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Wannabe

Breach, 2020

11 minutes

Director/Writer/Creator:

Dorothy Allen-Pickard, Billy Barrett, and Ellice Stevens

Reading Time:

3 minutes

📷 : Licensed from Shutterstock

WannabeK-Whut? (RY5O5CKHQHXAS99J)
00:00 / 03:52
Wannabe

Jasmine

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Movies and TV shows with heart, positive vibes, and warm messages

Oolong

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Movies and TV shows that make you laugh or involve physical activities like dance and exercise

Reba Chaisson

2023-02-15

You may remember the 1997 film, The Full Monty, about six unemployed men in Britain who make the big decision to strip for money. Similarly, Wannabe is a story of five older female friends, also in Britain, who come together to help Anita, a member of their group who is struggling financially. Initially unbeknownst to her, Anita’s four friends decide the five of them will team-up and put on a show as an older version of The Spice Girls.


Still working at age 75, Anita, played by Anita Donaghy, falls “in the red” when her hours are cut at work, making it difficult to keep up with her bills. When she visits Anita to ask why she has not been attending their regular line dancing outings, Joan, played by Joan Brigden, stumbles upon “a demand letter” and is sworn to secrecy. Anita’s desire to keep her financial struggles to herself exemplifies how shame and embarrassment are internalized when individuals are challenged to keep up with their bills. This is particularly the case for those who are older and expect to be past the stage in their lives where they are unable to meet their everyday obligations.

 

The capitalist ideology of individualism - responsibility for self and pulling oneself up by the bootstraps - intensifies the sense of guilt a person feels when he or she falls short of this ideal. We blame ourselves when we can’t pay our light bill, are late on our car note, or cannot pay the full amount due on our credit card, even though we have little if any control over what got us to that point (i.e. hours being cut, being laid off, the rising cost of food and gas, falling ill, caring for family members). These events are disruptive to our lives and largely beyond our control; yet, we carry around a deep sense of shame about their consequences because of the overarching idea that each of us is responsible for ourselves. And thus, asking for help is a sign of weakness. Given this reality, it is no wonder Anita wants to keep her struggles private, even from her closest and most trusted friends.


As Anita’s friends brainstormed ways to help her, I thought about how creative people in challenging circumstances have always had to find ways to make things work. Back in the day, people in some working-class neighborhoods held “rent parties,” where friends would get together and play cards for money and give the winnings to the host to help with their bills. Young kids would offer to wash cars and run errands for neighbors, or take glass bottles to the store to get 2-5 cents for each. (Today, bottles are deposited into recycling bins, so now, companies get the money!) Anita’s friends putting on a Spice Girls show was an interesting idea given their age group, and it promised to make for a fun and enjoyable 11 minutes. Not surprisingly, there are indeed some hilarious moments. But what you are most likely to be left with are the poignant ones.


Throughout the film, I couldn’t help but admire the group’s dedication to their friend, their commitment to the project, and their willingness to do what was necessary to help – short of what they viewed as “embarrassing [themselves]” that is. If you have just a few minutes, this one could be worth your time.

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