Despite its phenomenal success as a series of books and then films, Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones work has never been treated as high art. If it has any chance of enduring, however, it’s because of what Fielding says in this insightful quote I just came across. She says Bridget speaks to people as a character because she represents “the gap between how we feel we are expected to be and how we actually are” — a symptom, she adds, of our self-help, media-saturated age. In that way, Bridget’s just as relevant to modern times as Gatsby was to the ’20s.
Funny works have a harder time being seen as timeless classics, but I posit that we’ll have to let more humor into the enduring canon if we truly want to document the last two decades for posterity. Irony and cynical humor are the currency of the modern age — think Seinfeld, 30 Rock, The Daily Show. If those don’t represent our era, I don’t know what does.