Whether or not we want to wade into the question of whether women have a distinct phraseology, one has to admit that few guys ever say things like “I die!” or “Feel my hands” or (and what girl hasn’t said this) “The thing is, I shouldn’t have to ask.” Now, the popular stream-of-consciousness Twitter feed @ShitGirlsSay, which chronicles comments that could only be attributed to the fairer sex, has become a viral video sensation.
Over the course of little over a minute, Shit Girls Say – Episode 1 lays out a barrage of very distinct girl talk, and is full of surprises. First, it reveals that the “girl” behind the feed is in fact two Toronto-based guys; it features a cameo from actress Juliette Lewis as a jargon-spewing BFF; and the central female character is played by director/creator Graydon Sheppard, in drag (the film has already inspired a spin-off, Shit Gay Guys Say).
The film, which has already logged over 3.5 million views, is one of four planned episodes to be released in the next week. The idea came from the unexpected interest in the Twitter feed, which was created on a lark by Sheppard and boyfriend Kyle Humphrey in April 2011.
“One of the first things we came up with was ‘could you pass me that blanket’ and it just struck a tone. We didn’t know what it was about it but we just kept coming up with ideas,” says Sheppard. Without a real plan, other than to steer away from comments that were negative or qualified as TMI, they launched the feed. When it was picked up by BuzzFeed a few days later and gained over 1,000 followers in about an hour (it now has almost 75,000), they knew they were on to something.
By July, a video interpretation of the feed was in the works. Sheppard is a filmmaker by trade and Humphrey a graphic designer and creator of the popular Roseanne blog ThirdAndDelaware.com. (Roseanne Barr, herself, is apparently a big fan.) Between them, they had enough talented and generous friends willing to lend their skills to bring SGS to life. But it was a chance Twitter response from Juliette Lewis that really brought things together.
The pair had noticed that Lewis was an early celeb follower of the feed, along with Ashton Kutcher, which was exciting. But not as exciting as when she responded to a random SGS tweet. “In August I tweeted, ‘Hey, where are you?’ and for some reason she responded,” says Sheppard. “She said, ‘Toronto! WHO are u? Are u even female?’ So we started direct messaging.” With a few friends in common, they eventually met for a drink. Once a cut of the Shit Girls Say video was complete in November, Sheppard approached Lewis to do a cameo and she was into it, shooting her scenes just last week. The energy that Lewis brings in her rapid-fire exchanges with the girl is electric, elevating what could have been a cute online funny to a credibly cute online funny.
Sheppard says bringing the girl character to life, someone who’d only existed in 140 characters or less, was incredibly thought out. Neither he nor Humphrey wanted their humorous and sincere observations of their female friends to be considered mocking, and they wanted the revelation that they were the brains behind the gems of girlie wisdom to seem genuine. Which is why he opted to don the heels and wig for the part.
“There are some people who do really well on Twitter and then are like, ‘Hey, it was me” and the illusion is gone or it seems more self-promotional. So once we created the video and the character, it seemed all right to reveal that two gay guys were behind it as part of this next step. It wasn’t self-promotion, it was an evolution,” says Sheppard, adding dressing the part helped. “I think that feels a little less threatening than casting a woman to represent all women. I think that kind of makes it a little more of an every person.”
So has this exercise in astutely observing the distinct female dialect made Sheppard and Humphrey more aware of what their female friends say? Not really, says Sheppard. “I don’t think we actively sat and listened for tweets; they just came up. That said, there are times when we look at each other and are like, “Oh my God, we have to do that one.” As for whether there’s life for Shit Girls Say after the four episodes already created, there’s nothing planned. “For now we’re not going to do any more of this style–unless someone wants to get involved.”