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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

the continued invisibility of women in Hollywood…

…a new part of our bodies we gals must learn to hate; Sex Slave: The Movie won’t be exploitive, the (male) director promises; and more.

It’s The Week in Women, my regular column over at the Alliance of Women Film Journalists. Read it and weep.



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  • andrés

    hey,
    is the AWFJ’s webpageworking?

  • Paul

    Well, if the old boy’s club had too many girls, they might have to treat them as women instead.

  • Worked fine for me (Safari).

    Thanks, Ms. Johanson, for this work that you do. I’m a regular lurker, initially coming looking for Doctor Who but staying for the rest!

  • amanohyo.com

    Plot holey shit! New Moon made $258 million worldwide on its opening weekend, with 80% of the tickets bought by women. If Hollywood movers and shakers don’t see how desperate women are to see a movie made with their perspective in mind after this, they’re seriously in denial. Perhaps this will herald the growth of a new genre, the tween action/romance, that will bear some edible fruit down the line.

    Girls around the world (not all of you, just the ones who bought tickets), you have terrible taste; however I can’t help but feel this is progress… sort of? maybe?… if we ignore all the creepy, anti-feminist obsessive stalker content? Okay, maybe it’s not progress. Just as with MBFGW and SatC, I feel like saying, “Good job ladies, but did you really have to mobilize for this movie?”

    Women of Earth, is this what your lowest common denominator looks like? Count Sparkula, yuppie vampires, and shirtless shaved underwear models frolicking in the forest? Is this a woman’s version of a Michael Bay movie, and if so, is it really so bad for women to get their turn to openly ogle some beefcake for a change? I don’t know what to think about all of this. It would be so much easier if the books and movies weren’t so retrograde and illiterate.

  • Mathias

    Why do i get the feeling that Hollywood Execs will see New Moon’s $140 million opening weekend haul and say “More fantasy romance films, stat!” instead of “More films exploring the female experience, with female protags, preferably written and directed by women.” ?

  • Alli

    I think the response will be, “Keep doing the same stuff, just make the men take their shirts off all the time. Oh and have him stare intently in her eyes for awhile too. ” (On a side note, this is why I think Prince of Persia will do well because it will be several hours of Jake Gyllenhaal with half a shirt).

    I saw a Gloria Steinem quote today that made me feel a bit better about all of this: “When mediocre women do as well as mediocre men, then I’ll know we’re getting somewhere.”

  • Joan

    New Moon is an exception, of course, just like the last big female-intensive flick before it, and the one before that. You could have five movies made by and/or aimed at women (and girls) come out in a month and make $100 million each, and somehow they’d all be considered exceptions. The all-mighty power of the 18-49 male audience is powerful enough to give executives goldfish memories concerning the fact that, hey, women have interests and money too. It’s a surprise every time.

  • As much as I’ve railed against the Twilight books and movies, they’re no stupider than Transformers/GI Joe and other movies aimed squarely at 12-year-old boys. The only difference is that we consider the 12 y.o. Boy to be the Universal Experience. I say when just as many crappy media products can be aimed at immature girls as immature boys, we will have achieved equality.

  • Aw… I misread this as “invincibility of women” and thought we’d stumbled onto a secret sect of superpowered female movie executives.

  • Mike

    “OPENING THIS WEEK. The Twilight Saga: New Moon continues, in what will likely be one of the biggest movies of the year, if not ever. Never mind that, at best, the film is an exercise in panding to juvenile female sexuality. (What woman can’t recall that moment in early adolescence when boys were starting to be intriguing but were still scary, too? Most of us do outgrow that feeling, however.)”

    I’ve neither seen the movie, nor read a romance novel, but isn’t this series just a cgi enhanced version of a romance novel? If so, the notion that this kind of escapism is “pandering to juvenile female sexuality” is off the mark. Romance novels are read by women (and some men) of all ages. Everybody’s got the right to experience their sexuality however they want to (among consenting adults). Denigrating someone’s choice with the epithet “juvenile” because their choice is different from yours is beneath you.

    You’re point about the Writer’s Access Project is excellent, however, and deserves much wider circulation: “Also mentioned in the report is the WGA’s Writers Access Project, which puts scripts by women and minority writers in front of executive-level TV folks and ask them to evaluate — without knowing the identities of those who wrote them — whether they would hire those writers based on the submitted scripts. Invariably, the report notes, the judges are hugely impressed by what they read, and often do hire those writers, even though they may be female (or nonwhite, or gay or lesbian)”

  • MaryAnn

    I’ve neither seen the movie, nor read a romance novel, but isn’t this series just a cgi enhanced version of a romance novel? If so, the notion that this kind of escapism is “pandering to juvenile female sexuality” is off the mark. Romance novels are read by women (and some men) of all ages. Everybody’s got the right to experience their sexuality however they want to (among consenting adults). Denigrating someone’s choice with the epithet “juvenile” because their choice is different from yours is beneath you.

    Perhaps you should read what I’ve written about the movies — or even see them for yourself — before you castigate me. The *Twilight* stories are quite literally juvenile: they embody the fear of boys and sex that young adolescent girls experience when we first start to find them interesting.

    Romance novels have SEX in them. At least the first two *Twilight* movies actively and explicitly avoid sex. This is not just a “cgi enhanced version of a romance novel.”

    Is this a woman’s version of a Michael Bay movie, and if so, is it really so bad for women to get their turn to openly ogle some beefcake for a change?

    It’s not so bad. But where’s the beefcake I want to ogle? These little boys don’t do it for me.

  • JadeFox

    Even though New Moon doing well is a major sign that women will go to the box office, I can’t take this as progress. Yes New Moon is utter crap. Yes, there are male oriented mainstream films that are utter crap as well. But even though Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen exists and many like it, I have yet to see a female equivalent of The Dark Knight, Iron Man, The first two GodFathers: Male oriented blockbusters that DO NOT suck.

    I do think that now that women have expressed their buying power, perhaps we should start demanding better quality films. As one gossip blogger Lainey puts it:

    “So piss poor reviews, critical snickering, cheap ass CGI, and several budget weaves, none of that matters. Because Twilight fans have proved to Summit that they don’t have to make a good movie. They just have to make ANY movie, so long as it’s about Bella and Edward. From a business perspective then, if I were Summit, I wouldn’t bother spending much money on production either.”

    Yeah.

  • chuck

    I have not read the books or seen the movies, I did see a clip on Leno the other night and it made me squirm a bit in how banal it seemed. I see that Twilight is coming to a cable channel soon so maybe I’ll catch it then.

    It’s hard to argue with that kind of money for opening weekend. So maybe that’s a good thing for female novelists and screenwriters, I hope so.

    On the minus side if the movie is not a well written story with broad appeal, whatever good it’s done might be quickly undone. The series might quickly become a bad joke.

    jadefox – I have yet to see a female equivalent of The Dark Knight, Iron Man, The first two GodFathers: Male oriented blockbusters that DO NOT suck.

    “Titanic” might fit this requirement, I didn’t think it sucked at all and it was a blockbuster. Even though much of the hype was about the male lead, in my opionion the story was more about the female lead. So it is possible, no matter how hard it seems to do, to make a quality, broad appeal blockbuster featuring a woman.

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