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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? is dead — long live Where Are the Women?

The six-month period for Where Are the Women? that my Kickstarter campaign was meant to support has now ended. But I’m going to continue with the project through the end of the year.

I believe I have overdelivered on what I promised: rating and ranking every film nominated for any Oscar earlier this year put me well over the goal of rating and ranking five films per week. But take away the Oscar ratings, and I think I’ve still done more than I promised. I have a few U.S. wide releases still to rate and rank (because I haven’t yet had access to them here in London), but I’ll get to those as soon as possible (ie, when they open here or when I can access them via U.S. VOD). And the few U.K. wide releases I haven’t yet gotten to will be completed this week or soon after.

There are some rewards I still have to fulfill for some Kickstarter donors — by-request reviews of classic films from a feminist perspective — and I will do those in July.

I’ve been conflicted about what to do regarding continuing the project. I know that the overall value of it will come at the end of the year, when we can look back over a year’s worth of films and evaluate the state of women’s representation. On the other hand, I am beyond disappointed at how little interest there seems to have been beyond the little digital shores of FlickFilosopher.com: I’ve tried to get coverage elsewhere on the Web and had little luck (though I’ll keep trying). I’m especially disappointed at how the feminist web has simply ignored this project: so much for sisterhood. I had hoped that the project would encourage those who hadn’t contributed to the Kickstarter to either start a subscription to the site or make a pledge at Patreon, but that hasn’t happened either to any noticeable degree.

I have had lots of readers tell me how valuable what I’m doing is, and that’s always wonderful to hear. But I can’t pay rent or buy groceries with that.

I can’t imagine doing this all again next year unless something really amazing happens that kicks the project into some much higher level of financial reward for me and publicity reward for the project.

To say that I am really, really depressed right now would be an understatement.

Anyway, going forward, from now on, new Where Are the Women? ratings pages will be behind the paywall. (I’ll leave the rankings page free for all to see all the time. And the rewards reviews will also be outside the paywall, when I post them, since they were covered by the Kickstarter.)

I know money is tight for everyone these days — me too! like you cannot believe — but if you’re in a position to either become a monthly or yearly subscriber of FlickFilospher.com (if you’re not already) or make a pledge at Patreon or make a one-time donation via Paypal to support the Where Are the Women? project going forward, I would be intensely grateful.

I might also offer to sell Where Are the Women? lapel pins and postcards at outrageously inflated prices to support the project. (I have a bunch left over after sending them to Kickstarter supporters.) Drop a comment below if that’s something that might potentially interest you.

I am immensely thankful to those of you who are already site subscribers and who did support the Kickstarter (and I know there’s a lot of overlap between the two groups). I am always astonished at the devotion of the dedicated readers of this site. You all are pretty much the only thing that keeps me going, to know that there are some people who care deeply about what I’m doing her. Thank you again.


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  • LaSargenta

    Hail WATW.

  • Jay Matteo

    I know you said that nice words don’t pay the bills, but I would still like you to know that your project has been really important to me on a personal level.

    I’ve considered myself a feminist for a long time, but it’s only in the last couple years that I’ve come to understand what that really means for a Gen Ex dude like me.

    The dialogue that has finally been happening in this time, aided by the internet and projects like WATW has taught me that feminism is way more than feeling and saying things like, “Well of COURSE you should be treated as an equal.”

    I thought I could pat myself on the back and feel good about being a feminist. Then conversations about privilege started popping up all over the place. This was kind of a new concept for me. I was pissed at myself that I could miss something that seemed so obvious. I had knee-jerk reactions along the lines of, “That can’t apply to me. I’m a ‘nice guy’.”

    I’m not even close to being done learning and changing. I’ve accepted that and it’s actually something I’m proud of. It’s people like you and the things you’ve done that have helped me become a better person.

    Thank you, MaryAnn. I’m really glad I have access to your voice.

  • I know you said that nice words don’t pay the bills

    Yes, but they’re still nice to hear. :-) Thank you.

  • David C-D

    I’ll just take the chance to express my growing appreciation for this project. When you first proposed the idea, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it – although it seemed like a worthwhile endeavor, it sounded like a slog, and I thought it would be hard to sustain interest as a reader. As it went along, though, I found myself clicking through each tab for each movie. I particularly enjoyed the juxtaposition of the review and the WATW analysis.

    Although collecting data is always good, what I really appreciate is the sustained attention and analysis of issues that might otherwise fly under the radar, such as the way female characters tend to be generic or invisible or passive or victimized. It is one thing to affirm that many movies have these problems; quite another to see the analysis of each and every film, week after week.

    I often wonder, as I am reading the WATW posts, whether you are holding yourself back in order to keep the prose short. It is obviously a topic that you are passionate about, and frequently when the review goes in a different direction from the WATW analysis, I wish I could hear more of your thinking specific to the WATW topic. I realize that more prose doesn’t give more data to analyze, but it does give insights that aren’t always apparent from the data.

    One tweak I would suggest is to penalize movies that portray an all-male environment. There is nothing wrong with choosing such a subject, and the movie could be totally worthwhile, but it is still a movie that doesn’t represent women onscreen.

    I hope that you find the right direction to take this project in the future, as you are providing an analysis that is badly needed.

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