As a young woman studying film, there’s often times I question certain films we discuss in class. Most of the films we talk about are by no means bad, but as I sit and reflect on films I have been required to watch for discussions or class assignments, I realize they’re predominantly catered towards a male perspective. It’s not that I don’t love films centered around men, but sometimes, I wish I could relate to more directors who target their projects to fit the female gaze.
It’s these thoughts that pop up more frequently as a result of Bottoms, a film directed and written by Emma Seligman. I first discovered Seligman’s work at 17 years old when the pandemic began. At that time, I was staying home with my parents and spent my last remaining months during my senior year of high school trying to pass the time. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon Seligman’s debut film, Shiva Baby, that I identified with a specific style of filmmaking.
The chaos and fast-paced panic felt so real to me as someone who was stuck at home having everyone around me ask what my future was going to hold. I quickly found myself relating to Shiva Baby’s main character, Danielle, as she struggles to find her place around her parents and feels trapped even in a room full of people. There I was, at home, figuring out my college plan when I didn’t even know if I had a potential future in college. There was something about Seligman’s style of filmmaking that stuck out to me, and I knew that she would become an important filmmaker based on the ideas she was speaking of in Shiva Baby.
Seligman’s latest project Bottoms follows two young women in high school as they create a fight club to hook up with their cheerleader crushes. The film stars Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri, who went to NYU with Seligman and began brainstorming the film’s concept in 2017. Sennott co-wrote Bottoms with Seligman to showcase LGBTQ+ representation without having a tragic element towards it. Sennott and Seligman have explained that they wanted to write a film that could be seen as a comedy for women, similar to Bring It On or Wet Hot American Summer. Edebiri also played a huge part in the creation of Bottoms, being the muse and inspiration behind her character, Josie, as a result of her witty comedic timing.
Women deserve to see wacky, raunchy comedies written by female writers and filmmakers that don’t end in heartbreak. It’s also incredibly important that young women who identify as lesbian or part of the LGBTQ+ community are given a film that allows them to laugh, rather than brushing off their sexualities. Bottoms makes it clear that sexuality is a huge driving point in the story, and no one is going to get in the way of what the two main characters desire. It’s this filmmaking style of boldness that we should be seeing more of, and giving a platform to those who desire to see themselves in a comedic film.
Now that I’m in my early 20’s, I’m no longer the same person who’s stuck at home trying to figure it all out. Sure, I still don’t entirely know what I’m doing 95% of the time, but no one truly does. As a culture writer, sometimes my friends ask me what I see as the future of film. Right now, it looks incredibly bleak (studios not financially compensating their writers or actors infuriates me), but directors like Seligman and writers like Sennott and Edebiri (who has been one of the voices in the Writer’s Guild picketing for proper compensation) have paved the way for the future generation of women in film.
They understand the hardships and beauty of being a woman, and have created a lasting impact on me as a writer and journalist. I hope they know how much not only I look up to them, but countless women and female-identifying individuals do as well.