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  • Movies: Where are the Women?

    Thank you, Felicia Day!

    Star Trek Movie: SPOILERZZZZ

    You are officially spoiled if you read below, NO COMPLAINTS!

    Up front I will say I enjoyed this latest Star Trek movie a lot. It was super noisy, but enjoyable, beautifully executed, and I particularly like some of the secondary characters, Spock was excellent, etc etc. I just want to share an observation that stuck with me:

    Where are the women? The strong women? The women we’d like to see in 200 years? Where are they in this world? They certainly aren’t around the roundtable when the Starfleet are learning about Khan (there might have been one in that scene, if so that extra was not cut to in any significant manner to be notable.) In the scene where Kirk gets his ship back and the admiral is having a meeting with “important” people around a table later, I failed to see ONE WOMAN AROUND THAT TABLE, ALL MOSTLY WHITE MEN IMPLIED TO BE MAKING IMPORTANT DECISIONS TOGETHER. Yes, these are just scenes with extras, but seriously, in the future not one woman over 40 is in charge in this world?! How can that happen?

    For main characters, Uhura had a FEW nice scenes (as a vehicle to humanize Spock mostly), but that other woman character was the WORST damsel in distress ever. I kept waiting for her turn, waiting for her to not be the victim, to be a bit cleverer, to add to the equation in a “yeah you go girl” way but no, she was there to be sufficiently sexy that Kirk would acknowledge her existence, to be pretty, to serve the plot. I loved her bob. That’s it. What if she had been a less attractive woman, older, overweight? A tomboy? Wouldn’t have that been a tad more interesting choice? Or at least give her a moment where she’s not a princess waiting to be saved. From a director who is so amazing, who created wonderful female characters in Alias and Felicity, I was super bummed by this. A woman character CAN exist without having to be sexually desired by the guy. Oh, and she doesn’t have to be a lesbian either, OMG WHAT A SURPRISING IDEA!

    I don’t know if I’m extra sensitive about this issue or what, but I don’t think so, it’s a trend in media today. When I walk into the theater, I see men on posters. Mostly white men, the same men we see over and over in movies. Seth Rogen, Owen Wilson, Brad Pitt etc. Where did the women go? We are telling people that only men are worth centering storytelling around, and that’s just bullshit. And the problem is we unconsciously define the world and our culture through media. These things are subliminal, we absorb them, they formulate the “given” that influences people’s life choices. It might be a little thing on the surface, but this stuff is what prevents women from being as interested in math, or business people or tech etc. Where are the examples of women in media to strive for, to make that stuff seem possible? I don’t see many. And that makes me sad.

    People ask me why I don’t like Disney cartoons (edit: Except for Brave :P), I say, “Think of a princess. Tell me three adjectives that come to mind. Now do that with a prince. Now do that with the phrase, “leading character”. We will all probably align around a lot of common ideas, Princess: taken care of, rescued, pretty dresses. Prince: adventurer, proving himself, manhood, Leading Character: chiseled white guy in his thirties, rockin’ body, girlfriend in peril.

    Ugh.

    I dunno about you, but it’s kind of boring to see the same thing over and over again. So I guess, rambling away from the Star Trek thing, if you’re creating something, think of the first three adjectives that come to mind, then: Do something different. It’s time to invent new cliches. For all of us, please.

    Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

  • #2
    Re: Movies: Where are the Women?

    I'll take film noir bad girls everytime, Shiny . . .

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Movies: Where are the Women?

      Originally posted by shiny! View Post
      Thank you, Felicia Day!
      I was thinking about this the other day. It seems to me that the main character in Brave is intended to represent a lesbian child discovering her identity. This is unusual for a Hollywood film and I think it only happened because she slipped in under the radar. Hollywood execs don't expect to see subtle references to alternative sexuality in children's cartoons. Hollywood films are becoming less and less relevant and the audiences are responding by staying away. This business of not having modern, assertive female characters is just one aspect of the moribund film industry.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Movies: Where are the Women?

