WHY ARE THERE NO GOOD BOSSES?
“Florals for Spring? Ground-breaking.” If you don’t remember this bitch of a quote then I don’t know where you’ve been. Just to reiterate it’s Meryl Streep playing the role of Miranda Priestly, the editor of Runway magazine, a prestigious magazine which is basically a cinema version of Vogue in fashion-film The Devil Wears Prada.
Priestly is your typical-boss-bitch, she’s a Cruella De Vil of the fashion industry and she doesn’t take no for an answer. She leisurely orders around dorky intern Andy played by Anne Hathaway, compiling impractical tasks (including getting hold of the unpublished final Harry Potter – srsly?!) and does so in a manner so harsh you wonder why she hasn’t been burnt at the stake yet.
Consider most boss women within film: Margaret Tate in The Proposal, Katherine Parker in Working Girl. They’re cold, unsympathetic and slightly unrealistic. Of course, it’s film and if the boss wasn’t so evil we wouldn’t have had half as much fun watching it.
It’s true, some female bosses are absolute bitches, as are male. That’s just capitalism – but let’s consider the role of the girlboss. You know, that girlboss thing that everyone’s obsessed with at the moment.
If you type ‘girlboss’ into Urban Dictionary you get this:
“A woman in control, taking charge of her own circumstances in work and life. Someone who knows her worth and won’t accept anything less. She is not a “mean girl” in fact, she hates “mean girls”. She is empowering and inspiring to those around her. She kicks ass!”
OK, that’s great and all – these woman totally exist in real life, but do they exist in film?
Let’s consider the new Netflix series GirlBoss which is, quite possibly, the most marmite series we’ve seen in a long time. To recap, it’s a show about Sophia Amoruso, played by Britt Robertson, a young twenty-something who manages to become a millionaire business woman in the space of a few years all by setting up her on Ebay business. Pretty cool right?
Young Sophia is cool. Really cool. She’s got a fringe, she wears flared jeans, she eats pizza all the time and never gains any weight and yeah, she runs a business. But she’s also a bit of a dick. She’s a bitch to her best friend, she’s rude as fuck to everyone in the name of ‘cool’, she eats food with her feet and she cares about no one but herself. All in the name of a girl boss.
Sure, maybe she’s just a new breed of girl boss but whatever happened to nice bosses?
Alex Crabbe, 26, who’s currently doing a masters in Film, TV and Screen industries said “By portraying a character under a negative light, the character arguably carries more weight in the plot development. Memorable characters in film are often remembered for the fact that they antagonise the protagonist and encourage a character arc by introducing problems that the audience want to see solutions to.” Crabbe, who studied an undergraduate course in film noted, “I remember being told that antagonists are more memorable than protagonists because they drive the plot. Darth Vader is a prime example, everyone remembers him.”
He’s got a good point but what if the boss isn’t the main protagonist. Wilhelmina Slater from Ugly Betty for example. She has that cold bitch attitude we’re all to knowledgeable of, but why is her ‘mean’ role necessary? Why does the media continue to portray female bosses in a negative light?
Well according to Ryan Thomas*, 23, a personal MI, his ex-manager was pretty much as bad as the movies. “She would only look out for herself. Constantly taking priority on holiday’s, even if you’d already had it booked off. She flirted with all the guys and used her role as an excuse to be lazy – she literally didn’t do anything. And if she didn’t like you she would make sure that you didn’t have as many opportunities as others.”
But Francesca Simms*, 26, personal assistant in an insurance company, says otherwise. “Female managers have to be tough. We’re still at the place where sexism still exists and female bosses still aren’t taken seriously. She’s constantly in work mode and a lot of the people in the office think she’s a bit of a bitch, but I know she’s not like that out of work.”
So us at STANCE figure it’s a thing the media are doing to show that women are tough. Yeah, we are fucking tough, but tough doesn’t have to mean bitch.
Nadia Salmi, 36, a manager of an independent boutique in Angel said: “Retail seems to get a stigma. I don’t know whether it’s because retail is a predominantly female industry but people automatically assume it’s a bitchy environment. I don’t tolerate any bitchiness in my shop.”
So let us differentiate between the two. There’s good bosses and there’s bad bosses IRL. But when do you ever see good bosses in film? Umm… NEVER.
We think it’s about time the film industry starts introducing empowering female bosses who aren’t typical bitches and aren’t your new quirky, doesn’t-give-a-shit-about-anyone-because-she’s-too-interested-in-herself-types. We want an empowering boss who’s worked her way up in the world without being a bitch in order to get what she wants.
- names have been changed
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