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Women of summer: a look at the summer movie lineup (present, past, and future)

Summer is always a time for big blockbuster movies. Summer 2013 has the typical action movies and the typical lack of women. Women go to movies just as much as men, yet we don’t have as many characters we can relate to.

The Present:

It’s no secret that this summer the movie theater screens are lacking women. The Heat (a buddy-cop movie with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy) may be the only movie out right now with female leads (and even has a female writer, Kate Dippold). (Another film that hasn’t done as well as The Heat but deserves some recognition for its female cast is, The Bling Ring.)

While it’s great to see women getting a chance to try this typically male-driven, buddy-cop genre, it’s not enough, and it puts a lot of pressure on The Heat. One movie isn’t expected to prove women are funny! And unfortunately, passing the Bechdel Test doesn’t always make a movie good.

Do we put more pressure on movies featuring women? Do movies starring women get judged more harshly than those starring men? And the time-old question: will men see movies about women’s lives in the same masses that women watch movies based on men’s stories?

We’ll let the numbers answer for us here because The Heat had an extremely successful opening weekend at the box office.

Women should have more than one choice when it comes to movies that relate to their own gender. Despite the lack of female leads this year, we shouldn’t neglect the awesome women in supporting roles right now. Mireille Enos plays Brad Pitt’s wife in the zombie flick World War Z, Pacific Rim has Rinko Kikuchi kicking butt, and Maggie Gyllenhaal plays a Secret Service Agent in White House Down.

The Past:

How well does this summer’s movie lineup compare to previous years? Well, some say the 90s were a time where movies showed real female relationships more strongly than in the past. You could say that third-wave feminism was just kicking in and making it to Hollywood.

From hits like 10 Things I Hate About You, to Clueless, to Never Been Kissed, you may be longing for the 90s right about now.

Looking back to last year, summer 2012 had few female leads (exceptions included Snow White and the Huntsman, Brave, and a few more), but there were still a number of strong supporting roles. The highlight from summer 2011 was clearly Bridesmaids, but again, why only one awesome movie about women each summer?

The Future:

While we’d like to think that women are making strides in Hollywood, it’s not always the truth. We may even be at a five-year low, which is a complete waste! Let’s hope that we see more women making their way to the spotlight on the big screen, telling diverse and complex stories of their lives.

While it’s hard to predict what summer 2014 will look like, there are surely enough action movies scheduled out, with a few women-focused films here and there (Wizard of Oz movie about Dorothy and the Fifty Shades of Grey adaptation). Fall 2013 doesn’t have too many female standouts either, but the next Hunger Games is something to look forward to!

What movies are you looking forward to seeing this summer, this fall, or even next summer?

Katie Boyer is a writer at heart who works in marketing at Goodreads and lives in Oakland, CA. She spends her free time watching movies, reading, writing, bicycling, and playing with her pet rabbit.

2 thoughts on “Women of summer: a look at the summer movie lineup (present, past, and future)

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  1. The Heat is a really funny, good movie that I thoroughly enjoyed, even as a feminist who critiques media all the time. I thought the representation of the women’s relationship (not really friendly, but they grew to respect each other) was realistic. Not all women are friends with each other! It was a “buddy cop” movie translated to two women as the main characters, but it was more.

    I credit the director, Paul Feig, who directed Bridesmaids and created the TV show Freaks & Geeks, for his feminist entertainment philosophy.

  2. Great to hear such good things about The Heat!

    Definitely helps to have directors like Paul Feig too 🙂

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