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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Pixels

Where Are the Women? Pixels

There are movies that treat women as if they’re trophies for men. And then there’s this movie, in which a woman is an actual trophy awarded to a man.

BASIC REPRESENTATION SCORE: -20

-10
Could the protagonist have been female without significantly impacting the film as a whole? (for a film with a male protagonist) [why this matters]


-10
Is there a woman who is mostly pretty awesome and perfect who is present to support a man improving himself? [why this matters]

FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: +5

+5
Is there a female character (either a protagonist or a supporting character with significant screen time) in a position of authority (politics, law, medicine, etc.)? [why this matters]

THE MALE GAZE SCORE: -25

-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: -15

-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 there a female character who is primarily defined by her emotional or biological relationship with a child or children*? (*in this case, an adult child) [why this matters]

WILDCARD SCORE: -10

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

-5
The female character in a position of authority mentioned elsewhere? She is present solely to be awesome perfect support for the male protagonist, and so that she can be won over by him despite the fact that he is an unsocialized boor.
-5
A woman who is barely a character — she is a mute personification of a videogame character — is awarded to a man at the end of the film as a literal trophy for his success.

TOTAL SCORE: -65

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

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

BOTTOM LINE: There are movies that treat women as if they’re trophies for men who triumph. And then there’s this movie, in which a woman is awarded to a man as an actual trophy. (She’s not able to speak, so she can’t say anything in protest.) And that’s on top of all its other offenses against women.


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

NOTE: This is not a “review” of Pixels! 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 Pixels.

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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  • RogerBW

    Huh. Those uppity women. Always demanding to be treated like real people.

  • The women in this movie don’t demand it. They are delighted to be prizes for men.

  • Tonio Kruger

    And worse yet, there is absolutely no discussion in this post of their sandwich-making ability. The horror, the horror.

  • womens rights activist 5

    You should have seen Hot Pursuit if you wanted a comedy movie with women.

  • Since that’s a wide release this year, I will be seeing it and rating it. What’s your point? This project is not about what *I* “want” to see onscreen. It’s about what is actually going on across all major films onscreen.

  • LaSargenta

    You know that she doesn’t just watch movies for fun, right? I mean, I gather she loves film and visual storytelling; but, she is a film critic…so that means that for every Mad Max:Fury Road she’s got to see a dozen Piranha 3DD or Human Centipedes. I doubt she really gets to ‘choose’.

    o_O

  • womens rights activist 5

    LaSargenta, there are just as many greens as there are reds in her ranking. And she rarely gives extreme praise/ extreme violent hate — those films are “special”. Maryann, I checked the criteria and it seems to rate well so hopefully SOME enjoyment stems and you find it worthwhile.

  • Danielm80

    It would be hilarious to compile a list of all the sarcastic film recommendations MaryAnn gets when people think she isn’t sophisticated enough to appreciate their favorite films. Recently, people have suggested Hot Pursuit and Marley and Me. A while back, someone told her to stick with soap operas and documentaries. We could put together a list of titles and then try to construct a personality profile of the sort of person they think is running this site.

  • LaSargenta

    You’ve been through all of her “films ranked” pages? I’m sure there’s things she’s seen that she hasn’t bothered to review or even rank. Of the ones she’s ranked, by and large, the reds slightly outnumber the greens and if you carefully look at the yellows, most of them, I think, are closer to the red end.

    It is possible, though, that you are looking only at her Rotten tomatoes pages. I didn’t count those up. That’s a strict binary, so it really isn’t the same as what she does here.

  • Tonio Kruger

    You know what movie MaryAnn should really see? Raiders of the Lost Ark. I bet she’d like that one.

    And you know what else she might like? The original The Evil Dead movie. After all, it has Bruce Campbell in it and I read somewhere that MaryAnn likes Bruce Campbell.

    Of course, if MaryAnn really wanted to enjoy a movie, she might wanna go rent a copy of The Princess Bride. I bet she could get a whole book out of that flick…

  • LaSargenta

    Naaaah. She really has to see Mad Max : Fury Road!

  • womens rights activist 5

    Shes already seen that film. And I just checked her ranking, a yellow light constitutes to a ‘meh’ review. If she hated the film she’d give it a red. And there are seemingly just as many greens as red, you can say that the reds “slightly outnumber” the greens but it’s only August. Just watch. The green list will get huge — hence, she doesn’t see 12 “Piranha 3DD’s” for every “Mad Max” as I’ve said before — movies *that* good/bad are *special* Get it?

  • womens rights activist 5

    Take note, she liked Machete Kills, Grace of Monco and 47 Ronin — there’s hope for Hot Pursuit.

  • Jurgan

    There was one exchange that went on for three or four emails in which someone kept insisting that Maryann’s favorite movie was Driving Miss Daisy (that was in the pre-Disqus days when the only conversations were via email that Maryann later published on the site).

  • Danielm80

    I think some of these commenters are convinced that MaryAnn is Miss Daisy and will need to lie down if she sees a movie with any of that awful sex and violence.

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