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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

more men I am officially tired of being asked to sympathize with in movies

bigshortmen

UPDATED!

Another year, another slate of films dominated by all the things that men do. While there were some great stories about women at the cinema in 2015 (though stay tuned: I noticed something suspicious about many of them, which I will write about soon), The Movies as a cultural monolith were dominated by men. So it felt like time to update my list of men I am tired of being asked to sympathize with. As the new additions — as well as the original list further below — demonstrate, there is almost nothing that men can do, think, or be that The Movies will not deem worthy of telling a story about.

Note: I didn’t necessarily hate all the films referenced here, and I quite liked a lot of them. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem that movies are overwhelmingly about men’s stories.

men walking up a mountain
men walking in the woods
men walking on Mars
men walking on tight ropes
men walking across bridges
men walking on battlefields
men buying other people’s mortgages
men betting against people’s mortgages
men selling computers
men who build superadvanced AIs in their own images
men who build superadvanced AIs so they can fuck them
men defying Hollywood
men defying the Church
men defying the NFL
men defying their own nations for the greater good, dammit
men surviving on the frontier
men surviving in the ’hood
men surviving as they are basically held prisoner in their own apartment
men surviving the Holocaust
men surviving on the ocean
men surviving their own brilliant minds
men talking about themselves
men talking about journalism
men talking about murder
men talking about the banality of evil
men debating other men
men hitting other men
men photographing other men
men making a name for themselves
men just trying to make music, dammit
men chasing manic pixie dream girls
men talking to dinosaurs
men building monsters
men fighting monsters
men hunting monsters
men who are monsters
men who are just there for another dude, man
men who kill women and think they should get away with it


PREVIOUS: 10.21.14

A motif that I noticed recurring during the just-wrapped London Film Festival has inspired me to add two more kinds of men whom I am tired of being asked to sympathize with:

men suffering for their art
men making other people suffer for their art

(Please note that my tiredness with how often these types of men appear in stories that ask us to feel for them does not automatically mean that I cannot feel for them, or that I didn’t end up enjoying their stories. It means only that I wish we would see as many stories about women doing these things whom male moviegoers would be expected to sympathize with.)


PREVIOUS: 03.02.14

I was already on edge before last night’s Oscars, when a recent viewing of The Great Beauty, nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, infuriated me with its pretentious bullshit. Pretentious bullshit is always bad enough, but this pretentious bullshit presumes that the viewer will be able to identify with — even if it’s to ultimately reject him — an old rich white man who’s jaded and bored with his decadent lifestyle, including nonstop partying (after which he goes home to his female housekeeper, who feeds him and makes sure he wakes up in time to get to his next party), attending strip clubs and discussing a performing woman like she’s livestock, and sleeping with more than one much younger woman.

And then The Great Beauty won that Oscar.

And then the Oscar producers figured it would be awesome to give us multiple montages celebrating “heroes” in movies: Superman, Indiana Jones, Frodo Baggins, T.E. Lawrence, Chief Martin fucking Brody, for Christ’s sake. And so on and so on and so on. Basically any man who’s done anything vaguely interesting in a movie. Which is all of them. (I loved the cut to a scowling Emma Watson in the audience after Harry Potter showed up in one of the montages; I could hear her thinking, Hey, Hermione Granger did some heroic stuff, too! But it’s not a great thing that women who are pissed off at not being adequately represented in Hollywood films is a punchline.)

Look. I know how to identify with and empathize with male protagonists in movies. I had to learn how to do that if I wanted to enjoy movies. But I’m so damn tired of this being a requirement for almost every movie I see.

I am tired of being asked to sympathize with men, and being offered the courtesy of the opposite — a movie with a female protagonist that men are expected to sympathize with — on only vanishingly rare occasions.

I am tired of how, every time I mention the lack of “strong” female protagonists, someone interrupts with “But Ripley!” Alien is 35 years old. Having to reach back across a third of a century for an example of a strong female protagonist is an indictment, not a defense.

I am already tired anticipating how “But Sandra Bullock in Gravity!” is going to replace “But Ripley!” and that a single movie will be, in the eyes of some, deemed sufficient representation of women starring in their own stories for the next third of a century.

These are all the sorts of men I am tired of being asked to sympathize with*:

old men
young men
rich men
poor men
sad men
happy men
men in love
lonely men
sadsack men
ugly and ignored men
handsome men
men who are a mess
men who are drunks and don’t want to change that
men who are drunks and struggle to overcome it
men who are sick and dying
men who are sick and getting well
men who have everything together
men who fuck younger women
men who fuck older women
men who fuck men and are conflicted about it
men who fuck men and are content with it
horny teenaged boys
men who are feuding with their brothers
men who are feuding with their fathers
men who are tight with their brothers
men who are tight with their fathers
men who are criminals
men who have been unjustly accused of crimes they did not commit
men who have been unjustly convicted of crimes they did not commit
men who have avoided a life of crime through sheer determination
men who are forced into a life of crime by desperate circumstance
men who are cops
men who are tight with their brother cops
men in the military
men who are tight with their brother soldiers
men whose careers are in a tailspin
men whose careers are going great
men just doing a job, dammit
men who go to strip clubs
men who patronize prostitutes
men who are lazy
men who are ambitious
men fighting the system
men perpetuating the system
men who are sensitive
men who are sensitive but unable to express themselves
men who are insensitive and have no problem expressing themselves
men who are married and miserable
men who are married and happy
men who are single and miserable
men who are single and happy
men who beat up women
men who rescue women
men who are just trying to do what’s right for their families, dammit
men who are pushing back against cultural conventions
men who have given in to cultural conventions
men fighting monsters
men fighting aliens
men who think they should police their daughters’ sexuality
men who think they should police their sisters’ sexuality
men who build great things
men who destroy great things
men with guns
men who wish they had guns
men who are deeply committed to martial arts
men who are deeply committed to religion
men who are deeply committed to their art
men just trying to survive in a harsh world
men having adventures
men who want to have adventures
men stuck in adventures they’d rather not be having
men just trying to get home
men in capes
men in robot suits
men in capes fighting men in capes
men in robot suits fighting men in robot suits
men in masks
men in masks fighting men in masks
men in masks fighting men in capes
men in robot suits fighting men in masks
men in capes fighting men in robot suits
men who sacrifice everything for the people they love
men who sacrifice everything for the places they love
men who sacrifice everything for the ideals they cherish

In her acceptance speech for her Best Actress win for Blue Jasmine last night, Cate Blanchett said this about movies about women: “People want to see them, and in fact, they make money. The world is round, people.” Exactly. It’s time to come out of the Dark Ages, Hollywood, when it comes to movies about women.

*not an exhaustive list — feel free to add your own in comments!


  • LaSargenta

    Bwahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!

    “But Ripley!”
    “But Sandra Bullock in Gravity!”

    Yeah. *sigh* Confession: Yeah, Ripley was awesome and it was great there’s Dr. Stone, but, hey, I like other movies, too, and I’m not always in the mood for something set in a spaceship (or outside a spaceship)

    Hello, hello, waiting for more work from Lake Bell…

  • I adore Ripley. And Dr Ryan Stone is so fucking awesome I can barely stand it.

    But they’re not enough. Nowhere near. Guys get guys like them in movies *every weekend.*

  • MamaMia

    More bipolarism..hmm… women are having it soooooooooo hard….

  • Explain yourself or get deleted.

  • Just to go along with the vitriol:

    * I’m tired of “but they were awesome women!” being an accepted excuse for 10:1 ratio of named men to women in films.

    Yes, it’s great that women can be as badass as we let men be in movies, but that doesn’t make up for how outnumbered they are in named characters in movies. If we can have schmucks and heroes as men, we need both schmucks and heroines as women.

  • Logic

    The point of protagonists is to sympathize with them. That’s not a gendered issue, it’s an issue of writing. If you don’t sympathize with a protagonist then the writer is bad at their job.

    So what you’re really saying is you have something against men.

  • Louie Cipher

    Wait… Sandra Bullock is in Gravity?

    Well so much for that movie. Why would you even consider Sandra Bullock in competition with Sigorney Weaver; they’re on totally different planets. Put bluntly, Sigorney is a man, and Bullock’s a pubescent teen with daddy’s mastercard.

  • Arthur

    You’re missing the point, perhaps deliberately. The lopsided ratio is a sign that Hollywood customarily does not value women as 3-D characters worthy of being protagonists. By your own standard, one might speculate that you have something against women being protagonists.

  • Arthur

    Perhaps you meant Ripley is an *adult* and Stone is not?

  • Matt Clayton

    I saw part of the Oscars, but missed the montages and such. Did they really not include any female characters doing anything noteworthy/heroic/iconic in that hero montage? That’s unacceptable. Maybe the Academy should get female producers for next year’s broadcast, and try to fix that. That’s just…

    *sigh*

  • Martha Kuhn

    I watched Perfume: The Story of a Murderer last night and just had to shake my head. The distilled essence of murdered women is a magical scent that makes people love the one wearing it? Seriously? Can you even imagine if this were flip-flopped — that a woman would be so obsessed with the scent of men that she would become a serial killer to try to capture and keep that scent? Good grief. Can’t believe Dustin Hoffman and Alan Rickman would associate themselves with the film.

  • “men in robot suits fighting men in robot suits”

    Hold up now! Which movie was this?

  • Holy shit, this is a weird thing to say.

  • I vote delete!

  • Lake Bell has a movie she wrote and directed called “In a World…”; it’s on Netflix and I’m looking forward to watching it… she plays an aspiring movie trailer voiceover artist?!

  • LaSargenta

    You mean the movie that actually brought her to wider (an my) attention that came out last year? I wrote the word more.

  • Danielm80

    From the Entertainment Weekly website, earlier today:

    Last night, Frozen snagged two Oscars: One for best original song for “Let It Go,” and the other for best animated feature. Oh, and it also crossed the $1 billion mark for worldwide box office.

    How many hours until someone in Hollywood says, “Movies about women don’t make money”?

  • Tonio Kruger

    But Veronica Mars! *

    *jk

  • bronxbee

    she isn’t putting SB and SW in “competition”… she’s giving evidence of the ratio of protagonist women to the dominence of male roles. read it again. and you obviously have some problem mixing up the “role” with “the woman”.

  • Liou

    Is the quality of the film not more important then the sex of the protagonist?
    I see a lot of films with female leads, maybe you shouldn’t limit yourself to mostly american films.
    And by the way, I loved La Grande Belezza.

  • Louie Cipher

    No, Sigorney has a long list of strong characters; not all of them kick-ass like Ripley, but all of them full grown adults.

    Bullock has a history of infantile characters. I don’t see her as grown up in any of them. Even in the closest thing to a driven individual as an accomplished business woman, her character instead goes and pulls a teenager stunt and fakes a relationship to avoid a consequence.

    No, these two actress’ can’t be seriously compared. Even when their characters could be comparable, Bullock will ruin it.

