I smell cookies. How is a person supposed to write while smelling cookies? I think one of my neighbors is baking, and I’d venture a guess that they have no intention of sharing, even though I’m sure not sharing cookies with anyone within smelling distance of said cookies violates the Geneva Convention…or the International Declaration of Human Rights…or something.
Not my neighbor’s cookies, obviously, but if I’m going to pretend I have cookies, they might as well be pretty cookies.
So we’d talk about that if we were having coffee. Then I’d spend the next ten minutes worrying about the fact that I might have inadvertently turned my parents into Netflix addicts.
“There’s actually a lot of stuff on here,” Dad said after I’d shown him how to log in and browse the content.
“There really is.”
“And how much does it cost?”
“$9.99 a month.”
“And how many movies can I watch for that price?”
“It’s unlimited; you can watch as much as you want, as many times as you want, for as long as you want.”
You’d have thought I told them Narnia is an actual place. Netflix is the new Narnia, except with snacks and WIFI. The problem is, they can’t find their way out.
It’s been roughly a week, and my parents have already mastered the fine art of binge-watching, casually throwing around phrases like “We’re going to make dinner. Then we’re going to Netflix and chill.” I did warn them that Netflix is dangerously habit-forming, and I granted them access to my account with the caveat that I expected them to view responsibly. In their defense, though, the autoplay feature does tend to rob one of any autonomy, and even the strangest shows become morbidly addictive—like black Mirror, for instance. What happens when technology allows you to replay your own memories? Can that guy really return from the dead? Is the Prime Minister really going to do that to the pig? (Spoiler alert: it almost never ends well). It’s like rubbernecking on the highway; you know you should look away, but you just can’t.
If we were having coffee, I’d ask you what you think a person’s Google Alerts reveal about their priorities in life. Mine are full of dead authors, my favorite TV shows, and my imaginary celebrity boyfriends. What do the president’s latest Twitter tantrums matter as long as I got to watch Colin Firth complimenting Halle Berry on her ability to hold her whiskey at Comic Con? (Judgement-free zone here, remember?)
A person’s Google Alerts reveal a lot about how they prioritize information. Why isn’t this a Buzzfeed quiz yet? “What do your Google alerts say about you?” Maybe No one else has ever equated Google Alerts with character assessment, and I’ve just unnecessarily outed myself as stranger than you already thought I was. Besides, I don’t vouch for the accuracy of any of those online character quizzes—except for those Hogwarts Sorting Hat quizzes that tell me I’m a Ravenclaw. Those are the real deal. You can’t take that away from me. Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure!
So, now it’s your turn; what have you been binge-watching on Netflix this week? What do your Google Alerts say about you? There’s still coffee left in my mug.
He’s left audiences spellbound with his Academy Award-winning portrayal of King George VI in “The King’s Speech.” He’s displayed a surprisingly impressive set of stunt skills in Matthew Vaughn’s “Kingsman: the Secret Service.” He carved a permanent place for himself in the hearts of women the world over with his tenderly authentic portrayal of Mark Darcy in “Bridget Jones’s Diary.” But there’s a bit more to Colin Firth than a dive into a lake and the fact that thanks to him no one else can ever win an ugly sweater contest ever again. Ever.
In honor of his birthday today, here’s a look at 5 times the world fell in love with Colin Firth.
1. His 2011 Golden Globes acceptance speech
When he scooped up his Best Actor award at the Golden Globes in 2011 for “The King’s Speech,” the first of many accolades, it was easy to forget for 50 seconds that Firth was drawing on the talent for which he was being awarded. Nonetheless, post-gameshow press recaps praised him for essentially showing showbiz how it’s done.
Go home, Hollywood. Colin’s got this one covered.
2. His moment of gallantry at the 2012 BAFTA Awards
Colin Firth doesn’t break the Internet very often, but we all remember flailing when Meryl Streep, in an adorable if inadvertent Cinderella impression, lost a shoe while mounting the stage to accept an award, and Firth, in true Prince Charming mode, retrieved it for her while his wife Livia looked on with an expression that clearly said, “Sorry, ladies. This one’s mine.”
