Alright, folks, feminists have a rare opportunity to get super excited about something pop culture related this weekend: The Hunger Games. It opens in theatres this weekend, and I’m planning on going to the midnight premiere. That is, if I can get tickets.
It isn’t often that there is a movie blockbuster set around a female character (in fact, I counted four films in the 50 highest grossing of all-time that were gynocentric. And that’s if I include Titanic), and my hopes are really, really high.
Now, I have to admit, I haven’t read the books. BUT, I’ve been reading a lot about the books, and it sounds like they are pretty awesome. This character of Katniss seems like a total badass, and I’m really excited that Jennifer Lawrence is playing her. In fact, the descriptions of Katniss remind me a lot of Lawrence’s character in Winter’s Bone: a young girl who takes care of her family, gets shit done, and isn’t portrayed as some girl who lives and dies with the preoccupation of love. By that, I mean she has more on her mind than getting married and having kids.
So, yeah, I’m excited. I have absolutely no idea what to expect, but I hope it’s a bit different from recent female-fronted blockbusters like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (with its pornographic rape scenes and weakened female characters (Lisbeth asking a guy if she can kill someone? Come on.)) and Twilight (do I really have to explain this one?). At least we don’t have the whole hyper-sexualized ad campaign going on:
(This was done by Kevin Bolk. Check out more of his stuff here: http://kevinbolk.deviantart.com/)
So, yeah, go see The Hunger Games this weekend. It’s important that we use our dollar to show Hollywood that we want more strong female characters.
This weekend, I saw Friends with Kids, a romantic comedy about two lifelong friends who both want kids, but not the commitment to a partner that comes with having kids. The film was written, directed, and co-produced by Jennifer Westfeldt, who also stars as one of the aforementioned friends (along with Adam Scott, whom I’ve loved since The Vicious Kind).
The first thing you’ll no doubt notice when decided whether or not you want to see this movie is the impressive ensemble cast: Westfeldt and Scott are joined by a whole slew of Bridesmaids cast members: Maya Rudolph, Kristen Wiig, Chris O’Dowd, and Jon Hamm. Megan Fox is also cast in what appears to be her first role of substance since being forced into playing the “sexy, troubled, and mysterious” type.
The cast, along with Westfeldt’s script, make this film a really enjoyable experience. The jokes are quick and well-delivered, and the moments of tense drama are handled very impressively. This movie has quite a few shifts in tone, and none of them feel forced or awkward. It’s a very real movie: you can imagine yourself as one of these people.
Despite being written from a female perspective, there still seems to be a whole lot of heteronormative behavior going on: Scott’s character handles the single parent role with much more ease (and fun), and Westfeldt’s character often expresses disappointment in herself because she is alone.
But, all in all, this is what a romantic comedy really should be: touching, funny, insightful, and thought-provoking. I laughed really, really hard at a lot of parts of this movie, and found myself caught up in the lives of these people. At the end of the day, I got exactly what I hoped I would get when I started this blog: a fresh perspective. I definitely recommend seeing this film, and Westfeldt deserves serious praise for making it happen.
Tonight, I watched my Super Bowl: the Academy Awards. This is the television event I look forward to every year. I watch as many of the films nominated as possible, root for my favorites, yell at the television, laugh out loud, and cry at a speech or two.
Last week, the LA Times ran a story about the folks that make up the Academy. Basically, they’re all white dudes (94% white, 77% male). Not surprisingly, the Academy seems to overwhelmingly favor films that are centered around white, male characters. This year, only one movie not centered around white males was nominated for Best Picture: The Help. And that movie is a whole ‘nother can of worms.
Now, I guess we can’t place ALL the blame on the Academy. Hollywood, after all churns out these types of movies left and right, and the movie-going public eats it up. In fact, out of the top 100 grossing movies released in 2011, only 12 are female-, or gyno-centric. That’s pretty wack, if you ask me.
So, it all got me thinking. What can I do to change this, and get a little more diversity in the film world? Certainly I can’t just scream about it online while still paying $8 to go see these male-driven movies.
Then it hit me like a Hilary Swank right-hook: the best way to get a corporation to change (in my opinion) is by affecting their bottom line. Every company that puts out movies is just a big corporation, after all. And, at the end of the day, they are just looking to put butts in theatre seats. If I want to see more movies that are gynocentric, I’ll only support (i.e. pay money to see) those types of films.
So, that’s the goal for the rest of the year. From today, February 26, 2012, until the night of the 85th Academy Awards, I hereby declare I will only go out to see, and only rent, women centric films. What exactly are women centric films? Women and Hollywood says this:
In order to be considered a women centric film, this film would have to focus on one or more female characters – one protagonist and/or other female characters – at the center of the narrative. A female protagonist or female lead constitutes therefore the main characteristic of women centric. It is her story, told from her perspective.
Women centric film differs from definitions such as woman’s film or chick flick in that it does not refer to a specific genre of films. In other words, it includes animated films, horror films, (romantic) comedies, fantasy and action films. What matters is that the story is told from her perspective – be it an animated female character or girl in the horror film.
Furthermore, women centric does not necessarily imply a feminist protagonist neither does it guarantee that a feminist ‘message’ is contained (although it might).
This means I won’t be seeing many of the big blockbusters like The Avengers, The Dark Knight, or The Hobbit this year. I’m admittedly pretty bummed about that, but this is something I want to do, and I don’t want to do it half-assed.
So who am I? I’m a straight, white, 23-year old male - a.k.a. a member of Hollywood’s most coveted demographic. I’m a college dropout, and I’ve never taken any feminist theory or women’s studies classes, so I probably have no idea what I’m talking about. But, alas, here I am. If I ever appear to be a total idiot, don’t hesitate to let me know.
I realize I’m just one person, but hey, maybe this can be the start of something cool. I’m going to update this blog as much as possible, with reviews and opinion pieces and other fun stuffs, and we’ll see how this little project of mine goes. Hopefully Hollywood will offer me something other than a bunch of romantic comedies wrapped up in gender norms this year. We’ll see.