        Originally posted by globaleconomicollaps View Post
        ....Hollywood films are becoming less and less relevant and the audiences are responding by staying away. This business of not having modern, assertive female characters is just one aspect of the moribund film industry.
        +1
        an over-reliance on over the top FX (spec effects) seems to be part of it - esp compared to flix from the 40's thru 60's - when they actually had to have engaging scripts as well as talent (that did more than just look good)

        but youre right (ms shiny!) there doesnt seem to be many compelling female performers all of a sudden - altho this one still keeps me going:

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Movies: Where are the Women?

          It's been 16 years since Buffy aired, and 10 years since it ended. 11 years since Firefly. These shows portrayed strong, 3-dimensional female characters and realistic relationships. For all that they were fantasy, they had some of the most realistic women ever written. But with few exceptions, most shows and movies today still portray women as set piece stereotypes: The Mom. The Damsel in Distress. The Femme Fatale. The Girfriend. The Bratty Daughter.

          Mad Men and New Girl give us interesting, relatable women (and men!). I like those shows, but overall there's been precious little progress made in the portrayal of women. Every year new shows come out, I check them out only to be disappointed, then go back to re-watching Buffy, Angel and Firefly. Joss Whedon spoiled me! If he could write such great women so long ago, why can't anybody else get it right today?

          Whedon's take on it is that he writes people as "people". Most other writers write men as "people", and women as "women". They don't understand that women are "people", too. Thus the stereotyping.

          Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Movies: Where are the Women?

            Yeah, I would like to see more games and shows with female protagonists like those in Whedon's works. Especially more games.

            The Mass Effect series is known for having a strong female protagonist.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Movies: Where are the Women?

              Originally posted by BadJuju View Post
              Yeah, I would like to see more games and shows with female protagonists like those in Whedon's works. Especially more games.

              The Mass Effect series is known for having a strong female protagonist.
              Glad I'm not alone in this.

              Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

              Comment


              • #8
                Whedon's Commencement Address at Wesleyan

                http://www.tor.com/blogs/2013/05/jos...-2013-wesleyan

                Joss Whedon's Commencement Address at Wesleyan

                "You are all going to die."

                Joss Whedon, famed writer, director, and living symbol of nerdly equality, opened Sunday’s Wesleyan graduation commencement speech with this statement, and like most things that issue forth from Whedon the humor of the statement masked a deep truth about living.

                Whedon was present to accept an honorary Master of Letters from his alma mater (class of ’87) and was charged with delivering the commencement speech for the graduating class of 2013. In it, the writer touched upon what it is to go forth and change the world, and how it begins with being present for the changes within yourself. Read the full transcript below.

                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                "Two roads diverged in a wood and…" No! I’m not that lazy.

                I sat through many graduations. When I was sitting where you guys [Wesleyan class of 2013] are sitting the speaker was Bill Cosby. He was very funny and he was very brief and I thank him for that. He gave us a message that I really took with me, and that a lot of us never forgot, about changing the world. He said, "You’re not gonna change the world, so don’t try."

                That was it! He didn’t buy that back at all. And then he complained about buying his daughter a car and then we left. And I remember thinking…you know I think I can do better. I think I can be a little more inspiring than that.

                So, what I’d like to say to all of you is that you are all going to die.

                This is a good commencement speech! Because I’m figuring…it’s got to go up from here, right? It can only get better. This is good. It can’t get more depressing. You have, in fact, already begun to die.

                You look great. Don’t get me wrong. And you are youth and beauty, you are at your physical peak. Your bodies have just gotten off the ski slope at the peak of growth and potential! And now comes the black diamond mobile run to the grave.

                And the weird thing is… your body wants to die. On a cellular level that’s what it wants. And that’s-probably?-not what you want. I’m confronted by a great deal of grand and worthy ambition from this student body. You want to be politicians, social workers, you want to be artists. Your body’s ambition? Mulch. Your body wants to make some babies and then go in the ground and fertilize things. That’s it!

                And that seems like a bit of a contradiction. That doesn’t seem fair. For one thing, we’re telling you to go out into the world exactly when your body is saying, "Hey, let’s bring it down a notch." And it is a contradiction, which is actually what I’d like to talk to you about: the contradictions between your body and your mind, your mind and itself.