On a side note, reenacting this scene in the rain while running to teach a class doesn’t conjure Colin from the shadows to save you, as I discovered, to my acute embarrassment. But that’s another story.
3. His jab at Ricky Gervais at the 2012 Golden Globes
Colin Firth is the king of deadpan, and that is all. When Ricky Gervais, albeit jokingly, called him a racist kitten-puncher at the 2012 Golden Globes, this was Firth’s response.
Colin Firth 1, Ricky Gervais 0.
4. His moment of appreciation for Jane Austen
In a 2006 interview, when asked to name the women in his life, Firth replied, “my wife, my mother, and Jane Austen.” While some of us have since speculated that this was largely a tongue-in-cheek jab at the fact that his role in the BBC’s wildly popular adaptation of Pride and Prejudice forever entrenched him in Darcy mania, I have to confess that despite my healthy skepticism, I allowed a tiny piece of my heart to drop into his hand at that moment. You’ve said it, Mr. Firth, and you can’t take it back.
5. His flawless improvisation as Mark Darcy
We’ve all seen “Bridget Jones’s Diary.” We all remember that fateful snowy kiss that was likely the primary catalyst for my decision to drag my last boyfriend with me to a wedding in Wisconsin in the dead of winter in the hope that he might be similarly inspired. (He wasn’t. Because you were wondering. And he’s not my boyfriend any more, for entirely unrelated reasons. Let’s be clear on that). But many people don’t know that Firth ad-libbed Mark Darcys forever classic line at the conclusion of that snowy kiss scene.
2pm. Oh why hasn’t Daniel rung? Hideous, wasted weekend glaring psychopathically at the phone, and eating things. I cannot believe I convinced myself I was keeping the entire weekend free to work, when in fact I was on permanent date-with-Daniel standby…Right: work. Beginning on Ash Wednesday: “I will not fantasize about or behave ridiculously regarding Daniel Cleaver, boss of my publishing house” is to be relaunched along with the other New Year Resolutions: I will not smoke, I will get down to 8st 7, I will not recycle items from the laundry basket, I will not bitch about Perpetua but work positively with her.
8pm. Phone call alert, which turned out just to be Tom asking if there was any progress. Tom, who has taken, unflatteringly, to calling himself a Hag-Fag, has been sweetly supportive about the Daniel crisis. (He has a theory that homosexuals and single women in their thirties have natural bonding; both being used to disappointing their parents and being treated as freaks by society.)
When the Independent relaunched the columns in 2005, Helen Fielding wrote candidly and, it should come as no surprise, self-deprecatingly, of the Bridget Jones project: “Back in the winter of 1995 I was trying to write an earnest and frankly unreadable novel about cultural divides in the Caribbean, and was rather short of cash. The Independent asked me to write a column, as myself, about single life in London. Much as I needed the money, the idea of writing about myself in that way seemed hopelessly embarrassing and revealing. I offered to write an anonymous column instead, using an exaggerated, comic, fictional character. I assumed no one would read it, and it would be dropped after six weeks for being too silly.” Yet twenty years, three sets of columns, three books, and two films later, Bridget Jones remains a prevailing pop culture icon.
Bridget Jones’s Diary, first published as a novel in 1996, has sold over 15 million copies worldwide, has appeared on the BBC’s “Big Read” list of 100 books everyone should read, and readers of the Guardian voted it amongst the 10 books that best defined the 20th century. The 2001 film adaptation, “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” starring Renee Zellweger, Hugh Grant, and Colin Firth, grossed a worldwide total of $281,929,795, and the 2004 sequel, “Bridget Jones: the Edge of Reason,” adapted from the second novel (1999), grossed $262,520,724 worldwide. Most recently, on June 18th of last year, Bridget Jones: Mad about the Boy (2013), the latest installment in the series, celebrated selling 1 million copies. From dieting to dating, starting a new job to single parenting, Bridget tells, with brutal honesty and self-deprecating humor, of the sometimes-hilarious, sometimes-heart-breaking truth of being a woman. For twenty years, readers have laughed, cried, and loved with Bridget, following every step of her life journey from her first date with Daniel Cleaver, to (SPOILER ALERT!) mourning the death of her husband, Mark Darcy (always remember…), and every cigarette, calorie, and croissant in between. So, in honor of one of the most beloved characters of Contemporary British Fiction, I give you: 20 reasons why we love Bridget Jones.
