Almost everyone has seen the 2011 movie Bridesmaids starring Kristen Wiig as a hilarious and obnoxious maid of honor named Annie. In the movie, Annie who is the poor childhood best friend of the bride competes with the brides new richer best friend (named Helen Harris III) for the brides affection. Throughout the movie the two women bicker over who knows the bride better and who is really her best friend. The climax of the movie is occurs when it is time to give the bride her gifts at the bridal shower.
Annie decides to go the emotional route and she buys the bride a bunch of trinkets from their childhood town and puts them all in a handmade box decorated with pictures. The bride opens it and cries loving the sentimentality of the gift. Annie thinks she has won and that nothing can top such a personal gift. Then Helen gives her gift, it is an all expense paid week-long trip to Paris to buy a custom maid designer wedding gown. The bride is speechless and ecstatic. Annie is furious she can’t believe that Helen would so blatantly try to win the brides affection by flaunting her money, and she can’t believe that it actually worked. Her sentimental gift was nice in the moment, but completely upstaged by the extravagance of a vacation to Paris. This caused Annie to storm out of the party in a rage. This scene really showed the importance of gift giving and the different approaches to how it can be used as a tool to try to gain someones attention or affection.
This scene reminded me of what we discussed in class about gift-giving as a form of aggression. Neither woman was giving their particular gift only out of the kindness of their heart. They were using their gifts as a form of warfare in their battle to win the title of brides best friend. This example is a bit more dramatized than it would play out in real life, but it is still a poignant example of the way we use gift giving to communicate our relationships to someone. A gift that is very expensive or a gift that is sentimental can show to the receiver how much you care about them or how well you know them. This depends on the way people choose to show affection. Some peoples form of affection in gift giving is to spend a lot of money to show they care. Others way to show they care is through coming up with less monetary and more sentimental gift.
We like to think that homemade sentimental gifts are always better because they mean more, but is this really true?
I think it depends on the situation. A gift from a child to a parent is cherished if it is homemade especially if the child is young. I know my moms favorite gift I ever gave her was an “angel” I made when I was 4 years old from a plastic cup with a cotton ball with sequin eyes and a ribbon halo glued on top. However, if I had a birthday and one of my friends gave me a random home made gift I would probably be annoyed and think they didn’t think I was worth spending any money on. In the case of the movie, the sentimental gift was great and nothing to be ashamed of, but next to a designer dress and a trip to Paris it really couldn’t compete.
Here is a link to the scene from the movie the part I refer to is from the beginning to 1:15.