After a frustrating day at work, or with broken hearts, millions of women across the world get into their Snoopy Dog pyjamas, grab a bucket of chocolate ice cream and pull out a Bridget Jones DVD, seeking comfort. This has always been a mystery to me. I never understood how this naive, clumsy and clueless character could accompany so many women through their break-ups, sorrows or melancholic nights with girlfriends. Bridget Jones couldn't make me laugh, let alone comfort me. She makes me terribly worried for her, for myself and for womanhood in general.
Since "Mad about a boy," the latest Bridget Jones epic by Helen Fielding was released on October 10th, women have been reminiscing about reading or watching Bridget Jones diaries; about how they preserved Bridget Jones in their hearts; and how they believe there is something of Bridge in every woman. Me? No, I have never mistakenly thrown myself at a man in the bar, I have never been locked in public toilets and I have never sent a sexy message to my boss instead of my boyfriend. Neither have I eaten cereal out of a box. And, I assure you, I'm far from being an uptight control freak.
I understand that Bridget Jones has much in common with women than the skinny Sex and the City protagonists who live the high life in New York, buying Louboutins, nibbling on overpriced sushi and drinking champagne in swanky Manhattan bars. Bridget buys Top Shop and her knickers are the size of a parachute. In fact, Bridget is very real. Maybe this is why she makes me sad. She is an ultimate prototype of a lost and lonely contemporary urban woman. Her character conjures up the big city blues of life in a capital, where egos clash in a storm of ambitions and where nobody is prepared to attach themselves to anybody for fear that it will slow them down on their way to success. And here she is, naive and full of hope, clumsily overcoming or, more usually, falling at, the hurdles of big city life.
Doesn't this remind you of another famous film character? Charlie Chaplin's Tramp. Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones is a product of her chaotic times in the same way that Charlie Chaplin's Tramp emerged from the early 20th century capitalistic boom. They are both good-hearted and slightly childish, pretending to be somebody they are not, creating a series of comic situations. Ultimately, it is misery made funny. Chaplin's Tramp lives in a world where factory workers are tired out while the factory owner plays with puzzles. Bridget Jones also evolves in a socially competitive and cruel world. Both of these characters make viewers laugh (nervously?) about some of the hardest things that happen in the times we live in.
There have been a lot of female comic heroines in British and American cinema but they have come and gone. Bridget Jones has stayed. Her polka-dot, oversized knickers stand proudly next to the Tramp's baggy and worn out track suite in the history of fictional characters. Equality has been achieved.