1. For making women everywhere feel less ashamed about harboring a secret fear of dying alone and being eaten by an Alsatian.
2. For the fact that, if you swap Glenn Close in “Fatal Attraction” for, appropriately, Renee Zellweger in “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” my Saturday nights pretty much look like this.
3. For introducing the term “emotional fuckwittage” into popular discourse, because it so eloquently and accurately encapsulates the post-breakup feeling of oscillating between heartbroken and hurling empty wine glasses at the wall. (Plus, unlike many words in the English language, the ease of pronouncing it increases with the number of alcohol units consumed).
4. For the time she actually *gasps* walked out on Mark Darcy.
It takes tremendous courage and a strong sense of self to stand up to someone you love the way Bridget does to Mark. From amidst spouting self-help platitudes and objections to obsessive-compulsive underpants folding, we can extrapolate a fundamental truth about all relationships here—that to love someone “just as you are” is far easier said than done. It involves recognizing that, however ashamed we might be to admit, we need validation. We need to be told and shown that we’re loved, if not exhaustively, at least often enough to feel emotionally secure. This is where Mark falls short until Bridget elucidates that for him.
5. For the time she didn’t beat Daniel Cleaver’s lousy, cheating arse to a bloody pulp when she discovered his infidelity.
Sometimes it takes more strength to walk away than it does to throw a punch (not that we will ever fault Mark Darcy for valiantly, albeit ineffectually, taking matters into his own fists).
6. On the other hand: sometimes, a good tongue-thrashing is the only way to get a point across.
Preach it, sista!
7. For the time she survived a horrifying experience in Thai prison with only a Wonderbra, a Madonna song, and a scrap of paper containing a Kipling poem as her tools of survival.
8. For the time she inadvertently stumbled upon the secret to gourmet cooking that Marco Pierre White certainly never shared with us: the way to a man’s heart is through a mess of blue soup and congealed green gunge.
9. For the time she had the courage to ask Colin Firth the question that has been torturing Pride and Prejudice fans for the past two centuries: “Do you think Darcy and Elizabeth would have had sex before the wedding?” (He thinks they would have, by the way. Obviously. Ya know, because you were wondering).
10. And speaking of Colin Firth, this interview just makes all of my fantasies look like the diverting daydreams of a perfectly sane, well-adjusted woman.
I no longer feel ashamed. Thank you, Bridget.
11. For educating us about the mystical properties of terracotta oil-burners, which do, in fact, take in milk. Ask Mark Darcy; he swears he saw it with his own eyes, and a barrister would never lie under oath.
12. For volunteering herself as the comic poster child for basic ski safety, such as, rule number 1: when skiing, always wear skis. Neglecting this usually doesn’t end well.
13. For believing that certain skills, i.e. the ability to ski, the ability to write eloquent Christmas cards, and developing inner poise, improve in direct proportion to number of alcohol units consumed while endeavoring to perfect said skills.
14. For reminding us that women of substance don’t pine over ex-boyfriends and sit waiting for the phone to ring in manner of Pavlov’s dog.
15. And then for making us feel better when we do engage in Pavlovian dog-like behavior and promptly indulge in breakup sex with said ex when he does decide to ring. Because people are human.
16. For the time she succeeded in getting Mark Darcy to defend the postmodernist merits of “Blind Date.” Because let’s face it, there’s something deeply satisfying about the knowledge that even hoity-toity top human rights barristers who drive fancy cars and live in wedding cake-shaped houses in Holland Park are still human enough to occasionally be slaves to mainstream popular culture.
17. (SPOILER ALERT!) For the time she helped Billy and Mabel to mail Father’s Day cards to Mark under the address “Daddy, Heaven, the sky.” Because sometimes being a single parent means accepting that, whatever you do, there is still a gap in your children’s hearts, and the only thing you can fill it with is extra love.