    Michelle Rodrigeuz however, she can stand toe to toe with Sigorney.

  • Lien

    I recommend getting replenished by (re-)watching the beautiful Studio Ghibli animation movies… all with girl heroines!

    – Spirited Away: Sen/Jihiro saves her parents
    – Howl’s Moving Castle: Sophie, young girl in an old lady’s body
    – Nausicaa: Princess Nausicaa saves the jungle, and the jungle saves her
    – Laputa – Castle in the sky: Sheeta (girl) and Pazu (boy) fight evil forces
    – My Neighbour Totoro: two little sisters Satsuki and Mei move to a new house that has a weird spirit as a neighbour

    – Ponyo: the girl-creature from the ocean that wants to be human
    – Princess Mononoke: male protagonist, but great duality between good and evil in the female characters of Princess Mononoke and Lynn
    – Kiki’s delivery service: a little witch tries to build her independent life.

    All movies about friendship, staying true to yourself, and pushing through.

  • Danielm80

    Imagine if 90% of the movies that came out in 2014 were about Jamaican guys with dreadlocks. Each week, you’d see a Jamaican detective in dreadlocks solving mysteries and a Jamaican teen in dreadlocks looking for love and a Jamaican superhero in dreadlocks fighting crime.

    Would you say, “These are all quality films! What is everyone complaining about?” Or would you start looking for stories with a little more diversity?

  • Bluejay

    How many hours until someone in Hollywood says, “Movies about women don’t make money”?

    And THAT is when we can use phrases like “But Frozen!,” “But Gravity!”, and “But Hunger Games!” to our advantage. :-)

  • So where are all the female protagonists?

  • How telling that you should chose the word “man” to describe a woman in what you think is a positive way? What’s up with that?

    I suggest you see *Gravity* before to determine the quality of Bullock’s performance in it.

  • Of course they’re in competition! There’s only room for one kickass female actor. Everyone knows that.

  • A TV character. Whose movie could only get made when fans paid for it in advance. And which is still getting only a small theatrical release.

    Meanwhile, we’re getting a comic book movie about a (male) superhero raccoon.

  • Is the quality of the film not more important then the sex of the protagonist?

    Who says it isn’t? And we get tons of quality films AND tons of shitty films dominated by male characters.

    I see a lot of films with female leads

    Please name 100 from 2013.

    maybe you shouldn’t limit yourself to mostly american films.

    I’m not. But thanks for playing.

  • I’ve seen lots of those movies. But I’d like to see lots of NEW movies about girls and women, too.

  • Er, Iron Man?

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Frozen was released in November. It’s now March, and it’s still playing in most of the first run theaters I got to. In Colorado.

    That movie has legs.

  • Oh, and another thing: I didn’t say I didn’t sympathize with them. I said I was tired of being asked to. I’m tired of the assumption that every single damn thing a man does is totally fascinating, when the same is not presumed of women. I’m tried of the assumption that it’s normal for women to sympathize with men but that men should never have to sympathize with women.

  • Tonio Kruger

    Welcome to the Rileys failed to get a wider release because it starred some obscure male actor from a rarely seen TV series called The Sopranos plus an even more obscure actress who was mostly noted for her starring role in the notoriously unpopular Twilight movies. If only they had hired someone truly famous instead…

  • Tonio Kruger

    Even Lake Bell can’t do it all, alas.

  • Rod Ribeiro

    Men who struggle to overcome limitations/disabilities (The King’s Speech, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly)

    Men who bond with men who struggle to overcome limitations/disabilities (Untouchables) (or women – Children of a Lesser God, which is pretty much about Mr. Leeds, and told from his POV, although it did get Marlee Matlin an Oscar)

    Men tired of struggling to overcome limitations/disabilities (The Sea Inside)

  • Scrufflecat

    “So where are all the female protagonists?”
    It’s a shame that films like Frozen, Alien, The Hunger games, and Gravity don’t make much money, don’t get popular, and don’twin awards. Oh wait.

  • Danielm80

    You’re being sarcastic–at least, I hope you are–but movie producers seem to take that idea seriously. Only about 30% of movies feature women in starring roles, or even give them speaking parts of any significance.

    You’d think that the films you mentioned would change people’s minds, since they’ve been hugely successful. But the situation hasn’t improved much over the past several decades. I’m hoping that movies like Frozen will make things better. After all, there have been a number of very popular films about women in the past few years alone. But the statistics don’t give me much reason to be optimistic.

    Here are the statistics, by the way, in case you’re interested:

  • Danielm80
  • Louie Cipher

    I chose the word “man” because it comes with a number of connotations; if women can’t get past that reality, than you will never see another strong female lead again. Sigorney is in my mind, the origin tough as nails woman who can stand shoulder to shoulder with her male counterparts. Frankly, she set the bar high for all the other women who dared to follow.

    The fact that you see virtually none, is a testament to the disinclination of women to follow that path; I can count only a handful of women who dare to tread in her footsteps. I’ve already mentioned one; then there’s Angelina Jolie, Milla Jovavich, and not much else. You can see it in them when they get into kick-ass mode, they’re gonna take names.

    I will not be paying money to watch Gravity; Bullock ruins it for me, she carries the air of, “it’s not my fault”, which grates on me. Even the first movie I saw her in, Speed, no, no, no. If she is a contender for “strong female leads”, then I’m gonna have to cry in my beer until another generation powerful women (not infantile girls) fills the wide gaping chasm separating “strong gendered” characters.

    Using the word “man” to describe Sigorney, is not derogatory. It’s a statement of the impact she made on my opinion of what women could become, if they dared. Do you care to dare?

  • Scrufflecat

    “Only about 30% of movies feature women in starring roles, or even give them speaking parts of any significance.”

    If that’s true, that’s because that’s what audiences buy. If there was a great untapped market for female action hero protagonists, it wouldn’t stay untapped for long. If you think there is such a market, take it to a studio exec, or better yet, produce your own film.

  • Leilani

    Not to mention movies with REAL women in them. I’m not against animation, but why do all of our female leads have to come in that form?

  • Bluejay

    If a man is smart, competent, kick-ass, and tough as nails, maybe I should call him a “woman,” because then he’s similar to Sigourney Weaver, whom I really admire. Using the word “woman” to describe a man who is like Sigourney is not derogatory. It’s a statement of the impact he made on my opinion of what men could become, if they dared.

    Or maybe being tough and kick-ass (or tender or compassionate or brave or timid or powerful or weak or mature or infantile or whatever) are gender-neutral qualities, and it’s ridiculous to call women “men” or men “women” if they have those qualities.

  • Danielm80

    So your argument is that Frozen, Alien, The Hunger Games, and Gravity make lots of money, are hugely popular, and win awards, but there’s no market for them?

    Personally, I think there’s an enormous market for movies about women, but it’s untapped because producers keep believing the conventional wisdom that “no one wants to see films about girls.”

  • cinderkeys

    “The fact that you see virtually none, is a testament to the disinclination of women to follow that path …”

    So all this time, Hollywood has been offering these awesome female lead roles in great abundance, and actresses haven’t been taking them up on it?

  • crowTrobot

    I appreciate the sentiment but Hollywood didn’t make this film and the male centric worldview is certainly not a Hollywood exclusive.

  • Matt Clayton

    Those movies are the exception, not the rule. That’s the excuse major studio execs (who, except for one, are all male) use when being presented this argument. The only thing that they got was trying the YA book adaptations when Twilight and The Hunger Games hit it big, to mostly box-office duds.

    Like MaryAnn said, if the frequency of female-driven movies were equal to that of men, it’d be a whole different story.

  • Hollywood didn’t make which film? Who said the male centric worldview is a Hollywood exclusive?

    What are you trying to say?

  • Women could become men if they “dared”?

    And you think this isn’t derogatory?

  • Don’t you know? It’s *always* women’s fault, because we don’t dare to be men.

  • It has legs because it is feeding an audience that is starved for movies like it.

    But Hollywood will find a way to miss the reason for its popularity.

  • crowTrobot

    The film central to your article is an Italian made film that would never get made by Hollywood.

  • Liou

    I’m not going to do the 100 from 2013, I have a life, but I did check my recent downloads and came up with the following for you in a few minutes (they’re not all good films, and maybe I made a mistake somewhere if I didn’t remember correctly):
    Black moon
    Like Crazy
    Penelope
    Totally true love
    children who chase lost voices from deep below
    broken
    la collectionneuse
    Mai Mai Miracle
    Sound of my voice
    Stories we tell
    The East
    The Awakening
    Another Earth
    Un heureuse evenement
    Beasts of the southern wild
    Cracks
    La source des femmes
    Les aventures extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-sec
    And so on, and don’t forget most of the Miyazaki films or series like homeland, borgen, top of the lake, girls, new girl,…

  • RogerBW

    I’m going to be even more nitpicky, and say I want to see films about women that aren’t just about their woman-ness. Not just rom-coms infertility and Not Without My Baby. Films where people do stuff, and some of those people happen to be women.

  • Sure, if you’re going to reach across many years, you will find a few movies with female protagonists. I asked you to name 100 from 2013, because you can’t. Yet it would be easy to rattle off 250 with male protagonists.

    The list you provide does not constitute “lots” in the grand scheme of things.

  • *The Great Beauty* is not central to my article. It’s merely the latest in a very long line of movies that prompted my rant.

    No, it would never get made by Hollywood. Which just goes to show that no matter where you look, all the damn movies are about men. *That’s* what I’m sick of.

  • It’s easier to make cartoon women look like Barbie dolls?

  • 37 Pieces Of Ric Flair

    IF ONLY YOU CARED ENOUGH TO DARE, FF!

  • 37 Pieces Of Ric Flair

    Preach it. The fact that Kangaroo Jack is a movie that exists, yet Wonder Woman is not, and no Tom Robbins books have been made into films since that Uma Thurman one in the 80s tells me all I need to know about Hollywood’s penchant for giving the male POV waaaaay too much entertainment cred.

  • RogerBW

    Maybe The Great Beauty wouldn’t get made in Hollywood, but plenty of films about bored middle-aged writers who sleep with pretty young women do get made. They may be less cinematically lush, but is that really an important difference?

  • LaSargenta

    Hey, how’s about the fact that Slap Shot, that paean to Old Fashioned Hockey, had two better-developed female characters than most films I see now? Funnily enough, that movie that is so famous for being all about testosterone was written by a woman and has great multi-layered characters, both male and female. Uh, it’s from 1977. Kinda pathetic.

  • Elaine LaFela

    But then again, who gives a FUCK about women? As long as the movie is good gender don’t matter.

  • Please tell me you are being sarcastic. Otherwise, you’re getting deleted.

  • Louie Cipher

    Thus, equality is a pipe dream.

  • Why?

