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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? The Perfect Guy

Where Are the Women? The Perfect Guy

Hooray for a black female protagonist. Boo that she is all about romance, and that the film blames her for the dangerous situation she finds herself in.

BASIC REPRESENTATION SCORE: +30

+25
Is there a female protagonist? [why this matters]
+5
Is she nonwhite? [why this matters]

FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: +2

+2
Is there a woman whose role could easily have been played by a man? [why this matters]

THE MALE GAZE SCORE: -20

-5
Is a woman or women used as decorative objects/set dressing? [why this matters]
-10
Are one or more either a protagonist or significant supporting character? [why this matters]
-5
Does this include gratuitous “booty” shots? [why this matters]

GENDER/SEXUALITY SCORE: -10

-5
Is there a female character whose primary goal is romantic (to get married, enter into a longterm relationship with a man, etc)? [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]


-10
Does a man police or attempt to police a woman’s sexual agency? [why this matters]
+10
Is he rebuked for it, either directly (by a character onscreen) or indirectly (by how it is depicted)? [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)

+5
The film deals with the issue of stalking and abusive behavior by men toward women in romantic relationships, and though it’s all exaggerated for dramatic impact, the escalation of the scenario — from “he was a real gentleman and a genuine charmer” to “he got violent out of all proportion for no reason” to “he won’t take no for an answer and the cops’ hands are tied” — is fairly realistic and mirrors many women’s experiences that are hardly ever depicted on the big screen.
-5
On the other hand, the film appears to blame its female protagonist for having put herself in a position to be abused and stalked in the first place. If only she’d been content with her previous boyfriend, even though he didn’t want to get married and didn’t want to have children: perhaps she shouldn’t have broken up with him? There is an underlying suggestion that women simply expect too much from men, and the apparent “perfect” ones are in fact the worst of the lot. Better to settle, if that imperfect guy isn’t quite right for you.

TOTAL SCORE: +2

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

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

BOTTOM LINE: Hooray for a black female protagonist. Boo that she is all about romance (the apparently high-powered job she holds is never a factor; we don’t even know what it is she does until far too late in the film, and it never has any bearing on her predicament). Boo that the male director treats her like a decorative object (don’t all women fantasize about watching themselves take a steamy shower?). Boo that the film blames her for the dangerous romantic situation she finds herself in, and suggests that her perfectly reasonable romantic aspirations are somehow the cause of it.


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

NOTE: This is not a “review” of The Perfect Guy! 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 The Perfect Guy.

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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