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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Where Are the Women? Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Women here are mothers, “hot” girls, or are dying of a cancer that isn’t even her own story: it serves only as a life lesson for the male protagonist.

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 manic pixie dream girl? [why this matters]

FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: +3

+1
Is there a female character with insignificant screen time in a position of authority? [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: -10

-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 or biological relationship with a child or children? [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)

Unlike many movies of its ilk, in which it is the unspoken subtext that a woman’s suffering matters only inasmuch that it affects a man and gives him feels, this movie goes out of its way to overtly and explicitly emphasize that the viewer is not to think about the dying girl, not to worry about her at all, and that the man who is watching her suffer is the only person we should be focusing on.

TOTAL SCORE: -32

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

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

BOTTOM LINE: The only positive points here are earned by a female school principal who appears very briefly in one short scene. Apart from her, women are either mothering mothers, “hot” girls who exist only to torment teenaged boys with their attractiveness, or are dying of cancer in a Manic Pixie Dream Girl-ish way: that is, only in order to inspire a boy to become a better person. Her cancer is not her own; it serves as a life lesson for the male protagonist.


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

NOTE: This is not a “review” of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl! 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 Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.

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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posted in:
where are the women
  • RogerBW

    “…like the New Enzyme Detergent Demise of Ali McGraw in Love Story.”

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