  • Louie Cipher

    Men, by necessity, have set the stage, and the bench is high. To compete, women have to compete on existing terms. Those who do, and there are those who do, earn the respect engendered, but at a cost; the cost of family life. Women who take up the banner of career orientated, put gender aside and focus on the issues at hand; no amount of gender quotas or harassment cases will change this standard; you have to become. What isn’t said enough, is that while many men achieve high status, many more men fail to, for a number of reasons. It’s not in women’s best interest to try to compete in this gamble.

    This translates onto the screen. Women drive the economy (because they have their purse, and their husband’s wallet); women want to see certain stereotypes in female characters; strong is not one of them, emotional is. Thus you get a sewage overflow of Bullock’s and Aniston’s who play into the part of “it’s everyone else’ fault, not mine”. Which plays into current society where women thanks to feminism, have become infantilized.

    Yes there are women who can claim independence, but not on the level men have to. Men have no backdrops, no safety nets, no sympathy; only “man up”. So when I say “Sigorney is the man”, that is not derogatory, that is the height of my respect for a member of the opposite gender. She does not need to do the particular roles she does, she’s a good actor, and she’s a woman, she can do any female role; but instead she plays strong determined no-excuse roles. Point of fact, Ripley was supposed to be a man, Sigorney got the part as a last minute change of mind, and she DID IT!

    If it weren’t for age, she would have made a much more believable Aeon Flux; but instead it went to that southern belle, who while beautiful acting in Devil’s Advocate, and A Time to Kill, and similar roles, she utterly failed as Aeon Flux, she can not present the aggressiveness Flux has. Milla or Michelle should have got the part.

    Women drive the silver screen economy. Thus we get the disappointing tv shows of women in command of the family belittling their husbands etc. Men don’t watch daytime tv; they work, watch the news, and watch sports. Women don’t watch sports on the same scale, otherwise there would be a Women’s Sports Network channel by now; instead there’s umpteen channels of “reality” tv and the Home and Garden Extreme Make-over.

    If equality means, bringing household chores onto the tv, to compete with the likes of Mike Rowe’s Dirty Jobs. There’s no competition; men create and maintain civilization, born on blood sweat and lives; thankless invisible jobs all around you that are necessary to your day to day existence. And you’re tired of being asked to sympathize with male characters. Well, we’re on opposite sides of the same boat.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Do you know what a “just-so story” is? Cause you’re telling several of them here.

  • Danielm80

    I feel like I’m reading dispatches from an alternate universe where Don Draper ran the Nike campaign, and their slogan was, “You have to become.”

  • Bluejay

    I’m becoming aware
    That I’m staring
    I’m like a rabbit suddenly trapped
    In the blinding headlights
    Of vacuous crap.
    –Tim Minchin

  • Your deep and abiding contempt for women is noted.

    You might want to look into feminism. It wants to smash the patriarchy that hurts and constricts men, too.

  • cautia

    Bravo!

  • cautia

    Is the quality not more important than the sex of the protagonist? If only, if only. That’s kinda the point???
    As for your implication that there isn’t a problem in the first place, all I have to say is, nice try.

  • Louie Cipher

    So they say. However, everything feminism does constricts men into a tighter gender role, while removing ever more responsibilities from women. Patriarchy is their boogyman to keep up the guise of legitimacy; it’s fictional. Feminism isn’t a saintly messiah come to save us from our sins; it’s a bankrupt ideology based on a lie.

    Admitting that women have agency, is the first step to sobriety. Do you have agency? As a grown adult, I should hope so. I’m gonna tell you a little secret. Feminism didn’t do anything to get you to where you are today, they had no hand in it; you got there on your own, barring accepting a gender quota opening, which I trust you didn’t have to do.

    Once you accept that you owe nothing to feminism, you’ll begin to see it for the fraudulent religion that it is. They didn’t even come up with battered women’s shelters, they stole it from a woman who wasn’t a feminist, she was a house wife. Men didn’t come up with the tender years doctrine, which gave women automatic custody of children, feminists did that; before it was what was the best interest of the child, ie which parent could afford the child, or some equitable deal therein. Once women got the children, they needed to afford them, ergo, the introduction of alimony and child support.

    Feminism is not a friend of men; it is traditionalism on crack.

  • My god. I do not recognize the planet you live on.

  • Louie Cipher

    Congrats.

    Now go read Elizabeth Sheehy’s book Defending Battered Women on Trial.

    Whatever feminism you subscribe to, is powerless, or apathetic, and enables the “real” feminists, who have power, to use it destructively.

    Meh, your title says it all.

  • Ah, so it’s good? I’ll move it higher up on my list.

  • Holy shit! This guy is a genius. I really feel like he’s tapped into the zeitgeist of this website. Bravo!

  • My favorite part about this guy is how is name is like the devil’s name! So clever!

    Hey Louie do you have a newsletter or weblog I could subscribe to? I gotta have these insights of yours fed to me daily.

  • Ah… hmm… not as exciting as I pictured. Not terrible though. I was hoping there was a cool robot movie I missed.

  • Rebecca Dalmas

    Do you have a running list of great female-protaganist movies? That could be cool.

  • I’ve been wanting to start a listing of feminist movies, but there’s just no time.

  • You could read my review. :->

  • Rebecca Dalmas

    No matter, you still promote them. I enjoyed Frances Ha, for instance.

  • Of course, if you did get a great female protagonist, she would still be portrayed through a very male gaze…

    http://the-toast.net/2013/11/15/empowered-female-heroine/

  • Louie Cipher

    Visit AVFM. You might find some of my work in there, buried under tons of excellent articles.

    http://www.avoiceformen.com/

  • I knew it.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Heh, well, thank you, Louie, for letting us know exactly what kind of terrified little boy you are underneath that pseudo-intellectual exterior. It’s nice to know when someone’s brain droppings are best ignored, or most, mopped up before they stink up the place.

  • Louie Cipher

    Yes, and the best refutation from a guy calling himself “Dr. Rocketscience” is a nearly clever almost indirect insult to one’s intelligence.

    It appears I have one view left on this rag before my lack of funding asswipe prevents me from continuing this argument. So how about I just hand over the “victory” to you and Ms tired on the basis of last word. Sounds fair to me.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Aw, look, he thinks he’s relevant. And that I want to have an argument. They’re so cute when they’re little.

    Yes, run along Louie. You’ve had your fun, but it’s high time for the grown-ups to talk now.

  • Hmmm… I guess my RSS feed Fu is not as good as I suspected. I shall read it at once.

  • Tonio Kruger

    Actually, the title role in the movie version of Aeon Flux was played by South African actress Charlize Theron, not Ashley Judd. And you seem to talk as if TV shows like Married, with Children and 24 never happen. And as if the majority of movies and TV shows in this country are not created by men.

  • Tonio Kruger

    Wonderdome: two women enter, one woman leaves..

  • Clint Carpentier

    Created by, and created for, are two different animals. Point of fact, women have a lower creative inclination than men, but a higher buying inclination. Advertisers know this, they aren’t stupid. Just look at the difference between commercials for pick-up trucks and SUV’s; men buy pick-ups, and women want SUV’s; are there even commercials for Lamborghini’s and Ferrari’s?

    If men dictated the tv programs, there’d be five channels; 2 for sports, 1 for news, 1 for knowledge, and 1 for comedy. 57 channels and nothin’s on.

  • Bluejay

    And I see that “Louie Cipher” is now “Clint Carpentier,” with a manly goatee and solemn profile as he drives off into the sunset, stoically bearing civilization on his masculine shoulders.

  • Bluejay

    …And he apparently is on record as being in favor of marital rape. So, yeah, nothing productive can come of engaging with this guy.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Louie, we talked about this. The grownups are talking now. Run along and play with your friends.

  • Point of fact, women have a lower creative inclination than men

    Your misogyny has become tiresome. Please go away.

  • Holy shit.

    Please ignore this creep.

  • Clint Carpentier

    Keep using that word, eventually it will have meaning again.

  • Danielm80

    And I thought the MR in MRA stood for men’s rights.

  • bronxbee

    i can’t even….

  • You’re not going to get the “debate” you want here, and you’re not going to get any sympathy. You’re wasting your time.

  • LaSargenta

    There’s rape and then there’s sex. Sex is active consent by those taking part in it. Rape, well, is not. There really isn’t a special thing called marital rape. There is, though, an idea that there’s a difference, usually due to someone feeling they are entitled to whatever they want whenever they want just because of the marriage ceremony.

  • 37 Pieces Of Ric Flair

    See, I knew it stood for Marital Rape. I don’t know how, but I knew.

  • 37 Pieces Of Ric Flair

    ^—What he says to women who say “No” to sex.

  • Clint Carpentier

    I know that; it’s in your title, lest you forgot.

  • Olly

    Bless this post, Mary. Bless it.

  • Really, stop engaging this guy.

  • 37 Pieces Of Ric Flair

    My apologies, I shall refrain.

  • No worries!

  • Michael

    I find nothing to agree with in this article. You have been exhausted by the idea of sympathy for men but is it not possible just to have sympathy for the character regardless of sex? I can assure you that I am no misogynist but I do not take kindly to feminist bullshit.

    Hermione most likely wasn’t featured in the montage because she’s not the main fucking character. I feel like you are asking screenwriters to rewrite their scripts with female protagonists just to empower the women of the world that feel like they are being ignored. You asked someone to list 100 movies with female protagonists from 2013. Do you expect someone to view 100 films from last year so quickly? I will tell you that some of my favorite films from last year featured positive female leads:
    Her, Gravity, Short Term 12, Frances Ha, Lore, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Enough Said, August: Osage County, You’re Next, Catching Fire, The Conjuring. Need I keep listing excellent films?

  • Bluejay

    Michael, I would say that MaryAnn’s problem is with the numbers. Of course there are great films with male protagonists and great films with female protagonists, just as there are shitty films with male protagonists and shitty films with female protagonists. The problem is that there are just SO MANY MORE films about men, period. I would recommend reading Danielm80’s comment with links to the relevant stats. I’d also recommend checking out the numbers-crunching here. The salient points:

    “Some 1,229 directors, writers and producers worked on the top 100 films of 2012. Only 16.7 percent of them were women. More specifically, women accounted for 4.1 percent of directors, 12.2 percent of writers and 20 percent of producers. That means men outnumbered women 5-to-1 in the most significant behind-the-camera roles.”

    “The Academy Awards may split its acting prizes evenly between men and women, but the movie industry certainly does not apportion roles that way. Women obtained a mere 28.4 percent of speaking parts in the 100 top films of 2012. And only six percent of those films cast men and women in roughly equal numbers (defined as between 45 percent and 54.9 percent of speaking parts).”

    And of course while these stats are for 2012, they’ve roughly been the same across many, many years. If these numbers were reversed, wouldn’t you think men were being unfairly ignored? If men only made up 4% of directors and 12% of writers in Hollywood, wouldn’t you feel that men weren’t being given a fair chance to tell their stories? If men only had 28.4% of speaking parts in the top 100 films of the year, wouldn’t you feel that we weren’t getting to see the full, rich variety of male experience onscreen?