18. For her saint-like show of restraint at the smug married dinner party during which she was forced to endure Woney asking why she wasn’t married yet in a simpering voice while stroking her own visibly pregnant belly. Here’s the thing, all you Woneys of the world: when you ask a singleton that question, this is what we’re really thinking: “Because if I had to cook Cosmo’s dinner then get into the same bed as him just once, let alone every night, I’d tear off my own head and eat it.” But thanks to Bridget, we know that sometimes inner poise is nothing more than biting one’s tongue to avoid hurting someone’s feelings, and this is what makes us superior creatures and women of substance.
19. For educating readers about the pitfalls of tweeting under the influence of alcohol. Exhibit A:
11.07 p.m. @JoneseyBJ ‘They toil not, neither do they tweet.’ Hmm. No, they do tweet though. Thasu point with birds.
11.08 p.m. @JoneseyBJ Anyway f*** em. Stupid birds flapping around tweeting all over s place. Oh oh look at me! I’m a bird!
11.15 p.m. @JoneseyBJ Hate birds. Look at that movie ‘The Birds’! Birds can turn MAN-EATING.
11.16 p.m. @JoneseyBJ Pecking people’s eyes out with 60s hairdos. Vicious nasty birds.
@JoneseyBJ Noo! Follwers draining away as if through sieve.
@JoneseyBJ Nooo! Hate bireds Hatetweetings Hate drainqine away follwoers. An goingsoto bed!
I’m now going to keep that on my desktop as a caveat against “Twunking.”
20. For reminding women everywhere that sometimes feminism is not about political movements, or defying marriage statistics, or plotting ways to lock men in kennels until they’ve learned to wash their own socks and do the washing up, but about living honestly, being true to yourself, and listening to the quiet voice in your heart that tells you to love yourself, just as you are.
So, here’s to you, Bridget Jones, just as you are!
Ever since the 20th Century Fox panel at the 2014 Comic Con in July featured Matthew Vaughn’s upcoming film, “Kingsman: the Secret Service,” starring Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, and Samuel L. Jackson, social media and the popular press has been abuzz with speculation, and the question at the tip of every tweeter’s tongue has been: since when is Colin Firth an action hero? After months of anticipation, debates over the film’s supposed hyper-violence, and teasing trailers featuring Firth displaying an impressive set of stunt skills with—of all things—a weaponized umbrella, all questions were finally put to rest this past weekend with the film’s release. Take a look:
The story, based on the 2012 comic book series by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, tells of a secret, gentleman spy organization and how Harry Hart (Colin Firth) works to train a troubled-but-promising street boy, Eggsy (Taron Egerton) to work for the organization. As a debt of honor to Eggsy’s father, who had been a part of the organization and had lost his life to save Hart’s, Hart rescues the boy from a life of petty crime to mentor and train him. At the same time, the world is under threat from the villainous Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), a comically-twisted tech genius hell-bent on destroying the planet.
With film-producing credits like “X-Men: First Class” (2011) and “Kick-Ass” (2010) to his name, Matthew Vaughn clearly knows his genre and his audience well. At once hilarious and hair-raising, the film both satirizes and pays homage to the spy films of the 1960s and 70s; indeed, several scenes in which Hart and Valentine casually and comically converse about the genre, referencing such touchstones as the iconic James Bond movies, might just as easily be Firth and Jackson nostalgically reminiscing about such films. For me, the scenes involving Hart and Valentine were some of the most rewarding to watch; there is something deeply satisfying about seeing two seasoned actors at the top of their game facing off against one another and clearly enjoying every minute of it. The action sequences, which have raised a few concerned debates about hyper-violence, are no more than one would expect from a film of this genre; the weaponized umbrellas, explosives inconspicuously imbedded in a gentleman’s ring, and heads exploding spectacularly to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance” are all just tricks of the trade in the world of comic book heroes and gentleman spies.
Firth and Egerton have incredible screen chemistry, the mentor/mentee relationship between long-time actor Firth and newly-rising star Egerton lending a layer of realistically tender authenticity to the almost father-son bond that Hart and Eggsy form. Egerton shines brilliantly amidst the likes of Firth, Jackson, Mark Strong, and Michael Caine. Aside from the impressive action sequences, Firth’s role is not as much a departure from his usual work as speculation has led us to believe, for Hart’s character is deeply rooted in the trope of the English gentleman that often times seems as much Firth himself as the characters he portrays.
