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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

women do *so* go to the movies…

…though we maybe shouldn’t watch TV. Plus: Megan Fox is sexy! And more.

Yup, it’s The Week in Women, my regular column over at the Alliance of Women Film Journalists. Enjoy.



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maryann buzz
  • redana

    And forget Pirate Radio: the boat HQ of the illegal broadcaster is boys only — well, there’s one girl present, to cook, but she’s a lesbian, so she doesn’t really count.

    Erm… what? A lesbian doesn’t really count? I’m trying really hard not to be offended by this statement, but I’m losing the battle. If that’s what you think the movie or the movie industry is saying, then maybe that could have been clarified. If that’s what you personally say, then … I have no words, really.

  • JT

    Earlier in the week, I read about that study regarding violence against women on TV and the first thought I had was that I don’t trust the PTC to conduct a fair study of anything. Undoubtedly there is increasing violence against female characters in TV and movies, but I look forward to a study from a neutral source because I would never ever cite them.

  • Accounting Ninja

    If that’s what you think the movie or the movie industry is saying, then maybe that could have been clarified.

    This is probably it. Though I haven’t seen the movie, I can guess that unless they fire off a few gay jokes at her expense, she remains largely invisible to the plot and does not get explored much at all as a character.

  • David

    It is not what you ‘think’ the movie is saying, they outright say it several times throughout.

  • Lisa

    It’s weird that you say that about on-screen fictional violence – doesn’t the real life media do the same thing everytime a young pretty girl goes missing?

    there is not the same craziness made about young boys that go missing

  • And Hirschberg plays right along, buying into Fox as a sex symbol and turning around and reselling her to us that way.

    But does Ms. Hirschberg really feel that way or is she just slanting the story that way in order to be better able to sell it to her publisher?

    I suspect the answer would be depressing either way, but I hope for the sake of Ms. Hirschberg’s self-respect that she at least knows better for I’d rather consider her to be a sellout or a hypocrite than, say, an useful idiot.

    Women — or females, at least — are all but absent from Fantastic Mr. Fox, except Meryl Streep as the alternately scolding and praising wife to the titular character; the male animals are the ones who get to have all the adventure and all the fun, and they’re the ones who get to learn things about themselves and grow as people.

    And yet you’ve been advertising that movie all week, it seems, if not all month…

    And forget Pirate Radio: the boat HQ of the illegal broadcaster is boys only — well, there’s one girl present, to cook, but she’s a lesbian, so she doesn’t really count.

    And now you’re criticizing some poor woman’s math skills? Shame on you, MaryAnn…Oh, wait…

  • Henry

    Oh honestly, redana. I think that if one engages her reading comprehension skills it becomes relatively obvious that MAJ was being snarky. Google “writer’s voice,” why don’t you.

    Lisa: you’re right — especially if the young women also happen to be white, pretty, virginal, and upper- or middle-class. I think that the networks tell themselves (and their viewers) that the obsessive coverage is not intended to titillate but to publicize the search in order to increase the likelihood that they’ll be found; this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But I think, as the article points out, it’s again an issue of range — the demographic of missing persons deemed worthy of such attention is so narrow it makes you wonder if something else is going on.

  • MaryAnn

    And yet you’ve been advertising that movie all week, it seems, if not all month…

    Really?

    No: really?

    First of all, there was nothing at all offensive about the *Mr Fox* ad that’s been running here for a while; what’s more, it was an ad for a movie, which is at least far more targeted to the readers here than some of the other ads are. And I *have* deleted ads here that *are* offensive, even when letting them run would have made me money. So if you want to imply that I’m being somehow hypocritical, at least say so directly, and offer up something to back it up. But I have actually put my own bottom line aside for principle here — usually quietly, without saying anything about it, because I’m not doing it for any reason other than my own karma. I actually told a rep from my ad service recently that there were things I would not do here (like compromise the privacy of my readers) in return for higher CPMs.

    But running an ad for a movie? I have absolutely no problem with that. And I wouldn’t have a problem with that even if it were for a movie I didn’t like, unless the ad itself were somehow offensive.

    If someday I land a windfall and don’t have to earn a living for myself, I’ll remove every ad from this site. And you can hold me to that.

    Second, is it not at all clear from my writings — and certainly at the Week in Women column — that I’m often talking about entertainment and our culture in the larger context, in the aggregate? *Mr Fox* is not offensive in itself for being almost entirely about male characters. Many of the movies that are almost entirely about male characters are not offensive in themselves. If our entertainment culture was as concerned with telling equally complex stories about female characters, and we had lots of weird or funky or ordinary or boring or wonderful or ho-hum movies about as full a range of women as we see men depicted, it would not be worth mentioning at all that some movies feature almost all male characters, with whatever few female characters they have being relegated to supporting roles.

