50,000 people are attending Sundance Film Festival this year, and yes, amazing for them, but what are the other 7 billion people on the planet supposed to do for cultural edification over the next several days?
Lucky for everyone, Sundance is streaming its panels and conversations on YouTube and the fest has really brought a bunch of increds people together to have increds dialogues with each other. Sarah Silverman talked with fellow comedian Tig Notaro about the fine line between comedy and tragedy (start at 15:09 mark), Actresses Saoirse Ronan and Toni Collette chatted about acting with accents (start at 16:20 mark) . But my favorite, so far, has been the “Serious Women” panel, which aired Saturday, featuring a bunch of women who are VERY serious about being funny: Mindy Kaling, Lena Dunham, Kristen Wiig, and creator of Weeds/Orange is the New Black Jenji Kohan. The panel was moderated by Emily Nussbaum, TV critic for the New Yorker, who is one of my favorite minds in the cultural conversation and one of the few people alive I think I would hardcore geek in front of if we ever met.
The convo was, obviously, SPECTACULAR! This dream team of lady power talked about everything from beauty standards to motivation, and from fame to the problem of campus sexual assault. Before you hunker down to watch the hour-long panel, allow me to share with you some of the moments of pure genius:
Kristen Wiig talks about how “weird and kind of awful sometimes” it is being recognized in public:
“I try to articulate how I talk about this because I really don’t want to sound like a douchebag. But sometimes it can be difficult when you just want to be the person you were when you could just walk down the street. I do think there is a balance between someone liking your work and wanting to take your picture and wanting to talk to you and other people just like [take your picture] without asking your permission just so that they can put it somewhere. We all have phones and we all have cameras and there’s just no privacy anymore and sometimes it really bums me out.”
Mindy Kaling spills the secret of her success:
“I have a personality defect where I sort of refuse to see myself as an underdog. It has gotten me into a lot of trouble but it is also the reason for my success. I often am reminded of it when people ask me why I am so confident, why wouldn’t I be? It’s because my parents raised me with the entitlement of a tall, blonde, white man. That’s the way to do it, picture yourself as Armie Hammer on the outside.”
Kristen Wiig shared the awkwardness of transitioning from comedy to drama:
“I did this movie and I was like, ‘OK, this is my serious [role]! And people were laughing and I wanted to be like [pretends to turn around in her seat], ‘This is serious! I remember when we shot [a dramatic sequence], we were ‘Oh my god, this is so sad. Poor thing.’ And people were laughing! I was a little bothered by it at first because I got nervous that people just weren’t going to take me seriously ever, and I really tried in that movie. It was the first really dramatic thing I had done. But I get it. People are going to know you how they know you. Even when I go to dinner, people are like, ‘Talk in a [funny] voice!’”
Lena Dunham came down hard on the issue of censorship:
“In some ways America is at its most puritanical. The fact is people are forgetting that humor is a tool for debate,” she added. “That boycott, censorship, shut ‘em down approach to humor shows a very basic lack of understanding of what humor can do for us culturally and what it has always done.”
Lena Dunham talked about why it is important to keep the campus assault conversation alive:
“One of the reasons it is important to talk about campus assaults is that that these women in positions of incredible privilege are still being forced every day to fight for their truth and that is indicative of the fact that sexual assault is an epidemic and so many people are voiceless. I think campuses are a great place to start because that’s where we’re being educated and that’s where we’re told we’re going to be safe.”
Jenji Kohan revealed what motivates her to be brills:
“I’m driven by ‘I’ll show you, f— you. I don’t know if it’s healthy or not.”
And finally, Mindy Kaling had some truly amaze things to say about confidence, diversity and beauty standards:
“So many girls who look up to me or are interested in me are young girls of color who have been told they’re ugly and who feel that they are not normal. It’s so important for women who look like me — or who look different than me — can find themselves beautiful and be objects of love and attention and affection. I feel sad when people say, ‘You were the first person who made me feel like that was possible.'”
Oh, just go ahead and watch the whole thing. You will not regret it.