Vaughn has masterfully assessed his audience with this film, casting a wide enough net to ensure that there would be something for everyone to enjoy—especially on an intensely competitive box-office opening weekend, when the date-night entertainment tossup was a choice between “Kingsman” and “Fifty Shades of Grey.” While Vaughn’s latest film scored second in the President’s Weekend box-office total (with $42 million compared to “Fifty Shades’s” $94.4 million), it earned considerably more than “Kick-Ass,” which took in an estimated $19 million on opening weekend according to Entertainment Weekly’s latest report. Comic book and espionage film enthusiasts will appreciate both the action and satire of the genre, and Colin Firth fans will applaud his seamless transitioning between bespoke-suited gentleman and action hero. All in all, a well-rewarded wait for a much-anticipated movie.
The presents have been unwrapped, “Miracle on 34th Street” has been watched, “Happy Birthday Jesus” has been sung, the man in the red suit has done his annual drive-by (or is it fly-by?) under cover of darkness and childhood fantasies, and the last cookie crumb has been carried off by a hopeful house-mouse. That means only one thing: 2012 is officially breathing its last, so grab a hip flask and your favorite alcoholic beverage and settle in for a year-end review. If yours looks anything like mine, you’re going to need a drink or five. So, here goes:
Weight:………Ha! Made ya look. I don’t think so.
Jobs: 1 (hurrah. Am career woman extraordinaire…or impoverished graduate student with delusions of grandeur. It all depends on your point of view).
Status of Dissertation: almost complete (unless you count the fact that all chapters are in draft form and at least 5 pages short of the minimum required length. Re: point of view, positive attitude, glass half-full ETC.)
Boyfriends: 1 (V.G. Definite improvement in life situation).
Number of obsessive thoughts about Mark Darcy/Colin Firth: 16000000 (conservative estimate).
Number of times watched unveiling of Colin Firth’s wax figure on The Ellen Show: 3 (minimal due to irrational waxyfirthophobia).
Number of times watched “Hobbit” trailer to hear Martin Freeman exclaim, “I’m going on an adventure!”: 3054830 (approx. Is natural and just, though, considering adorable factor of Martin Freeman).
Number of books read: 44 (disgusting, illiterate slob. Must improve).
Number of books read from the BBC’s list of 100 books everyone should read: 1 (positively Philistine).
Number of films scene: 4 (serious lack of dedication to supporting the arts. Must really try harder in 2013).
Number of films seen in theater: one (Bad. Clearly have become victim of technology and convenience of Netflix, online streaming, ETC.)
Number of Colin Firth films seen: two (pathetic beyond what words can express. Have resolved to redouble efforts and complete Firth filmography project by end of 2013).
High points of year: My trip to Boston (though not, perhaps, the incident involving a very muddy guidedog and a disgruntled bellhop); discovering that I can, contrary to previous belief, attract decent heterosexual males (*crosses fingers*); Sherlock series 2 (except psychological trauma re: fake suicide and suspense over pending return of supposedly-dead detective)
Low points of year: Discovering that, according to this article in the Daily Mail, Colin Firth actually claims to hate Christmas. Something inside of me has died. All hope and joy have gone from the world. This must be how Dorothy felt when she pulled back the curtain and saw a shriveled old prune of a man instead of a god-like sorcerer type figure in manner of Gandalf or Albus Dumbledore…or how Bridget Jones felt upon discovering that Mark Darcy votes Tory. I’m completely overlooking the fact that the above Article appeared in The Daily Mail and consequently contains about as much truth as a politician’s promise. There’s just no cure for that kind of paradigm-shattering trauma. If you were planning to tell me that the Easter Bunny isn’t real, now might not be the best time; I’m just a bit too fragile at the moment.
2013 Resolutions: Finish dissertation (because, well, this isn’t negotiable), eat healthier, drink less alcohol (except for medicinal purposes…like stress…or watching any movie in which Colin Firth dies), put DVDs back in cases after watching, keep up with laundry, washing up, and other house chores, work out at the gym at least three times a week, work on inner poise.
Question: How has your 2012 been? What are you looking forward to in 2013?