Laddles and Jellyspoons, I was recently discussing with some pop-culture geeks the disturbing trends of women in the movies. Now I realized it wasn’t just me when I uncovered about 30 articles on the subject therefore outlining the trend in articles about the trend in movies of frail women. Before I get thoroughly meta, I have a simple question- Do men EVER identify with female characters, and do women ever identify with male characters?
I remember when I was a kid playing “Aliens” on the playground at school, and despite the traditional gender roles, ALL the boys wanted to play Ripley. It’s not uncommon for kids to want to be the main character, but it is uncommon for boys to want to be a female character. Traditionally speaking kids born in the 90s have had few serious female role models, the spice girls and girl power revolved around looking pretty, and the 2000s have got Beyoncé thrusting around in hot-pants and a bikini top proclaiming that Girls “run the world”, difficult to imagine Hillary Clinton dressed like Lady Gaga at a UN Council meeting. I guess I saw the last Hurrah of the 80s before the mid-90s robbed me of logical, normal, women, who could do more than look pretty and shriek.
Yes, there weren’t that many women to look up to and the 80s were highly geared towards blowing stuff up (which to be honest was great before Michael Bay over did it). BUT, despite my intense hatred for Holly Gennaro, she took no crap, she was John MacLane’s wife but she had a career and a mean right hook. Sure she was supporting cast, but she didn’t sit there and do nothing, she stood up to Gruber, organized the hostages,got taken hostage, didn’t die, and whacked the annoying reporter in the face. She had a speaking role which wasn’t based on how short her skirt was!!!!
Speaking of mean right hook, Sarah Friggin’ Connor, ok so the first film was her being chaperoned by Hicks (he’s always Hicks, you can call him Kyle but really he’s Hicks) away from the Terminator, but she becomes a crazy Kick-ass monster mama given time and some training.
Even Indiana Jones has a decent side-kick with style and strength in Marion Drink-you-under-the-table Ravenwood, who is then replaced by a blonde who can’t do anything but squeak and then by a cob-webbed Sean Connery, which I firmly believe was an upward move after Temple of Doom.
Women being able to hold their own with their male counterparts was okay in the 80s, Princess Leia managed to do it with poise, and film geek that I am I can tell you that per shot fired she has the most hit of anyone in the Rebel Alliance. Higher than Luke who has the force, higher than Han who before being a rebel was basically a gangster…. Do you hear me??? The poised and graceful princess is better at killing than the bootlegger arms dealer and the professional soldier!!!!! How’s that for equality!!!!
Annie Hall was the quirky foil to the ever awkward inducing Woody Allen, she was funny and opinionated, she smoked pot, she was neurotic and she didn’t save a galaxy but she was integral to the plot!! Somehow though we have somewhat lost our way, with a few notable exceptions the 90s failed to keep women up there.
The following are my exceptions if there are any other decent female characters who don’t cry/scream/wait to be rescued/don’t annoy the ever-holy-tamale out of me I don’t know of them: 91, Clarice Starling as done by Jody Foster, 92, Catwoman as acted by Michelle Pfeiffer, 92, Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct, and 96, Madge from Fargo. After that come the dark times.
I freely admit these tend to be action/blockbuster movies, and that strong female characters have kept the ground one in indy films. But let’s be honest, how many kids out there have seen Steel Magnolias? Or Sophie’s Choice? Or Paradise Road? My guess is none, small independent and art-house films do not appeal to kids and teens as big budget action movies.
Big budget action movies have the tendency to lean towards token-ism, one black guy and one chick, or y’know simplify it to one black chick, that’s inclusive right? So we get Token this and that but most of the cast are white males. Which makes no sense, firstly the Latino population f the US is growing steadily and by 2050 estimates predict that there will be more Latinos than Whites. As a European I personally don’t understand the difference between Latino and white…. Aren’t they both white, isn’t this just picking ethnicities within ethnicities? Anyway that’s not the point here. Secondly, half of the global population are women, but rarely is 50% of the cast female, and if they deign to have more than one woman, the trend is one blonde one brunette, maybe a Latina, no Chinese, no Indian, no Caribbean, no Black, no Arabic… because obviously all women are white and a size 2, and have double Ds, right? Although If it’s an all female cast tokens are okay…
Is it mysterious that girls act like spoiled children who demand to be saved? It’s what they see in blockbusters; sure you also get the girls who act like all of Michelle Rodriguez’s characters, basically with less femininity than Jean-Claude Van Damme. Hell is there really no middle ground??? The recent Hunger Games would show that there is. Everdeen is gentle and sweet to those she cares about, and mean to those she doesn’t. Although she really makes few decisions, and nothing she does sticks it to “the man” she is bringing people round to the idea that men can identify with women, and that women can carry a film. So enough of the so-called heroines who sit back and wait to get rescued will painting their nails, enough of the women in the story solely because you can’t hand out trophies for covertly shooting a bajillion terrorists. ENOUGH ENOUGH ENOUGH!!!
You know what, I take back what I said about Holly Gennaro, I do like her. She was a lady who was tough when she needed to be and soft when she needed to be. Hollywood, can we have more like her?