Joy of Invention

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I wasn’t actually planning to see Joy.  I was staying in my hometown over Christmas and one of my old school friends invited me to see it with her after our plans to drink mocktails in the pool were spoiled due to the rain. But I figured, why not?  I’d seen the same trailer come up on my facebook feed a few times.   Jennifer Lawrence has a mad family and invents something (the trailer doesn’t mention), which is initially dismissed as crazy but then does well. Bradley Cooper is involved too.  Seemed liked an okay choice given that we’d both already seen Star Wars.

I was actually pleasantly surprised by this film.  The family dynamics are manifested with such authenticity that just watching it on the silver screen was increasing my blood pressure.  The story and its character narration are interesting and conversational.  The film is shot with interesting angles relevant to an idea about watching people’s hands expressed by Bradley Cooper’s character and everything looks nostalgically soft, like you’re watching through an Early Bird Instagram filter.

Given that this is actually based on a true story, I have no hesitation in spoiling what the product is that Joy is pedalling.  However, if you really want to be surprised, stop reading now.

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Joy is the inventor of the miracle mop, which has a super absorbent, self-wringing, machine washable mop head. This film follows her journey, in the late 80s / early 90s, through essentially an engineering design process – concept (a vague sense that she should use her creativity), requirements (cutting her hands while ringing a mop head and seeking a solution), design (scribbling her designs on butchers’ paper with crayon), execution (engaging a plastic moulder and hiring disadvantaged women to work on an assembly line) and handover (selling to the public on cable TV).  There are also some lessons to be learnt about legal advice, patents, financial risk, fraud, contract conditions and trust in general.

Another thing that’s interesting about this story is that our heroine has seemingly triumphed in the inventing and manufacturing game, largely viewed to be a man’s world, by creating a product which is widely accepted as a symbol of the oppression of women.  And the victory almost seemed hollow when you realise that after all the flighting and trials she went through, that even her family tried to swindle her in the end and that women with ideas are still having them suppressed by their parents, partners and employers.

I don’t really watch traditional television anymore.  I’ve become so fiercely independent that I find the idea of a television network dictating the time of day I watch a particular program to be a deprivation of my liberty.  But I was watching it over the weekend at my parents’ place and saw an ad for the contemporary miracle mop – a mop that is wrung through centripetal force.  It doesn’t seem that anything has changed in the last 20 years!  Not surprising considering that even in Australian households where women are the main breadwinners, they still do more housework!

Check out this graph from The Guardian in 2014.  How depressing…

So, see Joy if you are interested in the manufacturing process for making self ringing mops and would like to see JLaw in some cool outfits.  But if you want your feminist fire fuelled, try to get to a screening of Suffragette instead.

 

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