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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Aloha

Where Are the Women? Aloha

As is all too typical in cinematic depictions of men and women, women come fully formed, and only men have room to grow and change.

BASIC REPRESENTATION SCORE: -10

-10
Is there a manic pixie dream girl? [why this matters]

FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: +3

+1
Is there a female character with insignificant screen time in a position of authority? [why this matters]


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

THE MALE GAZE SCORE: 0

[no issues]

GENDER/SEXUALITY SCORE: -5

-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]

WILDCARD SCORE: -5

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

A female character of Hawaiian heritage and who carries a banner within the story of representing a Native Hawaiian perspective is portrayed by Emma Stone, who is purely of white European background. While undoubtedly there are real people in the real world who are of mixed race but appear white, there is nothing in this film that deals thematically with issues of mixed-race identity, and the character’s constant discussion of her ethnic background — she mentions many times that her mother was Swedish, her father half Hawaiian and half Chinese — sounds like nothing more than ongoing justification for casting the role with a white actress.

TOTAL SCORE: -17

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

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

BOTTOM LINE: A film that masquerades as a romantic dramedy — which would ostensibly put men and women on an equal footing — instead posits that women’s place in romantic relationships is to forgive men their failings and inspire them to be better people. As is all too typical in cinematic depictions of men and women, there is no suggestion that women might need the support of men in order to become better people; instead, women come fully formed, and only men have room to grow and change.


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

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

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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