Bridget Jones‘ creator Helen Fielding has said she is now “staggered” by the sexism her heroine faces in the first film.
Fielding co-wrote the screenplay for 2001’s Bridget Jones’ Diary based on her iconic 1996 novel of the same name.
The film was a big hit at the box office and Renee Zellweger earned an Oscar nomination for her performance as Fielding’s endearing singleton – a rare achievement for an actor in a rom-com.
However, over the years Fielding’s character has also been criticised as “vapid”, “anti-feminist” and “irrelevant” to a new generation of millennial women. Even fans of the franchise acknowledge how problematic many aspects of it now feel.
Fielding, who has since written another three novels in the series, admitted that she was taken aback when she re-watched Bridget Jones’ Diary recently.
“I took my kids to see a screening of the movie. I hadn’t seen it for years and years, and I was staggered. You couldn’t write that now,” Fielding said in an interview with Lauren Laverne on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs.
Singling out moments which took her by surprise, Fielding continued: “The level of sexism that Bridget was dealing with, the hand on the bum in so many of the scenes, Richard Finch [Bridget’s boss, saying): ‘Let’s have a shot of the boobs’.”
Fielding pointed out that “in the end [Bridget] turned around and stuck it to them”, but acknowledged that sexism was “just part and parcel of her life”.
“Things have now changed, happily,” Fielding added.
Fielding also suggested that her heroine might be more comfortable identifying as a feminist in 2020 than she was back in the day.
“I think, at the time, Bridget said being a feminist with a capital F was another thing that she felt she wasn’t very good at,” Fielding said. “What’s great now is that feminism has sort of lost its capital F.”
Fielding admitted that criticism of Bridget Jones “gets to” her, but countered that “it is a bit of a red herring” to get too “hung up” on her character’s actions.
“The way Bridget operates is the way your friends operate,” she said. “When you see your friends at the end of the day, you do not go and say, ‘I’ve been such a marvellous feminist’.
“You say, ‘You’d never believe what happened to me today’ and then you support each other.”
Desert Island Discs is available to listen to now on BBC Sounds and BBC Radio 4.
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