                I believe these contradictions and these tensions are the greatest gift we have and hopefully I can explain that.

                But first let me say that when I talk about contradiction I’m talking about something that is a constant in your life and in your identity. Not just in your body, but in your own mind in ways that you may recognize and that you may not.

                Let’s just say that, hypothetically, two roads diverged in a wood and you took the path less traveled. Part of you is going, "Look at that path over there! It’s much better! Everybody’s traveling on it and it’s…it’s paved and there’s like a Starbucks every 50 yards… This is wrong. This path’s got nettles and Robert Frost’s body and… somebody should have moved that, right? It feels weird.”
                "Not only is your mind telling you this, it is on that other path. It is behaving as if it is on that path, it is doing the opposite of what you are doing. And for your entire life you will be doing, on some level, the opposite of not only what you are doing but of what you think you are. That is just going to go on.

                And what you need to do is to honor that. To understand it. To unearth it. To listen to this other voice.

                You have, which is a rare thing, the ability and the responsibility to listen to the dissent in yourself. To at least give it the floor. Because it is the key, not only to consciousness, but to real growth.

                To accept duality is to earn identity, and identity is something that you are constantly earning. It is not just "who you are," it is a process that you must be active in.

                And it’s not parroting your parents or even the thoughts of your learned teachers, it is, now more than ever, about understanding yourself so you can become yourself.

                I talk about this contradiction and this tension… There’s two things I want to say about it. One, it never goes away. And if you think that achieving something, if you think that solving something, if you think a career or a relationship will quiet that voice? It will not.

                If you think happiness means total peace, you will never be happy. Peace comes from the acceptance of the part of you that can never be at peace. They will always be in conflict and if you accept that, everything gets a lot better!

                The other reason is that because you are establishing your identities and beliefs you need to argue yourself down, because somebody else will. Somebody’s going to come at you. Whatever your belief, your idea, your ambition…somebody’s going to question it. And unless you have first you won’t be able to answer back. You won’t be able to hold your ground. You don’t believe me? Try taking a stand on just one leg. You need to see both sides.

                Now, if you do, does this mean you get to change the world? All I can say, at this point, is that I think we can all agree that the world could use a little changing. I don’t know if your parents have explained this to you about the world but we…broke it? Ummmm, we’re sorry? It’s a bit of a mess. It’s a hard time to go out into it.

                And it’s a weird time in our country. And the thing about our country is…oh, it’s nice. I like it! But it’s not long on contradiction or ambiguity. It’s not long on these kind of things. It likes things to be simple. It likes things to be pigeonholed. Good, or bad. Black, or white. Blue, or red.

                And we’re not that. We’re more interesting than that. The way that we go into the world understanding is to have these contradictions in ourselves and to see them in other people and not judge them for it. To know that—in a world where debate has kind of fallen away and given away to shouting and bullying—the best thing is not just the idea of honest debate, the best thing is losing a debate. Because it means you’ve learned something and you’ve changed your position.

                The only way, really, to understand your position and its worth is to understand the opposite. That doesn’t mean the crazy guy on the radio who’s spewing hate, it means the decent human truths of all the people who feel the need to listen to that guy. You are connected to those people. They’re connected to him. You can’t get away from it.

                This connection is part of contradiction. It is the tension I was talking about. Because tension isn’t about two opposite points, it’s about the line being stretched in between them. And we need to acknowledge and honor that tension and the connection that that tension is a part of. Our connection, not just to the people we love, but to everybody, including people we can’t stand and wish weren’t around.

                The connection we have is part of what defines us on such a basic level. Freedom is not freedom from connection. Serial killing is freedom from connection. Certain large investment firms have established freedom from connection….

                But we as people never do, and we’re not supposed to. We are individuals, obviously, but we are more than that.

                So here’s the thing about changing the world. It turns out that’s not even the question, because you don’t have a choice. You are going to change the world because that is actually what the world is.

                You do not pass through this life, it passes through you. You experience it, you interpret it, you act, and then it is different. That happens constantly. You are changing the world. You always have been.

