I have basically stopped watching movies.
I can’t bring myself to watch more than about two minutes of any movie before the steam inside my head has risen to the point where I need to leave the room or it will burst out, whistling like a kettle.
Having observed the film industry for the best part of 20 years in the hope of its portrayal of women improving, I’ve found that things have barely moved an inch.
Any pleasure I might have had from immersing myself in a gritty crime drama, a romping comedy, or a big-screen Hollywood action flick has been ruined by the fact that the same old character/casting formula still remains: wide variety of males, essentially only one “young, sexy, and beautiful” female type.
I do a “gender swap” in my head, imagining all the male characters as female and vice versa. I can’t believe how amazing it would feel to see all those diverse women on screen. Wow, this is what it must feel like for male audiences! Would male audiences tolerate it the other way around?
When it’s only the women who are being restricted, sanitized, and censored in this way while male characters populate the screen in all their wonderful variety, it leaves me (and surely many other female viewers) feeling isolated and annoyed.
This is all nothing new of course, and it’s understandable considering the film industry has been (and often still is) a predominantly male domain, with a history of men writing for men. BUT haven’t times changed? Surely there is no excuse for this these days.
Come ON, if writers and directors can accommodate male diversity it’s WAY beyond time that women were afforded the same courtesy.
Spy, Pitch Perfect 1 & 2, and The Heat are a start, but Melissa McCarthy and Rebel Wilson are only two non-stereotypical actresses in a sea of movie female “young, sexy sameness”. We need many, many more films with varied, ordinary women in primary, secondary and background roles. Right now, it’s waaay out of balance.
Until that day comes, I’ll be in the other room, reading my book.
Elizabeth Dodd is a Human History Museum professional and part time artist from New Zealand. Over the years, her growing exasperation at the media’s uncontested obsession with womens’ appearance and youth has driven her to either self combust or start blogging. She chose the latter.