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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? My All American

Where Are the Women? My All American

Only two women appear in any meaningful way: the adoring and supportive mother of the male protagonist, and his even more adoring and supportive girlfriend.

BASIC REPRESENTATION SCORE: -10

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

FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: +2

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

THE MALE GAZE SCORE: 0

[no issues]

GENDER/SEXUALITY SCORE: -10

-5
Is there a female character who is primarily defined by her emotional and/or sexual relationship with a man or men? [why this matters]


-5
Is there a female character who is primarily defined by her emotional or biological relationship with a child or children? [why this matters]

WILDCARD SCORE: -3

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

Similar to the problem of women paired romantically with men old enough to be their fathers [why this is an issue], here we have Robin Tunney (born 1972) cast as the mother of the male protagonist, played by Finn Wittrock (born 1984). A significant number of scenes in which he is a child could have excused casting such a young woman as his mother, but apart from only a single extremely brief scene in which he is a young boy (which is the only reason I am not deducting the full five points), Tunney is playing mother to a man only 12 years younger than she is. Contrast this with actor Michael Reilly Burke (born 1964), playing the male protagonist’s father, who is plausibly old enough even when the protagonist is older.

TOTAL SCORE: -21

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

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

BOTTOM LINE: Apart from a female journalist character who appears very briefly in the opening and closing scenes, only two women appear in his film: the adoring and supportive mother of the male protagonist, and his even more adoring and supportive girlfriend. On their very first date, she says, “I don’t know that much about football,” the sport to which he is dedicated. “You will,” he replies with a smile, because of course her life will now revolve around him and his needs. And it does… and she is utterly happy about that, even when it stretches credulity even more so than this clichéd kind of character typically does.


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

NOTE: This is not a “review” of My All American! It is simply an examination of how well or how poorly it represents women. (A movie that represents women well can still be a terrible film; a movie that represents women poorly can still be a great film.) Read my review of My All American.

See the full rating criteria. (Criteria that do not apply to this film have been deleted in this rating for maximum readability.)


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