"The Intern" will make you do a lot of things: appreciate the nice-dude/want him to be my dad genius of Robert De Niro. Covet Anne Hathaway's fashion e-tailer's stylish wardrobe. Dream of a beautiful, spacious New York apartment.
It will also make you rethink your stance on women crying in public.
Often seen as a shameful act of weakness, crying women have long been stigmatized. You know how when a baby falls down, it doesn't usually register that it's a bad or scary thing on its own? It's when the parents or those around it gasp and freak out and rush into action that baby realizes, "oh, this is a bad thing. I'm supposed to be scared! Time to bawl!" After seeing "The Intern," I think we should drop women crying (or anyone crying, this just tends to get heaped onto women more often) into the same category.
There are two instances of women crying at work in the movie, both because they feel strongly about what they perceive as a professional injustice. Hathaway's character is told that her company's investors have mentioned wanting to see a more seasoned CEO (the subtext here is "not a young woman") take charge of the company. She starts crying during the conversation, and it's not commented on. Guess what: it's OK to feel strongly about things. It's OK to care. You should care. If that overwhelming feeling of caring manifests as tears, that's fine. That's just the way your brain chemistry is wired. So she sheds a few tears, gets a little splotchy, and continues on with the conversation.
She doesn't freak out, the person she's having a conversation with doesn't freak out. Life goes on, and it's not a big deal.
The other instance of a woman crying in the workplace in the movie is similar, but not exactly the same. A young woman, Hathaway's character's underling, is given "more help" without asking for it, making her feel slighted and like her boss thinks she's not capable of doing her job. Again: I'm in full support of giving a s--t. A male coworker comforts her, and she reveals what her issue is, then works to improve it.
There's also the issue of The Handkerchief. If "The Intern" was running on a political platform, it would be in support of the return of the hanky. De Niro's character carries one, and loans it out. He advises his younger colleagues to carry one as well. It's always good to carry one, he says, because then you always have one to offer.
All told, I think there's an underlying message to "The Intern." There's a message of female empowerment that's front and center in the movie, but quieter, underneath that, there's the more subtle, specific mantra: it's OK to feel the things you're feeling. Use the trick we learned from babies falling down: the world takes cues from how you're acting. If it's not a big deal to you, it's not a big deal to them.
Too often, women are made to be embarrassed and ashamed of "being emotional," wherein "emotional" is code for crying and showing weakness. But aren't laughing because you're happy or smiling because you're proud emotional as well? If you've ever gotten a stern talking-to or a disappointed lecture from a superior, your boss is also displaying emotion, and those smiling or being outwardly disappointed aren't made to feel ashamed of it. So let's broaden the spectrum of acceptable "emotion" in the workplace, shall we? Real life should -- and can -- be more like "The Intern" experience.
"The Intern" hits theaters September 25.