    I feel like you are asking screenwriters to rewrite their scripts with female protagonists just to empower the women of the world that feel like they are being ignored.

    Write more stories to represent 50 percent of the world’s population? That sounds like a good idea to me. What’s your problem with it?

    I will tell you that some of my favorite films from last year featured positive female leads

    Good for you, but the issue isn’t about what YOUR favorite films are; again, it’s about the numbers. I could say that my favorite rap songs from last year were by female artists, but that doesn’t change the fact that the hip-hop world is overwhelmingly male.

  • is it not possible just to have sympathy for the character regardless of sex?

    Could you let Hollywood know that men are able have sympathy for a character regardless of her gender? Cool, thanks.

    I can assure you that I am no misogynist but I do not take kindly to feminist bullshit.

    And I can assure you that your privilege blinders are on particularly tight. Might want to loosen them a little.

  • bronxbee

    yes, you do. until you reach 100… WTF? does anyone ever get to call masculinist bullshit without insults, and overbearing abuse?

  • RogerBW

    Apparently some people think “women constantly going in fear of attack” is a really neat idea, and want to preserve it.

  • sarah

    Honestly even though I am a woman I don’t really agree with this article in its entirety. I would love to have more movies that presented the female point of view, especially in regards to sexuality, but I don’t have any problem sympathizing with many male characters. I would take having more GOOD movies and good characters who are actually interesting, whether male or female, over anything else. I love male characters. I wish I could love female characters as much, I wish there were more of them to love, but as long as I get characters to love, I’m not really going to complain.

  • AAN

    It seems that you have nothing more than an axe to grind about an issue that will always exist, however hard you want it not to. The sad reality is, true equality is hard to achieve, and there is always one or the other that takes the lead, and certainly so if you stack them up with numbers. My advice is to just stop worrying about it. Women have made great strides in society, show business, and the world in general when hardly a century ago, people laughed at the idea of a woman even being taken seriously. Now, for all intents and purposes, you are able to do as you will.

    I’m sorry you seem to be so against the idea of sympathizing with something because you do not share the same genitalia. When I watch something, all I worry about is the person, and whether or not they are worth the time to be interested in. You’re setting yourself an imaginary divide. Not to mention, I doubt anyone is going to sit and stack up 100 movies that simply have a woman in the lead, as you’re relying on a numbers quota rather than knowing they exist and being satisfied. I don’t mean to come off as berating, yet it is simply tiring to see how far some have come only to still be hung up over what’s essentially a minor detail. Women get roles, women get oscars, they get a great many things. It’s 2014, it’s time to put the pitchfork and torch down as the far is over. The irony is, things like this are kept alive because people like you yearn to find a problem, and you always will if you look hard enough.

    Would you really feel so much better if the scales tipped to have a massive amount of FEMALE protagonists instead? All that would do is create the same bias, yet I have a feeling you wouldn’t care as then you have your preferred world.

    Please, there are far worse ways you could have it in the world. Perhaps you ought to either travel back in time, or travel to a third world and be the wife of a sheik to truly appreciate you have no reason to complain. This first world feminist business is really old.

  • AAN

    War* not far. Typo.

  • Danielm80

    To quote Toby Ziegler, “Half full, half empty? Can we at least agree it’s not full yet?”

  • And why do you think that “women have made great strides”? It’s because women had axes to grind, and they ground them!

    Would you really feel so much better if the scales tipped to have a massive amount of FEMALE protagonists instead?

    No, I would not. And you will have to come up with some evidence to suggest that I want this. Go on, look for it. I’ll wait.

    Please, there are far worse ways you could have it in the world.

    Nope. You don’t get to say this. Unless you also want to say that no more minor crimes should be investigated and prosecuted as long as there are still murderers on the loose. Or that no one should be seeking cures for minor illnesses and ailments until someone cures cancer.

    You do not get to tell me which battles I’m entitled to fight, and which I am not.

  • AAN

    You strike me as the kind of person that would recieve a new car and complain that it’s red instead of blue.

    The point I was trying to make is that you are a poster example of never satisfied. You get, you fight, you get your rewards, but it’s never good enough. At the end of the day, if your biggest bug up your butt is something in FANTASY, most of which by the way, has many women and men that have a hand in it all, then I think the world will survive. And frankly my dear, I’m able to get to ‘say’ whatever I please. I tried to at least be civil, but it feels like as usual, a keyboard, a blog, and and a banner with a vagina on it gives you some sort of satisfactiion. Do something that doesnt raise your blood pressure, I have better things to do.

  • Tonio Kruger

    MaryAnn has a banner with a vagina on it? That’s news to me. ;)

    But seriously, folks..

    AAN seems awfully angry for someone whose chief complaint appears to be an online critic’s failure to agree with him or her. Given the number of people I know who have worse problems, I can’t help but find that ironic.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    That typo is the least of your problems with the language.

  • Bluejay

    You get, you fight, you get your rewards, but it’s never good enough.

    Because it’s NOT good enough. It won’t be good enough until there’s fair representation, which there still isn’t.

    What exactly are you afraid of? What’s so bad about having as many women in lead movie roles as men? What do you think you’re going to lose?

    I have better things to do.

    Apparently, you don’t. You keep saying the world has worse problems — which is true — so why are you spending your presumably precious time arguing with a movie critic on a movie review site? Go solve poverty or fight human sex trafficking, and let us film lovers discuss film issues amongst ourselves.

  • Bluejay

    MaryAnn has a banner with a vagina on it? That’s news to me.

    Yeah, what’s up with that? I must be using the wrong browser.

  • Robert P

    I’m not a huge movie buff – I’m sure there are many more but a few with strong female protagonists that come to mind:

    – GI Jane

    – Avatar

    – Terminator – Sarah Connor anyone?
    – Star Wars

    – The Color Purple
    – A League Of Their Own

    – Untraceable (I thought it sucked but….)
    – Robin Hood (1991) Maid Marian was no fragile damsel
    – Erin Brockovich
    – Silkwood
    – Coal Miner’s Daughter
    – Final Fantasy – I know you hated it but the central character was a strong, independent, brilliant female

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Well done, you’ve named 11 movies in the last 40 years. What percentage of films would you say that represents? Now, bear in mind that women represent roughly 51% of the population. How impressed are you with your list?

  • You strike me as the kind of person that would recieve a new car and complain that it’s red instead of blue.

    Ah, you believe that movies and pop culture are a gift, and I should be grateful for whatever I get.

    Fuck that shit.

    you get your rewards

    I got my rewards? I got *rewards*? Holy crap, do you think that men “rewarded” women with a measure of dignity and human respect out of beneficence? No. Women fought for it, and the fight is far from over. And it’s thinking like yours that is precisely why we need to keep fighting.

  • You’re joking, right?

    I could name more movies than that with male protagonists that have opened in the past two weeks.

  • Yes… of course! We should travel back in time! Why didn’t any one else think of this???

    Would you really feel so much better if the scales tipped to have a massive amount of FEMALE protagonists instead?

    Yes, that would be a nice change.

  • You strike me as the kind of person that would recieve (sic) a new car and complain that it’s red instead of blue.

    And you strike me as the kind of person who would strike a woman across the face if she told you to go to hell, you fucking bully.

  • Robert P

    You’re joking, right?

    So these two movie critics walk into a bar…..

    *Now* I’m joking.

    As I say this is a quickie list that I came up with off the top of my head as a non-movie buff. The point being while there might not be equity the list is a lot longer than Alien.

    Dr. Rocketscience – it’s more accurate to reflect on what percentage of the films I’ve personally seen -and- happen to bubble up from my memory this represents. I’ve seen a fraction of a fraction of films that have been made. My list isn’t even exhaustive of films with a strong, central female character that I’ve personally seen.

    I’ll add a few more to my unsatisfactory list:

    – The Sound Of Music
    – Mary Poppins
    – The Wizard Of Oz
    – Gone With The Wind
    – Kill Bill
    – The Silence Of The Lambs
    – The Hunger Games

    – Dying Young
    – Fried Green Tomatoes
    – Stepmom
    – A foreign film from the 80’s or 90’s I can’t remember the title of where the central character struggled to get her children out of a war-torn area. She was killed by revolutionaries, her children survived. The last words she triumphantly shouted just before she was executed were “My children!” Anyone know the film I’m talking about?

    MAJ – out of curiosity, of the film scripts you’ve written (if you’ve done more than the one I read) what percentage featured a strong central female protagonist?

    If there is a gap, do you blame the filmmakers or the audience they anticipate will or won’t go to see a particular film?

  • Bluejay

    If there is a gap, do you blame the filmmakers or the audience they anticipate will or won’t go to see a particular film?

    Whether a film has an “audience” is irrelevant to this argument. We all agree, I think, that people will see a film if it’s a good story, regardless of whether the protagonist is male or female. The converse is also true: a movie can flop whether the lead is male or female, and there is a long, long list of male-led movies that bombed.

    Since that’s the case, then there’s absolutely no reason NOT to cast more women as leads to address the gender imbalance. Filmmakers and fans who try to defend the status quo by saying “gender is irrelevant to a film’s success or failure” are actually arguing against themselves. If gender is irrelevant to quality or success, then there’s no reason NOT to change the status quo to achieve fairer representation. The answer to “Why should a woman be the central character of this film” and “Why should there be more women in the cast of this film” is: “Why not?”

    I’ll add a few more to my unsatisfactory list

    I’m sure you can, but it doesn’t matter how many films YOU’VE personally seen. Statistically, female-led films are a drop in the bucket compared to male-led films, no matter how many good ones or famous ones you list.

    Also, you say you’re not a movie buff; MaryAnn watches movies for a living, and she’s seen many thousands more than you. I’m inclined to think she has a better big-picture view of whether or not there’s a dearth of female protagonists in film.

  • Bluejay

    The last words she triumphantly shouted just before she was executed were “My children!” Anyone know the film I’m talking about?

    I think you’re talking about Eleni. Good film, from what I remember.

  • Danielm80

    2013 was a pretty good year for movies about women. The highest-grossing film was The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Frozen and Gravity were also in the top ten, and they both won Oscars, so it’s obvious that people are willing to see a movie with a female lead, if it’s got the right stars or the right story.

    Here’s a list of the top-grossing films of 2013:

    http://boxofficemojo.com/yearly/chart/?yr=2013&p=.htm

    You might notice that seven of the top ten films do not star a woman. If you keep reading the list, you’ll see that the next ten films also don’t have female leads, or the ten after that. You have to scroll down into the forties before you find a woman who isn’t in a supporting role.

    If you have the time, go through the lists of top-grossing films. See if you can find a year in which 70% of the movies did not have a man in the leading role. Was it in your lifetime?

