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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Beyond the Lights

WATWbeyondlights

This movie is so great a representation of women that even the female protagonist’s mother, the antagonist, is not primarily defined as a mother.

BASIC REPRESENTATION SCORE: +30

+25
Is there a female protagonist? [why this matters]
+5
Is she nonwhite? [why this matters]

FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: +14

+1
Is there a female character with insignificant screen time in a position of authority? [why this matters]
+1
More than one? [why this matters]


+10
Is there a female villain or antagonist? [why this matters]


+2
Is there a woman whose role could easily have been played by a man? [why this matters]

THE MALE GAZE SCORE: 0

[no issues]

GENDER/SEXUALITY SCORE: 0

-10
Does a man police or attempt to police a woman’s sexual agency? [why this matters]
+10
Is he rebuked for it, either directly (by a character onscreen) or indirectly (by how it is depicted)? [why this matters]

WILDCARD SCORE: +5

Is there anything either positive or negative in the film’s representation of women not already accounted for here? (points will vary)

The film directly confronts the matter of how women are used as sexualized objects in pop music, and shows a woman struggling to define herself as something other than a fantasy plaything for a male performer and male fans.

TOTAL SCORE: +49

IS THE FILM’S DIRECTOR FEMALE? Yes (Gina Prince-Bythewood) (does not impact scoring)

IS THE FILM’S SCREENWRITER FEMALE? Yes (Gina Prince-Bythewood) (does not impact scoring)

BOTTOM LINE: A woman trying to find a place in the world that suits her unique talents is the star of this show. This movie is so great a representation of women that even her mother, the antagonist, is not primarily defined as a mother.


Click here for the ranking of 2014’s Oscar-nominated films for female representation.

NOTE: This is not a “review” of Beyond the Lights! It is simply an examination of how well or how poorly it represents women. (A movie that represents women well can still be a terrible film; a movie that represents women poorly can still be a great film.) Read my review of Beyond the Lights.

See the full rating criteria. (Criteria that do not apply to this film have been deleted in this rating for maximum readability.)


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where are the women

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