This blog is evolving, as these things do. When I started it a little while ago I wasn’t really sure how it was going to look or what it was I actually had to say. I’m a writer with strong opinions about how the world should and shouldn’t be. Despite my passion I have a sense a times that I’m floundering but as I write each week I am beginning to recognise an emerging sense of purpose.
I not only want to write stories but I want to find them, share them in order re-shape how we think about what stories are, specifically about women. I want to shift the conversation around women’s lives and experiences to reflect the diversity of women in the world. This is a selfish goal because I no longer want to hear the same story. I don’t want my children (daughter or son) to have a fixed idea of what their future, or their self-image should look like. I am not interested in generating pleasing narratives of passive, beautiful and highly sexualised (by this I mean for the pleasure the male gaze) representations of women.
Instead, I’m hoping to build a new vision through celebrating the amazing work of those who break these moulds.
If you haven’t watched Hannah Gadsby’s Netflix special “Nanette” yet, you should. It is a masterpiece. It is something that all people should watch, not just women, or gay women, or comedians, or artists; everyone.
Gadsby states part-way through her show that she is very good at her job. She understands tension. She understands how to make the audience feel, and she does. The first half to two-thirds of this stage show works within, if not at the edge, of our expectations of a comedy show. Gadsby is funny, insightful while making the kind of quips that we have come to expect. This is interrupted by brief insights into where the show is going. For example, she states that she can’t do comedy anymore because she refuses to be self-depreciating. At this the audience erupts. This is something we can all get behind. Then she lifts the mood, allowing us to settle back into our comfort zone. This is how the show develops, with Gadsby pressing a raw emotion, then drawing us back.
Yet as each cycle of story and comic relief spins, Gadsby draws us further out from our complacency. The things she says aren’t funny. Not because Gadsby isn’t funny, but because she forces us to see them for what they are. I don’t want to give away what she says because it is, in my opinion, vitally important that we, as her audience, allow her to draw us through her story. It is not my story to tell, but it is a story that I needed to hear. I needed to squirm in my white, straight, middle-class privilege. I needed to feel uncomfortable with laughing. I needed to care enough to cry (which I did).
Hannah Gadsby says she is done with comedy. I hope she isn’t done with storytelling.
I add “Nanette” to the first strands of a new tapestry in my life.