What Trainwreck Gets Right and Wrong About Working at a Men’s Magazine
For starters, in the real world, you’re highly discouraged from sleeping with your interview subjects.
Sometimes I feel like I could be the punchline to a joke: “What do you call a young vegan feminist who works at a men’s magazine?” Day to day, it’s not that strange: I love writing, I love pop culture (my beat), and working at Maxim means I get to focus on those things all day.
I recently saw Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck, in which her character—also named Amy—is a journalist working at the fictional lad mag S’Nuff. I’d been excited for the hilariously brash romant-ish comedy for a while (spoiler: it delivers), but I admit that my interest was piqued when I learned of her job: It’s not often that I get to see my career path played out on the big screen. After all, I’m not a superhero or a spy. I’m a lady who writes things for dudes.
Schumer had plenty of ways that she could’ve approached that aspect of the film, and she did so amusingly, and, well, fairly realistically. (This is where I remind you that a) movies are not real life b) any inaccuracies only served to drive the plot along c) it was a really fucking funny movie and d) I really like writing about myself.) Here’s what was accurate and what wasn’t—with some spoilers ahead—based entirely on my own personal experience as a woman working at a men’s magazine:
Early on in the film, Amy and her colleagues sit around a table and pitch ideas to their editor-in-chief, Dianna (a sublime performance by Tilda Swinton), who accepts, rejects, and assigns articles swiftly. This whole meeting takes under 5 minutes.
The general format of the pitch meeting was accurate. They move quickly, and you have to be ready to fiercely sell and defend your idea in front of a room full of people. As for a meeting lasting five minutes—dream on. Then again, I’m pretty sure they’d have lost filmgoers if it went on for a more realistic 1.5 to 2 hours.
At one point Amy’s character admits that she hates sports and thinks that “anyone who likes them is a lesser person.”
I too, am not a sports fan. My interest is limited to watching the Super Bowl once a year, and that’s only because I know I can eat all the snacks while everyone else is paying attention. And it turns out you don’t need to know any of that shit to work at a men’s magazine.
Amy’s colleagues, aside from Nikki (Vanessa Bayer) are loutish bros always talking about sex. One of them (John Glaser) even asks—for a story—if other people masturbate to hockey fights.
So long as I’m working on a related story, it’s fair game for me to talk about or research practically anything. Why, just a few days ago, I spent a lovely morning writing about a disembodied robotic butt sex toy designed by a pornography empire. So yeah, sometimes I feel like I’m living in a Judd Apatow movie (I’m not complaining.) What does NSFW mean again?
Amy goes to meet up with her interview subject, a sports doctor named Aaron (Bill Hader), just to sort out schedules, and when she’ll be hanging out with him for the profile she’s writing.
All that shit happens via email in the real world. But I get it: Plot device!!! (Also, LeBron James casually drops by, which, so far, has never happened on any assignment of mine.)
Then Amy bones and proceeds to date her interview subject.
This is highly discouraged. In fact, not having sex with your interview subjects is Journalism 101.
She also gets caught about to have rough sex with her underage intern.
Do I even need to say it?
Photos by Mary Cybulski