    People like to say that movies about women are never successful. I have two responses:

    (1.) How do you know if no one ever makes any?

    (2.) Divergent (2014): $146,775,000

  • it’s more accurate to reflect on what percentage of the films I’ve personally seen -and- happen to bubble up from my memory this represents.

    As I’m sure you don’t need to be reminded, this isn’t about *your perception* of movies.

    out of curiosity, of the film scripts you’ve written (if you’ve done more than the one I read) what percentage featured a strong central female protagonist?

    50 percent.

    If there is a gap,

    “If”? So you don’t know that there is?

  • Robert P

    As I’m sure you don’t need to be reminded, this isn’t about *your perception* of movies.

    I regard it as more a question of quantifiable numbers not perception.

    Seriously the more I think about it the less of a gap I see.

    – Klute
    – Besides SOTL every Jodie Foster movie I can think of including a superb one she did as a kid – The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane – characters don’t come any more independent & resourceful.
    – Driving Miss Daisy
    – Looking For Mr. Goodbar

    – Bonnie And Clyde
    – Superman – yeah Lois Lane gets rescued but so does everyone else – no denying Lois was smart and tough – and sometimes too obstinate for her own good.
    – The Wizard of Oz – already mentioned but it had *2* superb central female characters, not even including Glinda The Good Witch
    – Mommie Dearest – I’d happily relieve myself on Joan Crawford’s grave but no denying it was a powerful film.
    – All of Mollie Ringwald’s films
    – Girl Interrupted
    – The professional – young Natalie Portman jumped off the screen.
    – Go down the list of Natalie Portman films – The Other Boleyn Girl, Black Swan, Goya’s Ghosts, Where The Heart Is, etc.
    – Thelma And Louise
    – Irma La Douce
    -The Witches Of Eastwick
    -Dangerous Liaisons

    -Fatal Attraction
    -Mask

    -White Oleander

    Lots and lots more….

    I dunno. I just don’t see a glaring dearth of interesting central female characters in film.

  • Robert P

    People like to say that movies about women are never successful.

    Only if they’re utterly oblivious to the long list of such movies.

  • Robert P

    I think you’re talking about Eleni.

    That’s it – thanks. I knew it began with an E. I’ll have to watch it again.

  • Bluejay

    If you’re committed to listing every female-led movie you can think of, then to be fair to your own argument you should also list every male-led movie you can think of and see how the numbers pan out.

  • Robert P

    That’s just it, MAJ watches a statistically unusual number of films – way off in the skinny part of the Bell curve. She sees a lot of films that most people who haven’t devoted their lives to watching movies will never see.

    There may not be as many movies with female central characters but there isn’t anything like a dearth. One could spend a very long time – I would surmise the rest of their life – watching nothing but female-centric films, given more typical time devoted to movie watching.

  • Bluejay

    If you want to limit the discussion to the films that “most people” are seeing, that means the top-grossing films, from year to year. In that case, I’ll just refer you back to Danielm80’s argument.

  • Danielm80

    If you’re actively looking for movies about women, you can find them. If you just go out to see a popular film at the movie theatre, there probably won’t be a lot of women in major roles. Statistics vary slightly, but this article

    http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/03/11/only-15-percent-of-top-films-in-2013-put-women-in-lead-roles-study-finds/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

    says:

    Women accounted for less than a third of all speaking roles in the year’s 100 top-grossing domestic films. And just 15 percent of those films had women in leading roles.

  • Once again, I could name more movies with male protagonists that have opened in the only the past few weeks. You are reaching across the entire history of cinema to find a handful of films.

    And not even all the movies you named have female protagonists! (Lois Lane is NOT the protagonist of *Superman.* Glenn Close is the *villain* in *Fatal Attraction.*)

    If you don’t see a dearth of female protagonists, you are not looking.

  • She sees a lot of films

    I don’t think you understand that this is not something that bolsters your point.

    Yes, I see a lot more films. And the vast damn majority of them *are about men.*

    there isn’t anything like a dearth.

    You are, just simply and based on the numbers you claim you are all about, wrong.

  • Vern Ballard

    Somehow through Facebook (I think?) I stumbled upon this thread yesterday. Today a friend of mine (and kindred spirit of Maryann) linked a tangentially related piece she’s just had published in the Atlantic.

    http://tinyurl.com/nn3nzlj

    Alas, she too is vilified in the comment-sphere.

  • bronxbee

    hey vern!

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    You’re up to a generous 40 now. Since 1980 boxofficemojo has data on just over 12000 movies. So, even accepting all of your titles, including the ones older than 1980 and the ones that don’t count as having female protagonists*, you’re up to 0.3%. Obviously yours isn’t an exhaustive list, but do you really think you’ll get yourself up to, say, 20%? 30%?

    This is a losing argument, dude. The nicest thing I can say about you for sticking with it is that you’re willfully blind and ignorant.

    *Superman? Seriously? Are you just fucking trolling?

  • Bluejay

    Great article. And this is the best comment in response to it so far. What she says (and what the commenter says) can easily apply to film as well.

    I also saw her piece on Scalzi’s blog. I think I’ll check her book out.

  • Robert P

    And not even all the movies you named have female protagonists! (Lois
    Lane is NOT the protagonist of *Superman.* Glenn Close is the *villain*
    in *Fatal Attraction.*)

    Well, the majority I’ve listed have a female protagonist. I included a few with a strong, central female character who’s crucial to the story, which seemed worth including.

    You are reaching across the entire history of cinema to find a handful of films.

    Now *I* get to say “are you kidding?” Surely you know that the titles I’ve mentioned isn’t a remotely comprehensive list – doesn’t even scratch the surface of even just mainstream US films that fit the “female protagonist” criteria. Then there’s the whole universe of indies and non-US titles.

    If you don’t see a dearth of female protagonists, you are not looking.

    See that’s the thing, I think your objectivity is a bit muddied by your circumstances – i.e. that you live & breathe movies.

    Realistically, how many films is the typical viewer – you’re far from the typical viewer – likely to see in a year, or in a lifetime? I’ll take your word for it that more movies are made with male protagonists. Okay. Whether it’s 200 a year more or 2,000 a year more it just means a bigger pile of films most people aren’t going to see anyway. There have been enough films made with females at the center to last most people far more than a lifetime of movie-watching even if they limited themselves to only female-centric films. If someone’s daughter is one day suddenly imbued with feminist ire and demands “I want to see some movies with female stars!” – there’s a big, big pile of ’em she can see.

    If the real essence of your gripe is that film output will influence females being undervalued, I wonder if you’re being overly concerned with something that isn’t really as influential as you see it being.

  • Danielm80

    You’re going really far out of your way not to get the point.

    If you’re in a movie theatre, and you decide to see one of the most popular films that’s playing that week, chances are the film won’t star a woman. If there’s a woman in the movie at all, she’s probably going to be the hero’s girlfriend, and she’ll probably have only a handful of lines.

    Now, if you’re the sort of person who really wants to watch a movie about a female character, you can look for a theatre that’s showing an independent film, or you can stay home and watch The Wizard of Oz. But most people aren’t going to make that effort. For one thing, most people have already seen The Wizard of Oz because, like nearly all of the films on your list, it came out years and years ago.

    All of this means that the average moviegoer won’t see many women onscreen. I don’t just mean that they won’t see a woman saving the world from a nuclear bomb. I mean that they won’t see ordinary women working in an office, or in a science lab or a police station. They won’t even see a lot of women in a crowd scene. (If I remember correctly, only 17% of extras are women.)

    In the real world, in a real workplace, most of the employees probably are men, and they probably get paid more than the women. (91% of film directors are male, for example, and there’s a 5:1 ratio of men to women working in the film industry.) A few movies won’t change that, but they might make the situation seem slightly abnormal, and they might make people wonder if things ought to be different. And that’s never going to happen if people keep saying, “You’re making too big a deal out of this.”

  • I included a few with a strong, central female character who’s crucial to the story, which seemed worth including.

    Then you are really misunderstanding the problem. Women who exist in a story only to support the male protagonist, only to motivate him, describes most women in most women’s. Women deserve to see stories *about* women, in which they get to grown and change the way that men in stories are allowed to do. (Even the dumbest action movie is *about* a man who goes on a journey — usually physical, sometimes also personal — and changes in some way over the course of the plot.) Women do NOT exist MERELY to support men, which is the conclusion most movies would lead you to.

    Stories about women should NOT be something that anyone should have to make a special task of seeking out. Women are not niche. If the average movie watcher sees maybe 100 films a year — a few in multiplexes and the rest on DVD at home — the vast vast vast vast majority of mainstream movies they will have easy access to will have male protagonists!

    You think you are defending your position, but you’re only making it worse.

  • Robert P

    Women do NOT exist MERELY to support men, which is the conclusion most movies would lead you to.

    Who do you see “Fatal Attraction” as being primarily about – Alex or Dan?

  • RogerBW

    You seem to be missing a basic point of logic here.

    If I say “most cars are red”, and you reply “that car over there is black”, that is not an argument against my thesis.

  • LaSargenta

    Alex is not given any sympathy. The audience is intended to identify with Dan. She is the canvas that Dan’s cheating, remorse, and fear is drawn on. End of story.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Not only is “Fatal Attraction” not about Alex, she hardly even qualifies as a character. She’s a plot device, a trigger with which to initiate Dan’s story. It’s not even accurate to call her “one dimensional” insofar as she occupies two distinct states – Temptress and Psychobitch – and nothing in between.

    Seriously, your arguments here aren’t just bad, they’re comically bad.

  • What LaSargenta said. Alex exists, as a character, to force Dan to reconsider how he lives his life.

  • Robert P

    It’s not even accurate to call her “one dimensional” insofar as she
    occupies two distinct states – Temptress and Psychobitch – and nothing
    in between.

    Dan is “asshole who cheats on his wife and is desperate to avoid the consequences”.

    Alex is an intelligent, successful professional woman who’s coming apart at the seams psychologically and taking her rage and frustration out on a man she sees as using and abandoning her. We see her throwing up at the sight of Dan in his family environment, in a state of severe, lonely depression and breaking down in a fit of sobbing in a solitary moment on her exercise bike. Hardly a one-dimensional character.

    She’s a plot device, a trigger with which to initiate Dan’s story.

    Ah, that would explain why she was nominated for both an Oscar – Best Actress in a Leading Role and a Golden Globe – Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama and Michael Douglas wasn’t.

    Her performance introduced the term “Rabbit boiler” into the popular lexicon.

    Certainly they both give good performances and of course he acts off her as well but the heart of the story is about her state of mind and her actions. Without her it’s “lousy bastard cheats on his wife”, the end.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Dan is “asshole who cheats on his wife and is desperate to avoid the consequences”.

    Yes, that’s the story of “Fatal Attraction”.

    Alex is…

    And then you go on to describe the two distinct states in which Alex exists, just using mor words than I did. How was this supposed to bolster the idea that Alex is a full fledged character?

