Oh, I get it… Women’s Lib was/is a movement dedicated to securing equality for us as women – so we could vote, find jobs, and take more of an active role in our own futures rather than be passed from parents to husband with no say in the matter. I get all that, and I celebrate the women who sacrificed and fought so that I have those options today. I am eternally grateful.
But what have we done with it? Really? I was all prepared to post a ranting diatribe against the ‘new breed’ of male film directors and how they’re a bunch of misogynistic frat boys more in love with “louder, faster, slicker, sexier” than with any sort of genuine creativity, gripping storytelling or brilliant filmmaking. And to a certain extent, that’s true – and it’s depressing. Michael Bay, JJ Abrams, Chris Nolan, Bryan Singer, Matthew Vaughn & their ilk embody (in my opinion) everything that’s wrong with the film industry as a whole.
The women in their movies are nearly all pathetic, unnecessary, weak, sexed-up, need to be saved, have no direction… the list goes on & on. But what are we, as women, doing? We’re letting it happen! So like I said, while I was intending to rail against them, it occurred to me that instead of blasting them (at least this time… they are most assuredly not blameless in this situation), I wanted to shout a wake-up call to my sisters out there. We need to demand better!!!
We don’t have to be ‘sexed up’. Now, this doesn’t apply to every female actor – even in action movies… some, like Angelina Jolie or Gina Gershon, couldn’t turn off the ‘sexy’ even if they tried. That’s just one of those things. But when nearly every female character in every movie is prancing around in next-to-no clothing, fake hair (and body parts, in many cases), and generally completely unnecessary and inappropriate sex-kitten makeovers, it’s insulting. And we shouldn’t have to put up with it. If the guy can wear a suit that fits but isn’t tight, then the girl should be able to do likewise… and the blouse should button… and the skirt can be attractively above the knees and still cover the hoo-ha! And I’m not even going to get into the ever-present stilettos…
We can be REAL action heroes. In Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Penélope Cruz plays a pirate – and a seriously sexy one at that. But she also swings a wicked sword & I, for one, loved it. Her fighting saved it for me. But we don’t have to always be a sex-version of an action character; we should demand some realism! In the recent Green Lantern movie, the one female character (played by the woefully out-matched Blake Lively) is both a business woman & a fighter pilot. Bravo – women kick ass as fighter pilots. But here’s the thing… they aren’t a size zero with extensions in their hair! I’ve seen some fighter-pilot women – these chicks are AMAZING. They’re trail-blazers & true heroes. Why sully what they do by making this character essentially no better than a runway model mockery of them? It’s just insulting. And that’s only one example in a vast ocean of pitiful. At least GL tried… sort of. However, in the ‘ray of light’ category, Pixar is finally getting on board the powerful woman train w/ the upcoming release of Brave, featuring their first female heroine. I, for one, can’t wait to see it. But why does it take an animated feature before we can both helm the flick AND be a real hero?
We can be ‘girly’ and still completely strong. A hero doesn’t always have to be Michelle Rodriguez in Avatar (though she was brilliant, wasn’t she? You notice how James Cameron is NOT on my list?). We can be softer, too, and still maintain credibility. I don’t know how many of you saw Braveheart (but if you didn’t, seriously, what’s wrong with you?!), but there is a character who never picks up a weapon, never musses her hair or dress, marries who she’s told, and generally allows herself to be a pawn in the machinations of the men surrounding her – but she is one seriously tough chick. Her inner strength is a wonder to behold… and she’s a great female role model! Another example would be Courage Under Fire – do you remember seeing the strong, capable warrior-woman… who also cried? It is possible to be both feminine & strong – and you don’t have to sacrifice storyline or insult women to do it.
We need to get dressed. In X-men: The First Class, every single female character is at some point in their underwear or gets naked. Every. Single. One! The men don’t get naked – apparently it’s fine for male mutants (and Feds) to remain clothed. And I am incredibly tired of seeing supposed action-heroes running around in bare midriff outfits & high heels. Seriously?! Come on… that’s beyond insulting. Let the girls put some clothes on, you pervs. If you want booty, go watch porn – let women have some dignity in films. Need more proof? Type “Warrior Women” in Google Images. It’s … “educational.”
We are geeks too! Sure, yeah, what girl doesn’t like a good romantic movie – but that’s not all we watch! If there is any doubt about just how many geek-girls there are out there, all it takes is to swing by a convention (ANY sci-fi, comic, etc. convention) and take a good look at the swarms of us. We love the few legitimate sci-fi/fantasy hero chicks we’ve got: Leia, Zoë, River, Ripley – but there are SO few of them! We were there as a major part of the movement that brought Serenity to the big screen, we buy the movies and comics, we go to the conventions & make costumes… we support our beloved genre with a passion that is wondrous to behold – even when we are left out in the cold without characters of our own to relate to. Give us more, filmmakers, and we’ll be there for you!
We need to make movies. Frankly, the top female directors just aren’t getting it done. It is still quite difficult for women to break into the top tiers of the entertainment industry… but these few women who have are squandering their opportunity! Take Kathryn Bigelow – I know, I know, she won the Oscar for The Hurt Locker (which I personally think is a tragedy), and she does have two pretty good romps under her belt (Point Break & Strange Days)… but where are the women? That’s a heap of man-flesh in those movies. [And yes, before anyone starts screaming at me, Angela Bassett did play an amazing woman in Strange Days, but seriously… one character in a whole body of work? Come on.] If we can’t even depend on our female directors to deliver strong female roles, then where can we turn? And aside from Kathryn, we’ve basically got either rom-com devotees who simply churn out the same tripe over & over, or the ‘look how deep I am’ crowd who wallow in the weird. And we’re supposed to buy into that. No thanks – we girls have the potential to be every bit as engaging & entertaining as the boys, and it’s high time we did something about it.
I’m doing my part. I’m raging against the machine and am part of a company who is dedicated to turning out quality books & movies with strong, realistic, fabulous characters… both male AND female. And we’ll keep doing it – for as long as we can (and probably a little after that). We’re driven & won’t be stopped. And we will not accept the status quo.
What will you do?