demands “a shot of the boobs”.
She remains happy that Bridget never stays a passive victim.
“In the end, she [Bridget, played by Renee Zellweger] turned around and stuck it to them. But it was just part and parcel of her life, and it was quite shocking for me to see how things have changed since then.”
The single woman
She said she remains happy that Bridget is still so well received but says much of its success stems from the fact that “most comedy comes out of quite dark things.”
“And it was hard then to be a single woman – and it still is I think.”
Fielding added that the feminist criticism of her apparent “defeatist view of womanhood,” bothered her but explained that her heroine was always conflicted.
“That Bridget ends with a happy and romantic ending … was a bit of a red herring because Bridget does not straightforwardly just want a man,” Fielding explained.
“Having said that, I did deliberately put the line in Bridget Jones ‘There is nothing so unattractive to a man as strident feminism’, in the knowledge that it might annoy some people.
“At the time, Bridget said being a feminist with a capital F was another thing that she felt she wasn’t very good at. What’s great now is that feminism has sort of lost its capital F.”
Read more: Does silence lead to success? How ‘The Assistant’ unveils the cold reality of office sexism
Read more: Internalised sexism: how to spot it and how to undo it
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