    And consider: what if we change Alex’s background. Let’s make her a drug-addicted waitress. Does this change the story (not the plot) of the movie in any significant way? If it doesn’t (and it doesn’t), then this isn’t her story.

    Also, your unwillingness or failure to apply an equal analysis to both characters is a blatant and cheap rhetorical trick.

    that would explain why she was nominated for both an Oscar… and a Golden Globe

    That’s an award for performance, not for writing. If you don’t know the difference, well, that’s part of why your arguments are so awful. It certainly helps if the character is well written in a “fully fledged character” sense, bit it’s by no means necessary. Think Johnny Depp in PotC:CotBP.

  • Robert P

    Also, your unwillingness or failure to apply an equal analysis to both characters is a blatant and cheap rhetorical trick.

    ~Sigmund Freud voice~ Ah yes, a classic example of projection.

    You assert Alex barely counts as a character isn’t even one dimensional, she’s merely a plot device. I suggest you watch the movie again. There’s nothing to support your assertions. Your brushing aside the Oscar and Golden Globe nominations is just plain silly.

    Dan – horny and angry.

    Alex – seductive, smart, scheming, depressed, genuinely hurt, enraged, jealous, yes psychotic. We even see she can even be “nice” with Dan’s daughter.

    To call her one-dimensional and “barely a character” is ridiculous nonsense.

    And then you go on to describe the two distinct states in which Alex exists

    You’re determined to score brownie points and are turning a blind eye to what’s going on in the story as outlined previously.

    Dan is “asshole who cheats on his wife and is desperate to avoid the consequences”.

    Yes, that’s the story of “Fatal Attraction”.

    No, that’s the outline of Dan’s character and the catalyst for the story – the story is made by Alex’s actions.

    That’s an award for performance, not for writing.

    Alex is a bigger character than Dan any way you look at it. Betcha when people talk about the movie her actions are much more prominent in their memory than Dan’s.

  • LaSargenta

    As I read your explanations, I definitely see how you find Alex a more vivid and important character than Dan; however, I think it is important to note that all art is a conversation.

    You and Your conversation with Fatal Attraction is most surely not mine. It is also not the conversation that nearly all women who saw that movie told me they had, either. I suspect that might be a key. When I (and nearly all of my female acquaintences) saw that movie, we saw yet another flick where the woman was the foil and the background for the man’s (aka: hero’s) story — the difference this time being that the woman was played by Glenn Close, someone who can make something incredible of the text on the back of an aspirin bottle. This also goes for Dan’s wife — she was background for Dan.

    I’m assuming you are male by your user name and I’d like to suggest that Alex’s character is more vivid to you because she frightened you, not because you could identify with her nor sympathise with her, but because you identified with Dan.

  • Protagonists can be assholes. Dan is still the character that *Fatal Attraction* is *about.*

    And women would rarely win Oscars if they couldn’t get nominated for roles that were not the central role in a film.

  • This.

    Also too: What *Fatal Attraction* said to a lot of women is “Bitches be crazy, and cannot live without a man, no matter what their other accomplishments.” Ugh.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    ~Sigmund Freud voice~ Ah yes, a classic example of projection.

    Oh, you’re adorable.

    Your brushing aside the Oscar and Golden Globe nominations is just plain silly.

    No, the nominations are irrelevant, because a character doesn’t have to be well written to be well performed. Also, Glenn Close being nominated doesn’t make the movie about her character.

    You’re determined to score brownie points

    With who??

    what’s going on in the story as outlined previously.

    What’s “going on in the story” is that Dan schtoops a woman he really shouldn’t have, and that goes badly for him when the woman turns out to be crazycookoobird. Alex’s character development begins and ends with that word. The whole movie is a cautionary tale for men about being sure not to stick your dick in crazy.

    the story is made by Alex’s actions.

    No, that’s the plot. Story and plot are not the same thing.

    movie her actions are much more prominent in their memory than Dan’s.

    Falstaff is more memorable than Hal, doesn’t mean Henry IV is about Falstaff.

    The whole movie is Dan’s story. He’s even allowed to win in the end. Hell, they even included a jump scare fake death for Alex, just to hammer home the point.

  • Robert P

    crazycookoobird. Alex’s character development begins and ends with that word.

    .facepalm

    The whole movie is Dan’s story.

    Response 1:

    I’m talking about the 1987 movie Fatal Attraction starring Glenn Close and Michael Douglas. Which Fatal Attraction are you talking about?

    The whole movie is Dan’s story.

    Alternate response 2:

    Okay.

    The whole movie is Dan’s story.

    Alternate response 3:

    .facepalm

  • Robert P

    Also too: What *Fatal Attraction* said to a lot of women is “Bitches be
    crazy, and cannot live without a man, no matter what their other
    accomplishments.”

    Did it also say to them “men are amoral, untrustworthy opportunistic dogs who don’t appreciate what they have and can’t keep it in their pants and can’t be counted on to take responsibility”?

    There are lots of women who *are* like that and men who are as described.

    I just saw it as a story about these particular two people that incorporated less than desirable traits that can readily be found in real life. It didn’t make me any more prone to feel one way or the other about either gender.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    So, smart guy, which is it? If you’re trying to be clever here, you’re really hitting the failure state.

    Or better yet, why don’t you explain to us how “Fatal Attraction” is Alex’s story, and not Dan’s. Here, I’l help with some prompts: How does Alex change and/or grow? What challenges does she face? How does she attempt to overcome adversity? How does she deal with the consequences of her actions, or of Dan’s? Why do we know so little about her, how she got the way she is, what she does when she’s not stalking Dan?

    Some hints: saying that it’s self-evident isn’t a response. It just says that either you don’t have an answer, or you’re just too lazy to point to what should be abundant evidence. Pointing out that she doesn’t show her psychotic side until later in the movie isn’t “change”. That’s a “reveal”. Alex was always psychotic, the audience isn’t clued in to that fact until it becomes dramatically appropriate in order to create trouble for Dan.

  • Did it also say to them “men are amoral, untrustworthy opportunistic dogs who don’t appreciate what they have and can’t keep it in their pants and can’t be counted on to take responsibility”?

    Yes, it did. And the story is about a man who learns this is wrong and changes his ways!

    There are also tons of movies about men who moral, trustworthy, appreciative, and loyal.

    Your point?

  • LaSargenta

    You brought up Fatal Attraction as an example, now you’re turning this movie into something that is going to prove or disprove yours or MaryAnn’s thesis. This movie — even if you were right, which I think is not true, at least, not to a helluva lotta women out there and at least a few men — is not going to disprove the point of this post.

    Most movies, even if it would not matter at all to the plot, have a male front and center. This long-term, constant barrage of males to identify with, sympathise with, idolise, etc, etc, even if one is a female in the audience, is a problem. You obviously don’t agree. Well, honestly, it’s not about you. Me, personally, don’t give a flying rat’s ass about what you think I should look for in my art or what I enjoy.

    I don’t get your resistance to agreeing that the brute numbers as shown from stats on IMDB (see Danielm80’s comments here somewhere) bear out MaryAnn’s rather bleakly humorous list at the top of this page.

    What does it matter to you? Why are you so invested in this? You strike me as someone who thinks about thing carefully from these few posts, so, just think about this a bit more and check out why our (being the people who’ve been arguing with you) responses are making you dig in your heels.

  • LaSargenta

    I make excellent rabbit stew…but I like to get rid of the skin first, and there’s got to be garlic, greens, and salt and pepper.

    ;-)

  • Bluejay

    There’s only one way to eat a brace of coneys.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYiCPmwOV4A

  • LaSargenta

    I have never seen any of this new LOTR. That clip just made me glad I didn’t. There’s no potatoes in Middle Earth unless it was in Peru.

  • Bluejay

    Well, tell that to Tolkien. The taters/potatoes line is straight out of the book. :-)

  • LaSargenta

    Jezus on a hockey puck, I blanked that out, obviously. If he were still alive, I would tell him! Anyone got a Ouija board?

  • Does your recipe call for boiled pet, or a trip to the butcher?

  • LaSargenta

    It involved a snare in the woods. Otherwise, it would be a trip to the butcher, or the rabbit hutch next to the chicken coop.

  • Robert P

    why don’t you explain to us how “Fatal Attraction” is Alex’s story, and not Dan’s. Here, I’l help with some prompts: How does Alex change and/or grow? What challenges does she face? How does she attempt to overcome adversity? How does she deal with the consequences of her actions, or
    of Dan’s? Why do we know so little about her, how she got the way she is, what she does when she’s not stalking Dan?

    What was that you said – “unwillingness or failure to apply an equal analysis to both characters” ?

    We’re not told how Dan became a cheating cretin.

    There doesn’t necessarily have to be a specific trauma that could cause a woman to be the way Alex is – brain chemistry/hormones can go wonky. And of course we don’t know what ended up on the cutting room floor unless it’s been specifically revealed. Glenn Close said she didn’t see Alex as a villain but someone who needed help.

    Apparently you don’t recall a lot about the film – there are scenes showing her in very private moments, including the original ending that was added as an afterthought after the film’s test release overseas and which Glenn Close was opposed to.

    The story is about their interaction and obviously requires both of them but in the context of what we’re shown about Dan and Alex, Alex is the bigger character. Dan’s character is mostly about reacting to what she does.

  • Robert P

    …including the original ending that
    was added as an afterthought after the film’s test release overseas and
    which Glenn Close was opposed to.

    Editing infarction – what I meant to say is the ending seen in the US release was an afterthought. The original ending is very different.

  • Robert P

    You brought up Fatal Attraction as an example, now you’re turning this
    movie into something that is going to prove or disprove yours or
    MaryAnn’s thesis.

    No, it’s just become a side debate unto itself.

    It’s not that I disagree that there are probably more male protagonist movies, my “thesis” is that I don’t see it as a huge issue as MA seems to think it is because there are so many female protagonist films that have been made.

    It may be that I don’t see movies the typical way from MAJ’s perspective in that I hardly see movies in the theater any more because so many of them are crap whoever they’re about. I go to the theater mostly to see big splashy SFX spectaculars where I don’t have high expectations regarding the plot. It just so happens that of those I’ve seen in recent years a big percentage of them – Avatar, The Hunger Games, Atlas Shrugged – have a main character who’s female. Atlas Shrugged isn’t a splashy sfx film but I wanted to see it.

    A large number of the movies I saw on a movie-watching binge a while back – including older films – are female centered or ensembles with a prominent female character. I just don’t view current theatrical offerings as the primary boundary of the film universe just like I know there’s a lot more music out there than whatever Biebercrap that Megacorp Music Inc. is currently peddling.

  • Look, this is really simple. If you are genuinely looking at quantifiable numbers, just frakking GOOGLE is. People have DONE this work. You do not need to rely on your flawed memory or strategies.

