Tuesday, 9 November 2010

A feminist's nightmare

I'm writing this having just rewatched The Mummy (1999) for the first time in years. I like the film, ok, I think it's a good adventure movie. Yes, it may be the poor man's Indiana Jones, but Stephen Sommers really knows how to write and direct fun, exciting action. Which is why the third film was shite - he wasn't involved. Anyway, I digress......

On several occasions throughout that movie, Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) is perved on by Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo). The thing she does more than anything is pull that really annoying face (you know the one) when presented with danger - the classic "hands in front of face, waiting for a man to save her" one:

Eugh! I can accept that some movies are "Man Films" and must play to a man audience - this means a woman in danger and a man doing the rescuing. But, to be honest, I worry about any man who wants a woman who can't do a damn thing for herself. I'm all for the protagonist (in this case, a man) doing most things - they should! But Evie should at least do something. She should at least try to save herself. Run, slap, punch, kick in the fucking balls. Do something!!!

Another film that really pisses me off is Titanic. I love Cameron, despite Avatar. He created Sarah Connor, a brilliantly strong female character who literally drags the man to safety. He made Ellen Ripley bigger and badder with Aliens. But in Titanic, we have Rose De....whatsherface.

She's trapped in a controlling relationship. It's the olden days, so women had very little power over their own lives. But she is saved, constantly, by bloody Jack. I'm not quite sure who the protagonist even is in this film (further analysis needed, methinks). I want to say Jack, but Rose narrates and it's Rose who changes more than anyone else. All Jack does is make Rose change. So why is she so bloody passive?

Time and time again she is saved by men. The only time I'm convinced by Rose as a strong character is at the end of the movie, when she picks up that whistle and blows for help (Steady now, not that kind of blow!) But did you catch that? End of the movie. The end. Too bloody late. I've just sat through 3 hours to see a woman do one little thing?!

Then we have Twilight. I won't go onto an even bigger rant (we all know I'd love to, but you wouldn't. Again), but seriously?! This is Twilight:

Girl likes boy. Nearly hit by car, saved by boy. Nearly raped, saved by boy. Plays baseball, saved by boy. Piggyback by boy. Nearly kidnapped, saved by boy. Actually kidnapped, saved by.............boy.

'Nuff said.

I really don't understand this attitude towards women in films. It's not like I'm setting out to write the next feminist movie, I'd probably fall fat on my arse. Most of the things I write are about men. And most of those men treat women like shit (note: not a form of self-expression). But the very very least you should do is make your women characters. Forget that there are men and there are women. There are people. What do people do in danger? Flight or fight - run or punch.

So please stop treating your female characters like little children unable to do anything for themselves. I don't have a single female friend who would rely on a man for help. In fact, most of the women I know could beat me into pathetic pulp. Most, I tell you. Not all. Most!

What about you? Anyone else get seriously pissed off by all these inactive, 2D (sometimes literally) women in films? What is the biggest feminist's nightmare? Any feminists even out there anymore.......?

PS: anyone now looks at my google images searches will think I'm fairly obsessed with Leo Dicaprio and Robert Pattinson. Oh dear.



Lucy V said...

"He created Sarah Connor, a brilliantly strong female character who literally drags the man to safety."

Sigh. No, Sarah Connor *is* a MAN. The fact that so few males appear to get this is and turn the likes of Sarah Connor into an icon is what worries me, not stupid throwaway roles like Evie in The Mummy. James Cameron is one of the men responsible for reducing female roles even further by spreading the ridiculous "men with boobs" character just about everywhere. Thanks James! You've just screwed up the spec EVEN MORE - but somehow get celebrated for it?? Come on.

And if you wonder where the feminists are, you're not looking very far. Try #fem2 on Twitter, or my "femmefatales" list for starters - and let's not forget about the likes of WFTV, The Geena Davis Insitute, The Bird's Eye Film Festival or The Sphinx Theatre Company looking into important issues like these... notes on my blog last Friday. Or fellow bloggers and movie lovers like Sarah Dobbs with her self-funded, self-published movie mag RE/ACTION. Buy one.

Chris Regan said...

I am reluctant to comment for fear of tripping over the can of worms. But if you're interested in this kind of thing there's an awesome book called Working Girls by Yvonne Tasker which is all about women in mainstream cinema.

halojones-fan said...

Although complaining that Sarah Connor is a man with tits is kind of still insisting that the man/woman dichotomy be preserved; as though "man with tits" is an acceptable and appropriate way to describe an active, strong, action-hero woman.

PS note how Cameron's two

Deviation Movie said...

Interesting discussion. Our movie Deviation, starring Danny Dyer and Anna Walton has a FANTASTIC female lead in Amber, whose actions are grounded in reality, not fantasy. It was the writer and director's belief that women should not be represented as hotties that kick ass any more than they should be screaming princesses who need rescuing every five minutes.

As this article rightly states, female characters need to be as FLAWED and three dimensional as their male counterparts, instead of shoe-horned into convenient boxes of wife, hottie that kicks ass, prostitute, mother, whatever. A female character is a sum of ALL her experiences, just like a male character is. Check it out ---> http://www.overthinkingit.com/2008/08/18/why-strong-female-characters-are-bad-for-women/

And if you're interested in the sound of Deviation, join us on Facebook www.facebook.com/deviationmovie