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rare female film critic | by maryann johanson

women are not a ‘niche audience’

Unbelievable. IMDB’s Studio Briefing splashes this headline today: “Can Niche Audience Make ‘Sex And The City’ A Hit?”

Niche audience. Women are a “niche audience.” More than half the population: “niche.”

Excuse me for not sounding very ladylike, but What. The. Fuck.
Studio Briefing quotes, with a sort of smug nod of approval, the Los Angeles Times as saying “It’s easier to find $2-a-gallon gas than a straight man eager to see the movie.” So what if straight men don’t want to see the movie? Are straight men the only audience that matters? Why should straight men matter if a movie is deliberately aimed at people who aren’t straight men, as apparently SATC is perceived as being? I mean, that reveals a deep and sort of psychotic kind of self-deception on the part of, you know, all of Hollywood, a kind of circular logic that can only be called a circle jerk: Movies must appeal to straight men because straight men are the only ones who go to the movies because the only movies that get released that matter, in a business sense, are movies that appeal to straight men.

Straight men are far less than half the population, but Hollywood must cater to them all the damn time? Why are “men who like comic book movies” never a “niche”? Or “men who like movies about shit blowing up” never a “niche”?

(The flip side of this, too, is that my choice to see a movie like Iron Man — twice! — is ignored. I didn’t tag along with a boyfriend or husband because he wanted to see it and I cared only about pleasing him even though I would be bored out of my mind by a movie like Iron Man. [I know women do this, even if they deserve a smack for doing so. Tell him to go with his friends, honey, and you go do whatever you want to do.] I went because it’s a kick-ass movie, and because I enjoy fantasizing about all the things I’d like to do to please Robert Downey Jr., which don’t involve sitting in a movie theater. Yet this fact — a woman over 35 voluntarily chosing to see Iron Man, or other movies like it — is not considered an accurate reflection of “what a woman wants to see at the movies.” But that’s a whole other rant.)

I say these things not to disparage straight men, who are among some of the most wonderful people I know, or movies about comic book superheroes or shit getting blown up, which, as everyone who reads this site regularly knows, are among my favorite kinds of movies. And I say these things not as a fan of Sex and the City, which I am most decidedly not. The life the women characters of that show lead is not recognizable to me, not even as a single woman who works in publishing/media living in New York. (I don’t own a single pair of Manolos, and cannot even conceive of buying one: Jesus, that’s rent money, not shoe money, particularly for a freelance writer, like Carrie Bradshaw is supposed to be. And I’m not looking for a rich man to take care of me, either. Maybe because I haven’t spent $50,000 on shoes.)

But I hope to high heaven that Sex and the City, the movie, is a freakin’ blockbuster, if only to show those idiot Hollywood executives that what women like and want matters too.

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