    “A new study finds that females comprised only 15 percent of protagonists
    and 29 percent of major characters in 2013’s highest grossing films.” -http://www.thewrap.com/cate-blanchett-women-little-progress-landing-major-movie-roles-study/

    http://womenintvfilm.sdsu.edu/files/2013_It%27s_a_Man%27s_World_Report.pdf

    This is NOT HARD.

  • Okay, simple question: how many scenes are there that show Alex without Dan in them? And how many scenes are there with Dan without Alex in them? On the same thread, who do you see first? What do you know about Alex before Dan meets her? What do you learn about here in any way OTHER than what she tells Dan? Then flip those questions around for Dan.

    Dan is the protagonist of the movie. He is the primary point-of-view character. We learn almost *nothing* about *anyone* except through his eyes (note I said “almost,” before you start exceptionalizing).

  • Oh, yes, we’ve gotten our “rewards.” Go compare the number of theater-released children’s movies with female protagonists there were 37 years ago when I was the age my daughter was now. Then compare how many theater-released children’s movies there are with female protagonists there were for my daughter in 2013. Go ahead. And then come tell me we got our “rewards.”

    Or, hey, better one: count up the number of male superheroes who have either had an eponymous movie in the last decade or been the major role in a team movie. Then do the same for female superheroes. And again, tell me about those rewards. You know, at least my generation had a show about Wonder Woman. If she’s lucky, my kid gets a Black Widow or Mystique, a supporting role in a movie mostly about men. Rewards. Yeah.

  • You do know that people have already *done* this work, don’t you? The stats are out there for anyone with a Googling skill of a freshman in high school. Hint: they don’t look good for your argument.

  • Zaheer the Anarchist

    Korra (in The Legend of Korra tv series) could have been the strong female character type that has been missing in the media i.e. the headstrong, musclebound, yet emotional, non-sexualized, main protagonist, badass. But the network freaked out on the writers for the female lead (because apparently boys can’t root for a female lead) and they stuck her with the obligatory tall, dark, and brooding boyfriend with inhuman insensitivity. Granted they dropped the silly relationship dynamic after backlash from fans and critics but that isn’t the point. As a guy who enjoys movies I can honestly say that I am tired too. I can easily identify with my own gender, I want to see more from a different perspective. I want to see female characters that don’t have to walk around half clothed in “adult” movies. There are the anti-feminist twits who say things like “but there is a greater female presence than male in University” my response is “get off your ass and go to school then.” Anyways, sorry for the somewhat irrelevant/misinformed rant.

  • Jurgan

    I just read through this thread, and wow. That Robert P guy… he really seemed to think Maryann having seen more movies than him made her argument weaker? A larger sample size generally makes your argument stronger, not weaker.

  • Unfortunately, many “arguments” against racism, sexism, and other bigotries consists of “Well, *I* don’t see it, so it doesn’t exist.”

  • Jurgan

    Yep. I know I’ve committed that same fallacy in the past, though I try to avoid it. I would think that, faced with hard numbers, I would shut up and accept defeat.

  • Blackmill08

    What about. White man? I think the ladder for representation in media is simply sad for minorities. Hispanics,blacks,Asians, and Arabic. All could use better representation the man part is half cooked we need way more than women. Honestly women are easily the most powerful beings on the planet in my opinion.

  • Danielm80

    If you wanted to make a list of groups that are underrepresented in movies, you could add LGBT people, people who are cognitively- and physically-challenged, and any number of other groups. The point is not that women are somehow more deserving of movies than African-Americans, or that American Indians are more deserving than lesbians, or even that women are more deserving than men. The point is that there should be films about every kind of person. Then we’ll have films that are more diverse, more accurate, and more interesting.

    MaryAnn chose to focus on women in this particular post, but she’s written quite a bit about other underrepresented groups.

    I would ask you to back up your assertion that women are “the most powerful beings on the planet,” using actual evidence, but I’m afraid that

    (A.) you’ll answer me

    and

    (B.) your answer will be a ten-paragraph rant about the oppression suffered by men.

  • Blackmill08

    Touche

  • Honestly women are easily the most powerful beings on the planet in my opinion.

    Hilarious.

  • Edward Mendosa

    Tired of female leads beating up grown men. It’s like Rhonda rousey vs Cain Velasquez. Just wouldn’t happen. Why don’t you mention that? I don’t care how big of a stick is up their butt. Girls aren’t beating men three times their size. Feminist BS

  • Bernie Gregson

    I like how you always complain about the plight of female characters in movies but never say a word about the fact that other groups have it FAR worse when it comes to show business, such as Asian American males. At least there are still leading female roles regularly in films and television. There are almost zero opportunities for Asian American men. If you are somebody that screams about equality, why don’t you actually put a spotlight on the people who are really given unequal treatment by in Hollywood.

  • You are welcome to start your own consciousness-raising campaign about the depiction of Asian American men in Hollywood. Who is stopping you?

  • LaSargenta

    Maybe because it is extremely difficult to speak for a group to which one doesn’t belong? One can speak up about a lack of representation easily enough, but parsing exactly how the stereotypes work is harder and potentially incredibly patronising when done from the outside. There is also the very real risk of missing something vital thereby accidentally silencing those on the inside of the issue who could explain it better.

    If you were to start a campaign (or expand and publicise an existing

  • Bluejay

    I do think it’s possible to speak up for others even if they may not be in one’s own “group.” It’s why authors like John Scalzi and Neil Gaiman can speak up for people more marginalized than they, and why Joss Whedon can make perfectly on-point feminist statements in his interviews and stories, and why a show like Legend of Korra can do such an impressive job with female/minority/queer representation even though it’s created and written by two straight white men. One can listen and learn and be respectful and have empathy and gain enough of an understanding (even if imperfect — but then whose is perfect?) to take a stand on those issues, and to point out how those issues impact everyone.

    That said, I agree that one should try to call attention to those inside the issue who, as you say, can explain it better. And choosing to shine a spotlight on one legitimate problem shouldn’t have to obligate you to shine a spotlight on all other problems.

  • just this once

    That’s because it is just called “life” when a women’s MESS hits the fan. I can sum up all that run on sentence in one FEMALE word…ELLEN. And you took all that time and effort to vomit that Feminist Anthem. Wow, You have a whole lot of time for only having two hands.

  • Mech Shop

    This premise is point blank false. Daytime TV is completely the domain
    of women, its universally gynocentric and misandric. Women are the
    always the lead and men are often bumbling idiots and or buffoons. Look at any type of chain store with a large magazine rack, almost all the magazines will cater to women. Goto any mall and note who the stores are catering to, the majority cater to women. A lot of movies are geared to women. While it may be true many of them suck, this is true of moves in general. Few movies are exceptional. So when a movie like Furious 7 comes out with its over the top machismo it breaks box office records. Not because its particularly good but because of supply and demand, so may more movies overdo gynocentric themes. Now if your talking about the gay lead, the nerd lead or the female lead that is pulling her weight just like the guys do. In society they are a fractional minority, they are already way over-represented in movies. This is probably because of the novelty of it. Who want to go see the mundane and familiar routine?

    Every point on the “ask to sympathize with” can easily be countered.
    But here is the simple point – men and women are different.
    Would a female lead have worked in the movie Birdman?
    Would a male lead work in winning the gold digging victories of Cinderella or others like it?

  • So many non sequiturs, but thanks for playing!

  • Mech Shop

    The mooks are almost universally male; we don’t seem to have any issue with butchering minions by the dozen to by the thousand, so long as we empathize with the main villain. Oh, don’t worry, you’re fine with giving catwoman a second chance, but feel free to slap around dozens of generic male minions without a second thought – they’re only cannon fodder. Which is what men generally are perceived as.

    Every single movie and TV show I watch seems to have the trademark “empowered” female protagonist who’s vain, selfish, entitled, cruel, childish, petty, vindictive, and let’s not forget needlessly violent towards men, and the writing does everything in its power to make me sympathize with such a monster rather than hating her guts.

  • Danielm80

    I was just reading this article about gender imbalances in literary awards:

    http://ladybusiness.dreamwidth.org/38016.html

    I liked this sentence: “But because we expect to find male dominance everywhere, we treat a slight predominance of women as proof that women have now become dominant in a way that’s unnatural and needs to be fixed.”

  • Looks like I’m gonna need to write that rant about how “but men get abused too!” is not a legitimate objection to complaining about how women are treated onscreen.

    trademark “empowered” female protagonist

    *sigh*

  • LaSargenta

    Is that really worth your time? I mean, it’s true, but, will these people bother listening?

  • Danielm80

    I was just reading an interview with a group of women who all star in Hollywood comedies:

    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/lena-dunham-amy-schumer-comedy-797861

    The article is followed by more than 1300 reader comments. The first couple of dozen are all derogatory. They say: These women aren’t funny, they’re vapid, they’re ugly, they’re potty-mouthed.

    More than a thousand people took time out of their day to comment on that article, even though they had nothing to say. So I think there are people who’d be interested in the rant, and there are people who need to hear it. But the first few dozen comments will be derogatory.

  • Mech Shop

    The movie Leviafan (2014) fits most of your “These are all the sorts of men I am tired of being asked to sympathize with” it may miss a few tropes and cover a few you may want to add. It does not have a happy ending like most cookie cutter movies. You should watch it, you may like it.

    http://www.amazon.com/Leviathan-Elena-Lyadova/dp/B00WAIQ4V4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432812068&sr=8-1&keywords=Leviathan+%282014%29

  • Danielm80
  • LaSargenta
  • Most films are a good fit for this list.

  • Mech Shop

    No most movies are not like this. Leviafan is for a Russian audience. The movie is unusual and does not fit western Disneyfication (or Russian political correctness), its not a typical movie. It was heavily pirated in Russia and this made it more popular at movie theatres which is not normal. For one you have typical female hypergamy, essentially completely off limits is a western movie. There were lots females in various roles in the movie (judges, police, friends, lovers, wives, bored employees and more). Its not one of the never ending series of “chick flicks” which there are always several on at any given time in movie theatres. There is a ton of gyocentric cable channels. You can watch Dr Oz on one of Oprah’s channels tell you how big and beautiful you are while he pushes another loss weight fast scam. Just because I cant stand this stuff does not mean women should not have the freedom to enjoy being entertained to their taste. Quinton Tarantino can do female leads but he is a rare master, mostly you get dud movies like Sky Capitan World of Tomorrow.

  • I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    Leviathan has a male protagonist. Like most Hollywood and indie movies made in the US and Europe these days.