                And now it becomes real on a level that it hasn’t been before.

                And that’s why I’ve been talking only about you and the tension within you. Because you are, not in a cliched sense but in a weirdly literal sense, the future. And after you [the graduating class] walk up here and walk back down you are going to be the present. You will be the broken world and the act of changing it in a way that you haven’t been before.

                You will be so many things and the one thing that I wish I’d known, and want to say, is: don’t just be yourself, be all of your selves. Don’t just live, be that other thing connected to death. Be life. Live all of your life. Understand it, see it, appreciate it, and have fun.
                Last edited by shiny!; 05-26-13, 09:58 PM.

                Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Movies: Where are the Women?

                  Originally posted by BadJuju View Post
                  Yeah, I would like to see more games and shows with female protagonists like those in Whedon's works. Especially more games.

                  The Mass Effect series is known for having a strong female protagonist.
                  I just made the mistake of watching a shoot 'em up movie....Resident Evil 87 Ultimate Final Apocalypse(actually I think it was #5 in the series?).

                  The top 3 characters were female......hard to tell protagonist from antagonist since they flip flipped so many times, but safe to say the 3 main flip flopping characters were all women....even the only clear antagonist took the form of a little girl.


                  I think there's been considerable progress with female characters in media recent decades(from what I've seen).

                  What will be interesting moving forward is things like ideal body image as well as ageism for female characters and their audiences.

                  The world's getting fatter, much fatter. Will it show through in media?

                  I don't know what, if anything, can be done to change perceptions(as well as opportunities) to increase opportunities for female characters over the age of 40-50.

                  The world loves youth and fortunately or unfortunately, women seem to prefer mature men more than men prefer mature women........that seems to be an undeniable fact.

                  And like it or not, no matter how smart and witty a character is.......all things being equal......we would probably all prefer to here the brains and wit emanating from the mouth of someone deemed attractive by the opposite sex.

                  At least that's the way I see it.

                  The good news is that there seems to be more "real" rather than "ideal" female characters in the media, at least according to my wife.

                  The only thing that bothers me about male/female characterizations in the media generally seem to be around the creation of inaccurate perceptions.

                  One that bothers me a bit is how women are now going to be allowed to attempt selection for certain arduous combat roles in the US military.

                  I've had a number of discussions with people about the extremely poor cost/benefit from this decision that is less about gender than it is about human physiology, but I've repeatedly been offered "evidence" from mass media fiction.

                  What I'm waiting to see someday is mass media mirroring reality in the form of evil characters who are gay and/or disabled.

                  It wasn't all that long ago that a gay character in mass media was verboten.

                  Then the barrier was broken, then everyone had to have a positive gay character to prove they aren't homophobic.

                  I reckon when a gay character can be the "evil bad guy" antagonist that's probably a better indicator of making some headway and breaking some real barriers beyond all gay people are happy and cool and positive. They're just like us: miserable, smart, funny, stupid, rude, nice, good, bad, and evil.

                  One of my favorite films is The Manchurian Candidate.

                  To me, Angela Lansbury's character would have eaten Anthony Hopkins' character Hannibal Lector for lunch...both literally and figuratively if the character had to.

                  Frighteningly malignant intelligence and ruthlessly driven. THE force driving the effort and manipulating not one, but TWO Superpowers.

                  Not a positive character, but an incredibly capable one.

                  To me, that was a pretty big characterization milestone.....overshadowed a few years later by Nichelle Nichols as eye candy in Star Trek a few years later, about the same time Bill Cosby became the brains in the partnership(and sometimes superior of Robert Culp) in I, Spy.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Movies: Where are the Women?

                    Originally posted by lakedaemonian View Post
                    I just made the mistake of watching a shoot 'em up movie....Resident Evil 87 Ultimate Final Apocalypse(actually I think it was #5 in the series?).

                    The top 3 characters were female......hard to tell protagonist from antagonist since they flip flipped so many times, but safe to say the 3 main flip flopping characters were all women....even the only clear antagonist took the form of a little girl.


                    I think there's been considerable progress with female characters in media recent decades(from what I've seen).

