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If you didn’t have the chance to attend the T.G.I.M. screenings on August 6, you missed a handful of really fine films, and kicking off Season 9 was a short film by Justin Miller about a woman named Peggy.

Peggy is hosting a birthday party for her little boy. But we don’t meet Peggy initially. Instead, we meet two guests as they are dressing for the party and wrapping a present for the birthday boy.

The backyard party is something out of Michael Jackson’s Neverland. Although it doesn’t have a narrow gauge railroad, Ferris wheel, carousel or petting zoo, it does have an immense bounce house and other features that none of the other parents have a chance of replicating when it comes time to stage parties for their own children. In fact, from the cake to balloons, the grounds reek of perfection and that earns Peggy the near-unanimous opprobrium of her friends, neighbors and even her husband, who echo a common refrain in their internal dialogue: “Fuck you, Peggy!”

Several guests have converted their contempt into passive-aggressive action by bringing along birthday gifts that Peggy is certain to abhor. One brings a dart gun, and Peggy’s own husband gives his son a brand new puppy which he hopes will drive his wife crazy by doing his business all over Peggy’s perfectly-kept house, much to her vexation and chagrin.

But God loves Peggy, and sends an owl to swoop down and snag the little dog in his sharp, extended talons. Seeing what’s about to happen, the guest who brought along the dart gun dives for the weapon and takes aim at the owl. But the dart sails under the soaring target, striking the bounce house, which deflates ignominiously as Peggy smiles beatifically over how Fate has intervened to not only excuse her from having to take care of the pet, but simultaneously hoisting her husband onto his own petard.

While celebrity judges Justin Verely, Dr. Wendy Chase and Dana Roes each felt that the film’s production value could stand some improvement, they found uniformly that the film was fun, enjoyable and wryly humorous, and should be granted admission into the film festival in April.

“The irony worked well for me,” said Dr. Wendy Chase, who also enjoyed the acting.

“I also thought it was pretty funny,” agreed filmmaker and film festival organizer Justin Verely. “I also like the part where they were going around and everyone was mouthing that Peggy should go fuck off.”

For her part, FSW art instructor and abstract artist Dana Roes found the storyline “hysterical,” noting that although the film got off to a bumpy start, “they pulled it off and they pulled it off well.”

“I really thought that the people who made this film had their fingers on pulse of what makes people laugh and how to make something that is everyday life funny,” said one audience member. “I really liked the quality and think they’re really going to go places.”

The funniest moment came when an second audience member spoke into the microphone that Melissa DeHaven offered and said, “Well my name is Peggy so I really enjoyed it.” After the laughter died down, she was quick to add. “While I’m not like her, I know women like her.”

And that’s probably why Peggy resonated with the audience and judges.

Studies have shown that uncommonly good-looking women are uncommonly advantaged in many respects, starting in school, where teachers are more likely to call on them. A 2005 Harvard study found that there is a “beauty premium.” Because physically-attractive men and women enjoy greater confidence, they are considered (rightly or wrongly) more able by their employers. And confidence pays other dividends in the form of better communication and verbal skills. All of this serves to equate with higher wages and more promotions than are experienced by their equally or more-qualified counterparts, which can lead to friends, relatives and co-workers unleashing their inner green monsters with little or no provocation.

But in Peggy’s case, it’s not just that she’s such an illusion that she’s making everyone else obsolete. It’s that she knows she’s living breathing perfection and no one else, not even her husband, can hope to keep up.

Some have referred to this as the Brick Rule, after a woman by the name of Samantha Brick, who infamously declared in an article several years ago, “I’m tall, slim, blonde and, so I’m often told, a good-looking woman. I know how lucky I am. But there are downsides to being pretty – the main one being that other women hate me for no other reason than my lovely looks.”

In the ensuing 24 hours, her article got 1.5 million hits on the newspaper’s website. Nearly 5,000 readers left comments. Most were negative. Six years later, Brick is still a figure of derision.

And so the message behind Peggy is clear. Be smart, but not too smart. Be pretty, but never cop to it. Be a perfectionist if you must, but don’t rub our noses in it. Or else you can just fuck off!

But in the interests of fairness, this is just one reviewer’s opinion. Go here to read what the filmmaker, Justin O’Neal Miller, had to say about Peggy.

March 10, 2019.


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