  • Shelby

    “As we let men be”, such an obnoxious and arrogant comment!! I like my movies to be believable and unfortunately a “badass” female action star well, just isnt. I like my films to be realistic, a female lead beating a group/horde/office/army of males, isnt. I like my movies to represent a true demographic of society which unfortunately unless its a “chick flick” generaly means women playing second fiddle to men. Plus Hollywood is a bussiness and they choose to make films people will want to see, a guy wont pay to see “eye candy” in a film that he has no other interest in, women do. Now you can try to call me out that Im a sexist or whatever but at the end of the day the above comments for the most part are facts.Women will watch a film with male leads, men wont watch a film with female leads. Would I watch a film with black nazi sodiers, of course not that political correctness gone mad……….but thats what it seems you want.

  • LaSargenta

    Oh, realism?

    I like my films to be realistic, a female lead beating a group/horde/office/army of males, isnt.

    And just how often is it realistic that one man fights off half a dozen other goons? Realism is what you want, right? There’s a handful of MMA fighters who do one-against-many. Waaaay fewer than the number of ‘action heroes’ in movies.

  • Bluejay

    You have SO MUCH to learn.

  • You’re a sexist. You’re also delusional.

  • Mech Shop

    Add to the makers of movies list Nollywood and everywhere else in Africa, its generally more traditional and conservative than the US and Europe. I think its safe to add Bollywood, South East Asia and China too. Middle East, I would suspect any film coming from this region would tend to have an Islamic influence. Latin America, I don’t know of many movies, the Brazilian films City of God and Elite Squad, that qualifies too. Add this to Hollywood and indie movies made in the US and Europe/Eastern Europe. That covers the whole world except Antarctica, they make films about penguins there, but I am clueless about male and female penguins, I cant tell the difference.

  • bronxbee

    so…. let me get this straight, if i can. Fast and Furious movies are “realistic”? and you obviously don’t know the meaning of the word “demographic,” since a true demographic of society would have 51% of the characters in movies be women… hollywood “bussiness” isn’t representative of society at all; movies like San Andreas or The Day After Tomorrow, with a mostly male cast doing ridiculously impossible physical feats are not realistic. and women like male “eye candy” but that’s not all they expect of male characters… crawl back into whatever 19th century tent you came out of.

  • bronxbee

    i just posted something similar. really comments like this guy’s are mind-boggling. i know i should’t respond to them, but sometimes you can’t help yourself.

  • LaSargenta

    Know what you mean. *eyesroll*

  • Michelle Kirkwood

    Oh,really? Men won’t watch a film with female leads? Then how come both the new hit comedy Trainwreck (written by its star,Amy Schumer) and Melissa McCarthy latest films, The Heat and Spy have all been box office hits, then? So your claim of “men don’t want to watch films starring women” is just another BS claim.Hell, I’m a women and I seek out films with women in the lead, because men already dominate the majority of films as it is.

  • Michelle Kirkwood

    I feel the same way—–Hollywood acts like everything men do is so much more damn important than anything a woman does, and acts like female characters in a film can’t be as complex and fascinating as any male character. I found out a long time ago that if I want to see any realistic portrayals of women’s lives in films worth a damn, I have to look out for indie films, which do a better job of that (especially when they’re written,produced, and directed by women filmmakers.) That’s the route you gotta go, and it’s usually been worth it so far.

  • Michelle Kirkwood

    Uh,what? Bullock usually plays strong characters who take charge of their lives—where did you get this idea that she only plays “infantile” characters? Have you seen Gravity, Miss Congeniality, or one of her first films, a suspense thriller called The Net? None of those characters could be called “infantile” by any stretch of the imagination.

  • Michelle Kirkwood

    “Men create and maintain civilization, born on blood sweat and lives;
    thankless invisible jobs all around you that are necessary to your day
    to day existence.” So do women,dude—stop giving men all the damn credit and acting like women don’t do anything,or have never made any real contribution to society (which they have—look them up.) . And,FYI, women watch the news, and some women actually like watching sports. Women work and make their own money too—you make it sound like everything should be all about men, as if women have haven’t contributed anything to civilization or helped to create it. Women have always done the low-paying jobs that men like you have always thought were beneath them. Also, every woman’s life does not revolve around her family (if she even has one) or shopping or spending. And women have always had to fight for their independence, a hell of a lot more, and harder than men have ever had to. So don’t even try to play the “oh, men are the real victims here” BS, because it’s not even true,and you know it. You sound like one of thee MRA idiots,anyway.

    One last thing—if women didn’t reproduce, the human race would slow down. So women are a hell of lot more important to civilization than you even give us credit for.

  • Michelle Kirkwood

    Dude, seriously—feminism is just the belief that women should have equal rights just like men. It’s not even that damn complicated. Basically, you sound like you just want to go back to the good old times where white men ran everything and nobody questioned the status quo. Men had already defined these rigid as hell gender roles for themselves and for women–feminism happened because women got sick and damn tired of being shoved into those narrow,limited sexist roles. But you want to act like life before feminism was some la la la fantasyland before big bad feminism supposedly came and destroyed everything—whatever,dude, keep believing that BS before you get back on your meds. You haven’t said a damn thing worth repeating, or than even makes any sense in the context of recent history.

  • Michelle Kirkwood

    “Lower creative inclination”? WTF!? No,dear, women love creating and writing movies and TV just as much as any man does. It’s just that men dominated the field until women had to raise some hell to even be given the chance to do the same thing. Enough of your “man are much better and smarter than women just because we’re men”BS. Feminism challenged that BS, which is the real reason you hate it, and because it busts open your little bubble of superiority you like keeping yourself in. There are way too many female directors and producers in the entertainment for you to be spewing this BS. Sorry, but everything a man does is not great merely because he’s a man, and because he’s doing it. And there are some truly screwed-up men out there who hate women just because they’re women. And who the hell are you as a man to tell women what the hell they are supposed to be like according to your BS domination fantasies? GTFOOH, for real. And,FYI, men still run most TV programs. Just show how little you actually know about the movie and TV business, which is absolutely nothing, apparently.

  • Michelle Kirkwood

    That’s the damn truth—speak on it,sister!

  • Clint Carpentier

    You seriously kicked that strawman’s ass. I’m betting on you next time, I just lost forty bucks.

  • Clint Carpentier

    Mmhmmm, but wait, women aren’t reproducing; they’re too busy trying to make a living on minimum wage jobs. They can’t even afford to have kids. Perhaps feminism will be the next great extinction.

  • Clint Carpentier

    You have a low benchmark for what constitutes “strong character”. That’s sad.

  • Danielm80

    And now we know that if you say Clint’s name three times, he’ll appear—even a year later.

    Please don’t feed the troll.

  • Your hatred of women has been noted. Please cease commenting here: you’re not going to find any sympathy for your misogyny.

  • Clint Carpentier

    You have an incredibly loose definition of “hatred”. Playing fast and loose with aggressive terms, is a dishonest position to take. I’m glad I don’t follow your movie reviews.

  • kooky katt

    Cause kill bill wasn’t popular or anything….. Can you die in a car fire please?

  • Ruth Waterton

    May I recommend Nanni Moretti’s wonderful “Mia Madre”. Protagonist is a strong, successful female social realist flim director and it shows her balancing this, humouring an Italian-American star who isn’t up to the job (and is a jerk), plus there’s wonderful character studies of her mother (who is dying) and her teenage daughter, among others.

  • You may recommend it. :-)

    One film cannot hope to rectify the problem, however.

  • JC

    Is the article above satirical or an unintended self-parody?

  • Danielm80

    No.

  • Is your comment satirical or an unintended self-parody?

  • Nathan

    I see it as less of an equality issue and more of a quality issue. If I know the character and the setting and the basic plot already then what’s the point of watching the film. It’s degrading not only to the men who are type-casted depending on their race, it’s degrading to women who’d like to play a role fully clothed once and awhile. I can only see so many more virtuous “sluts” and troubled jocks before I vomit.

  • Bluejay

    I see it as less of an equality issue and more of a quality issue. If I know the character and the setting and the basic plot already then what’s the point of watching the film.

    “Quality” and “equality” are both real issues, but I think they’re separate issues. You’re right: we need more fresh, original stories with characters and settings and plots we’ve never seen before. But if we get a ton of them and they’re still overwhelmingly about men, that’s still a problem. We need more women at the center of stories — no matter the quality of those stories — playing the Main Person We’re Supposed to Care About. And if we’re doomed to have a ton of crappy derivative stories, it’s still better to have more women at the center of those crappy stories than to have fewer or no women at all.

  • Nathan

    I only fear that “strong female character” will become yet another buzzword to be leached off of by less exceptional writers and directors. All I’m saying is, this is an artistic problem first and foremost. I don’t want to see the simple desire of the average moviegoer for character variety be hijacked by people with a political agenda that has nothing to do with film. I’m all for equality, but this isn’t just for women. It’s for the sake of everyone who loves film. Equality isn’t just right, it’s smart.

  • Bluejay

    I only fear that “strong female character” will become yet another buzzword to be leached off of by less exceptional writers and directors.

    Yeah, but less exceptional writers and directors will have cardboard characters of ALL types: they’ll have Conflicted Male Anti-Hero, Funny Best Friend, Boring Villain Bent On World Domination, etc. It’s unavoidable that less talented writers will also have cardboard Strong Female Characters as long as less talented writers exist. The point of MAJ’s post isn’t that we need more “strong female character” stereotypes, it’s that we need more stories that are primarily about women, PERIOD. The crappy writers will always write crappy stories, and the great writers will always write great stories. But whatever the quality of the stories, the more stories there are about women, the better.

    I don’t want to see the simple desire of the average moviegoer for character variety be hijacked by people with a political agenda that has nothing to do with film.

    Is this being done, though? Are you thinking of any specific examples where this happened?

    I’m all for equality, but this isn’t just for women. It’s for the sake of everyone who loves film. Equality isn’t just right, it’s smart.

    I don’t disagree at all. You sound like you’re arguing with someone, but I don’t think MAJ or anyone is saying that men have to “lose” if women “win.” Women being better represented onscreen makes for better movies, which means everyone wins.

  • This is NOT an “artistic problem.” It’s a sexism problem.

  • will

    Thank you!!!!

  • Kaitlyn Kline

    So… Why not just write “Men in general”?

  • Danielm80

    If you’re reading this essay on a tablet computer, turn it sideways. The sentences that start “Men who…” or just “Men…” will start to look like a bar graph. Imagine that each bar is one movie released in a given year. That’s how many different movies there are with men as the main characters.

    Now compare that to the number of films about women. If you put those films on the graph (you could color the men blue and the women pink), you’d have a lot more blue than pink—by a huge margin. (And a lot of the female characters would be stereotypes, in a way that the male characters aren’t.)

    You could make the numbers into a pie chart instead. The figures would look like this:

    http://www.flickfilosopher.com/2016/04/where-are-the-women-only-22-of-2015s-movies-had-female-protagonists.html

    This essay isn’t about hating men. It’s about hating the way men are represented in movies.

  • You’ve almost gotten the joke! (“Men in movies in general” would just about cover it.)

  • It’s actually about hating that we could not make a list similar to this one about women onscreen.

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