                    What will be interesting moving forward is things like ideal body image as well as ageism for female characters and their audiences.

                    The world's getting fatter, much fatter. Will it show through in media?

                    I don't know what, if anything, can be done to change perceptions(as well as opportunities) to increase opportunities for female characters over the age of 40-50.

                    The world loves youth and fortunately or unfortunately, women seem to prefer mature men more than men prefer mature women........that seems to be an undeniable fact.

                    And like it or not, no matter how smart and witty a character is.......all things being equal......we would probably all prefer to here the brains and wit emanating from the mouth of someone deemed attractive by the opposite sex.

                    At least that's the way I see it.

                    The good news is that there seems to be more "real" rather than "ideal" female characters in the media, at least according to my wife.

                    The only thing that bothers me about male/female characterizations in the media generally seem to be around the creation of inaccurate perceptions.

                    One that bothers me a bit is how women are now going to be allowed to attempt selection for certain arduous combat roles in the US military.

                    I've had a number of discussions with people about the extremely poor cost/benefit from this decision that is less about gender than it is about human physiology, but I've repeatedly been offered "evidence" from mass media fiction.

                    What I'm waiting to see someday is mass media mirroring reality in the form of evil characters who are gay and/or disabled.

                    It wasn't all that long ago that a gay character in mass media was verboten.

                    Then the barrier was broken, then everyone had to have a positive gay character to prove they aren't homophobic.

                    I reckon when a gay character can be the "evil bad guy" antagonist that's probably a better indicator of making some headway and breaking some real barriers beyond all gay people are happy and cool and positive. They're just like us: miserable, smart, funny, stupid, rude, nice, good, bad, and evil.

                    One of my favorite films is The Manchurian Candidate.

                    To me, Angela Lansbury's character would have eaten Anthony Hopkins' character Hannibal Lector for lunch...both literally and figuratively if the character had to.

                    Frighteningly malignant intelligence and ruthlessly driven. THE force driving the effort and manipulating not one, but TWO Superpowers.

                    Not a positive character, but an incredibly capable one.

                    To me, that was a pretty big characterization milestone.....overshadowed a few years later by Nichelle Nichols as eye candy in Star Trek a few years later, about the same time Bill Cosby became the brains in the partnership(and sometimes superior of Robert Culp) in I, Spy.

                    Thank you for the thoughtful post.

                    Three-dimensional gay characters have been done beautifully in, you guessed it, a Joss Whedon show. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Seasons 4-6. In season 6 one of the main characters becomes the arch villian. She is incidentally a lesbian. And an addict. The relationship portrayed in that series between Willow and Tara was the most mature relationship in the entire group of characters.

                    Whedon's "Dollhouse" is a very underrated science fiction series, probably because the first five episodes were pretty disappointing by Whedon standards. (Then the network stopped meddling and let him do what he wanted, and it became great.) In Dollhouse, the character of Mellie/November is a heavy girl by Hollywood standards, but a healthy, beautiful girl (I should say "woman") by any "normal" standards. Joss hired her because he wanted to change the idea of what constitutes a beautiful woman. Or change it back. Today, Marilyn Monroe would be considered too fat.

                    Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Movies: Where are the Women?

                      Just stick with Game of Thrones. You wont be disappointed


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                      • #12
                        Re: Movies: Where are the Women?

                        Originally posted by verdo View Post
                        Just stick with Game of Thrones. You wont be disappointed
                        I love the books! Is the TV series good?

                        Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Movies: Where are the Women?

                          Originally posted by shiny! View Post
                          I love the books! Is the TV series good?
                          Amazingly so. I have read the books as well, so you will not be disappointed. Check it out as soon as possible.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Movies: Where are the Women?

                            Originally posted by BadJuju View Post
                            Amazingly so. I have read the books as well, so you will not be disappointed. Check it out as soon as possible.
                            Still too expensive on DVD; will buy it when the price comes down. Thanks for the rec.

                            Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Movies: Where are the Women?

                              yeah the show is amazing. Right when i was loosing faith in tv, Game of Thrones swoops in to save the day


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