    But when — week after week — almost every movie (certainly almost every wide release) is dominated by boys and men, then yes, I will absolutely complain about that. Not necessarily about the individual films, but about the culture that forces the movies intended for popular consumption to restrict themselves to the experiences of only half the human race.

    Yes, I am going to bitch about that.

    *Fantastic Mr Fox* is a fantastic movie. But it does not exist in a vacuum.

  • MaryAnn

    Earlier in the week, I read about that study regarding violence against women on TV and the first thought I had was that I don’t trust the PTC to conduct a fair study of anything. Undoubtedly there is increasing violence against female characters in TV and movies, but I look forward to a study from a neutral source because I would never ever cite them.

    JT: Do you think PTC was predisposed to find an increase in violence against women, but not an increase in violence in general? Why do you distrust the conclusion they came to?

  • MaryAnn

    If that’s what you personally say, then … I have no words, really.

    Oh, for Christ’s sake: No, that’s not what I’m personally saying. Even if you’ve read nothing else I’ve ever written, I’m stunned you could get to the bottom of this single column and come to that conclusion.

    I hope for the sake of Ms. Hirschberg’s self-respect that she at least knows better for I’d rather consider her to be a sellout or a hypocrite than, say, an useful idiot.

    Sellouts and hypocrites are the antithesis of self-respect. An idiot at least doesn’t know any better, and might be able to believe she’s doing well.

    Either way, though: it’s not a mark in the *Times*’ favor that they consider this quality journalism.

  • Paul

    I think the stronger and more entrenched feminism becomes in society, the greater the push back against it becomes. The Christian Conservatives failed; after decades of the 700 Club and Reaganeque family values, women outnumber men in both college and the workplace and more children are born out of wedlock than in. Now is coming the push back from the economic conservatives, who sit on the mountain top of our society and see their ladder climbing sons slowly being swamped by the rising tide of . . . their daughters, and other women, too. It’s the economic conservatives who own our media; its just most obvious with FOX. It’s the same with Obama; when he became President, a lot of racists came out of the closet and onto the stage.

    The Network people want to attract women viewers, so they put more women on screen, but they don’t want to be threatened by strong women characters, so they thematically castrate them.

    I do wonder how FOX managed set the stage for liberal icons like “The Simpsons” and “Buffy,” but maybe they just didn’t know what they were getting into. Michael Moore pointed out that capitalism greatest weakness it that it would sell you the rope to hang itself, so maybe the FOX exes just did the math on a pretty blonde girl and sexy vampires and okayed it. I know the “Simpsons” guys demanded, and got, total artistic control before signing anything, which was a smart move on their part.

  • Accounting Ninja

    @Paul, sadly, from what I’ve noticed, “liberal” media is just as likely as FOX is to be sexist. It’s almost worse coming from the left, but come it does. At least with right-wingers, especially the religious right, you know where women stand with them. But it stings hard from supposedly liberal creators who are socially progressive EXCEPT when it comes to women. See Family Guy, etc.

  • Paul

    That’s because a lot of the “liberal” media is also owned by conservatives. And sometimes liberal guys can feel a little threatened by feminism, too, since it leaves us uncertain of our roles.

  • CB

    @Paul:

    It’s no mystery at all how The Simpsons landed on Fox. Back when they were a 2nd rate channel going nowhere fast, they decided to stake their future on airing shows that the major 3 networks wouldn’t. Thus “The Simpsons” and “Married With Children”, without which Fox wouldn’t have survived.

    Also remember that Fox and Fox News are different with different target demographics. To the extent that those demographics overlap it still isn’t surprising that they have different tastes in their news versus their entertainment.

    To the extent that Fox News is a vehicle for Murdoch’s conservative views, Fox itself is just a revenue stream and he’s more than happy to put Buffy on the air if it lines his coffers. Money above all else, even politics.

    Which is also true for all the other stations. :)

    @Ninja:

    I know what you mean. It’s similar to racism, where at least when/where it was acceptable to be racist, you knew where someone stood because they would make no bones about it. Now, it’s more hidden and subtle and you find yourself seeing it where it may or may not exist, and either way people will act offended if you try to call them out. See recent politics — sure a lot of people criticizing the President are in no way racist, but don’t tell me a lot of racists haven’t latched onto the same arguments. But damned if you can separate them.

    I think a lot of people, especially the liberal sexists, don’t want to be prejudiced, but old habits die hard.

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