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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Black Mass

Where Are the Women? Black Mass

Women are not people here. You’d be forgiven, in fact, for thinking that Boston between the mid 1970s and the mid 1990s was almost a lady-free zone.

BASIC REPRESENTATION SCORE: 0

[no significant representation of girls/women]

FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: -5

-5
Is there a woman who dies (either onscreen or off) whose death motivates a male protagonist? [why this matters]

THE MALE GAZE SCORE: -5

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

GENDER/SEXUALITY SCORE: -40

-5
Is femininity used as a joke (ie, a man crossdressing for humorous intent) in passing*? (*in this case, men are insulted by likening them to women) [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, adult children) [why this matters]


-10
Is there a female character who is sexually manipulated or abused by a male protagonist as a way to advance his story? [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: -50

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 are not people here (when they are here at all). They are cheerleaders for bad boys (if those bad boys are their sons), nagging scolds of bad boys (if those bad boys are their husbands), or inconvenient hookers (who just can’t keep their damn slut traps shut). You’d be forgiven for thinking that Boston between the mid 1970s and the mid 1990s was almost a lady-free zone.


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

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

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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