Thursday, May 24th, 2018
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Where Are All The Female Stoner Films?

Stoner movies aren't really the best education on weed culture, I'll be honest with you. If you learnt everything about toking up from watching comedies like Pineapple Express (2008) and This is the End (2013), you know that men like to get really high. They roll up joints and blunts, take plenty of hits on bongs and bowls, and order in family-size pizzas.

Smiley Face stoner

Stoner movies aren’t really the best education on weed culture, I’ll be honest with you. If you learnt everything about toking up from watching comedies like Pineapple Express (2008) and This is the End (2013), you know that men like to get really high. They roll up joints and blunts, take plenty of hits on bongs and bowls, and order in family-size pizzas. They’ll also go on mad stoned trips with their mates and do other fun-sounding stuff. It’s all very dude-ish, to be honest.

But, there are some women (who would have thought?), who enjoy doing those things, too. A lot of them, probably. That said, I find it a little weird when I watch another Seth Rogen stoner comedy and see no female tokers chilling with the guys. Like, anywhere. If women happen to exist in these very bro-fest stories, their main purpose is to serve as a background prop or be that ‘annoying’ girlfriend who doesn’t like her man smoking. (Which, is fairly valid, but of course instead of rationally listening to her, she is labelled the ‘bitch’.)

With more women claiming their love for weed, either medicinally or for recreational use, it only makes sense for those experiences to be translated to film. There is an audience for it. That crossover has far from happened, though. The fact that the only female-led stoner comedy movie out there is Gregg Akari’s Smiley Face, featuring Anna Faris, is a problem. It came out in 2007. Eight years is a long time to not tell the narratives of toke-loving girls, especially when the attitude towards ganja is changing so much.

So why are women so removed from stoner movies?

Toking women exist, just not in movies

For the last couple of years, legalisation has been a major point of political discussion and activism, online and off.  In America, more and more states are becoming pro-cannabis, both for medicinal and recreational use. Other countries are currently in conversations about their drug policies and it seems like governments are starting to see the benefits. There is some actual progress happening.

source: First Look International

Smiley Face (2007) – source: First Look International

While drug laws are moving in a positive direction, how much of an effect is it really having on the public consensus of weed smokers? Rihanna and Miley Cyrus, like other young women who smoke unashamedly, are faced with such unnecessary criticism online when they claim their love for ganja. They’re ‘disgusting‘ or ‘gross‘ or ‘repulsive‘ or whatever degrading name people can think of. It’s not just the famous tokers like Cyrus and Rihanna who get stick for smoking –  other women are on the receiving end of it too. The Snoop Doggs, Wiz Khalifas and Seth Rogens of the world on the other hand? They’re praised. Their love for weed is fine and their stoner badge accepted without judgement. I think there’s a pattern, here.

Women actually make up a good amount of weed smokers in America (which is where most stoner films are produced), but, as a gender, we are still excluded from the mainstream’s idea of people who like getting high. Once in a blue moon you’ll get Cameron Diaz in Bad Teacher (2011) or Jennifer Aniston in Wanderlust (2012); characters who smoke and aren’t there for decoration purposes. But them sparking up isn’t central to the plot, and there is an awkwardness about how they were both depicted.  In Diaz’s case, taking a hit on her pipe was presented in a way to make you feel sorry for her. Oh, look at this poor women trying to light up her bong on Christmas Day. Aniston’s situation felt too much like peer-pressure to be any fun.

That’s the difference between what could be classified as a stoner film or not – Seth Rogen’s movies tell weed-centric stories without judging the characters. They’re free to get blazed as much as they please, whereas women in other films don’t have that privilege. Maybe that is an honest reflection of how our culture is still adjusting to the idea of someone who isn’t a dude enjoying a toke up, but that’s no excuse for the severe lack of happily high ladies in film.

The revolutionary stoners

While movies are struggling to come to terms with the idea that women wouldn’t mind watching other women getting stoned and hanging out together, it is TV that has stepped up to tell an authentic story about female smokers.

Broad City (2014) – source: Comedy Central

Broad City (2014) is the stoner comedy that film is missing. The programme centers around Abbi (Abbi Jacobson) and Ilana (Ilana Glazer), two broke women living in New York, who are kind of revolutionary tokers. Pop culture has never had weed lovers like them before.  They pack their own bongs, roll fat joints and eat a mountain of munchies with stoner pride. They like drinking and having a good time, too, and they’re not shamed for that, either. (Basically, they’re your new best friends.)

The show’s attitude towards lady smokers is so refreshing. In the first episode, Abbi and Ilana secure an 1/8th and I’m pretty sure, apart from in, say, Skins or something, this is the first time I’ve seen women picking up their weed on screen. It’s these small nuances that start to strip away the stereotypes about stoners and the assumptions that guys are the only ones who want to get high. It’s a genderless passtime (or a way to help with physical pain) and it should be treated as such.

If Broad City can deliver funny, well-rounded and relatable female stoners, film is in the position to do the same. It’s given a voice to part of the stoner community that has long been ignored. Now that Western society is slowly adjusting to the idea of legalisation, in time, people may very well get to grips with the idea that  there are different types of people who like to smoke weed. Maybe then we’ll see a women leading the charge in a new wave of stoner cinema.

Which actresses would you want to see toking up in a female-fronted stoner comedy?

(top image: Smiley Face (2007) – source: First Look International)

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Opinions expressed in our articles are those of the authors and not of the Film Inquiry magazine.

Cherokee is a 20-something human from London, UK. She has a morbid fascination with Justin Bieber, is a collector of cute hats and watcher of bad Asian rom-coms and B-movies. She can usually be found in her fortress of solitude - lying in bed with a comic book in hand. You can check out more of her writing at www.cherokeeseebalack.tumblr.com. Jim Jarmusch is her hair inspiration, Tahar Rahim is her forever-film crush and one day she hopes to be as cool as Marlon Brando.

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