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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Inherent Vice

WATWinherentvice

Women? If they’re not hookers or heartbreakers, they’re just standing around being decorative.

BASIC REPRESENTATION SCORE: 0

[no significant representation of girls/women]

FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: +1

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

THE MALE GAZE SCORE: -35

-10
Is there a female character with significant screen time who appears fully nude? [why this matters]


-5
Is a woman or women used as decorative objects/set dressing? [why this matters]
-20
Is this a major recurring visual motif? [why this matters]

GENDER/SEXUALITY SCORE: -25

-5
Is femininity used as a joke (ie, a man crossdressing for humorous intent) in passing? [why this matters]


-5
Is there a female character who is primarily defined by her emotional and/or sexual relationship with a man or men? [why this matters]


-5
Is a woman paired romantically with a man old enough to be her father? [why this matters]


-10
Is there a hooker with a heart of gold? [why this matters]

WILDCARD SCORE: 0

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

No.

TOTAL SCORE: -59

IS THE FILM’S DIRECTOR FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)

IS THE FILM’S SCREENWRITER FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)

BOTTOM LINE: Women? If they’re not hookers or heartbreakers, they’re just standing around being decorative. Even the one potentially positive female character — an assistant district attorney at a time (the early 1970s) when that would have been unusual — features her as primarily a sexual partner to the male protagonist; the only use of her authority we see is when she abuses it to help him.


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

Click here for the ongoing ranking of 2015’s films for female representation.

NOTE: This is not a “review” of Inherent Vice! 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.) I have no immediate plans to review the film.

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


This rating is brought to you without paywall restrictions by my generous Kickstarter supporters. If you missed out on the Kickstarter and would like to support this project, you may:

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• make a donation via Paypal


posted in:
where are the women
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  • Foster “Zissou” Breadford

    Not sure I agree 100% with your policework there, Lou.

  • Sagamanus

    But not sure you disagree either.

  • Foster “Zissou” Breadford

    Fair enough.

  • Sagamanus

    How did you find this site Zissou?

  • Sagamanus

    ??

  • jimin

    “Women? If they’re not hookers or heartbreakers, they’re just standing around being decorative.”

    Sounds an awful lot like real life.

  • Foster “Zissou” Breadford

    My comment got deleted? Why?

  • LaSargenta

    Sounds like you have to broaden your list of acquaintances.

  • That’s right. Women exist only to fuck or damage men. We do literally nothing else in the world.

  • You mean the one in which you appeared to be having a private conversation with another commenter who was not commenting on the post? Please don’t clutter up my comments section with stuff like that. Reply to posts or engage with other readers who are discussing the post.

  • Q

    There’s a female detective that does most of the actual detective work, Penny. Shasta Fey is the actual plot of the movie, who saves herself at the end of the movie. I don’t think you actually watched the film, lol.

  • Foster “Zissou” Breadford

    That’s quite an embellishment, but, alright, I’ll leave. I thought there would be room for a discussion about the movie here.

  • Bluejay

    Huh?

    She deleted your conversation that seemed random and unrelated to the movie.

    If you WANT to discuss the movie here, go right ahead!

  • Foster “Zissou” Breadford

    My deleted comments were both regarding the movie, so you’ll have to forgive me if something isn’t adding up for me here.

  • LaSargenta

    I recall at least a couple of the comments being an exchnge with someone called Lou and your surprise at seeing him/her here.

  • LaSargenta

    Oh no, we also feed them while they are children, or scar them for life.

    o_O

  • LaSargenta

    You mean the A.D.A.? She gave a point for that. It just was no where near enough to balance out the rest.

  • Foster “Zissou” Breadford

    2 comments were deleted. The Lou comment was a quote from Fargo demonstrating a difference of opinion. I meant it in relation to Inherent Vice. Clearly it was not taken as a quote from Fargo, though, so my bad. I was not talking to anyone named Lou. The other poster, named Sagamanus, made a post on the topic of disagreement, to which I responded also on topic.

  • Foster “Zissou” Breadford

    Is this site always so uninviting to new readers? I actually like what this site is doing but deleted comments and troll accusations are enough to get me to look elsewhere.

  • Bluejay

    Misunderstandings happen. Your previous comments looked random and off-topic, to the host and apparently to others here as well (we may not have taken to heart the dialogue from Fargo quite as much as you). You’re free to comment again and share, perhaps more clearly, your opinion on the film.

  • Anna

    Outside of the absence of women, did you enjoy the movie? Or is a film’s quality only decided by whether or not every available party is represented appropriately, entirely, etc.?

  • Anna

    I do agree that the characterization of women was fairly weak, but I would also like to point out that the drug-hazed characterization of almost every character was weak. That’s kind of the point. It’s Pynchon. If you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it.

  • LaSargenta

    Below the box with the tabs about the various ways women are or aren’t represented is the following paragraph:

    NOTE: This is not a “review” of Inherent Vice! 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.) I have no immediate plans to review the film.

    Although she isn’t planning on reviewing it, you can see where she ranked it on the page titled “2014 Films Ranked”.

    If you look through the Where Are The Women posts, including the earliest, exploratory posts, you’ll get a bigger picture of this exercise.

  • Your “Lou” comment *was* recognized for the quote it was. You want to disagree with me, fine. Explain your disagreement. You don’t get to drop snarky one-liners and leave it at that.

  • Ah! If the female detective you’re referring to was so awesome (and I don’t know if you mean the ADA or the other friend), why isn’t the movie about her?

    Women doing stuff offscreen is a *bad* thing. They should be onscreen and part of the actual story.

  • I hate the film because its an incoherent mess.

    Why don’t you try exploring more of the WATW ratings and my reviews of the same films and see how often I love a movie that represents women poorly, and hate a movie that represents them well.

    Though I suppose it’s easier to just dismiss this entire project as irrelevant.

  • a

    True, there was *so much* going on, but the wiki summary cleared it up for me. I think I might read the book. Hopefully you review the film. As for me, I thought it was pretty good.

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