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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

I’m not sure that telling men that a movie about women isn’t for them is helping


Is this for real? From The Hollywood Reporter:

No Men Allowed: How Sony Pictures Classics Is Wooing Women Only to ‘Austenland’

Female-only screenings and a “high tea” at Jane Seymour’s house highlight a unique new marketing push for the romantic comedy; says SPC co-president Tom Bernard of men, “We just said ‘Fine, it’s not for you. Don’t see it. Can’t come.’ “

With its Aug. 16 romantic comedy Austenland, Sony Pictures Classics is taking female-targeted marketing to a new level. The specialty label has begun a series of word-of-mouth screenings and events for women only. “It’s not like we’re going to have guards at the door throwing men out,” says SPC co-president Tom Bernard. “But I think everyone will get the message based on the invitations.”

Wait, what? What about the invitations? Are they, dear god, pink?

For Austenland producer Stephenie Meyer, who demonstrated the power of the female consumer with her Twilight books, the moves make perfect sense. “This film is very uniquely female,” she explains. “There can’t be many movies in the marketplace that are based on a novel by a woman, scripted by women, produced by women, directed by a woman and starring a woman. There are beginning to be more female-centric, female-created movies in the marketplace, but they’re still vastly the minority.”

What in the actual fuck? Movies made by women about women are for exclusively female audiences?

You want to reinforce the idea that women are a minority with niche interests that could not possibly be appreciated or understood by default normal human beings (ie, men)? This is the perfect way to do it.


  • PJK

    So instead of letting people make up their own mind about what interests them, we now are going to enforce gender based segregation based on what the producers think should constitute the audience for their product?

    Isn’t this pushing things decidedly in the wrong direction?

    I thought we were pushing for an inclusive society, where mature individuals decide for themselves what they like and don’t like instead of an exclusive society where a small group decides what the masses can and can’t like.

    Well if Sony Pictures Classics feels the need to decide which movies I can see, maybe I should decide that I want to see none of their pictures.

  • Bluejay

    Besides everything you’ve said (which I agree with), I also fail to see how this makes sense financially. Why would they intentionally discourage half the moviegoing audience from seeing it? Why wouldn’t they want this film to make as much money as possible?

  • I thought we were pushing for an inclusive society

    What makes you think that? :-(

  • Danielm80

    “This film is very uniquely female,” she explains.

    If she thinks that’s a sentence, that tells us a lot. But she’s exactly right about this:

    “There can’t be many movies in the marketplace that are based on a novel by a woman, scripted by women, produced by women, directed by a woman and starring a woman.

    Maybe if that weren’t true, the films “for women” would be better. Right now, we get stereotypes about both genders: Women like movies about romance and fashion and babies. Men like movies with sports, gross-out humor, stuff blowing up, and girls in tiny outfits. The producers keep saying, “But that’s what sells.” Maybe it sells because there’s nothing else at the box office.

  • RogerBW

    Clearly, sex is the only important thing. Therefore I have vastly more in common with a sixteen-year-old boy in Los Angeles, Dubai or Lagos than I do with my wife.
    (Now if they had screenings for “nobody under thirty”, or just promised to throw out anyone who made noises or used their phones…)

  • LaSargenta

    Maybe it sells because there’s nothing else at the box office.

    I’ve been thinking this, too.

  • David N-T

    I find these notions odd, given that I and many guys will enjoy romantic subplots and even, *gasp* romantic comedies provided that they are good movies that respect their viewers’ intelligence. But hey, I’m not surprised that Stephenie Meyer who has made her fortune by writing terrible books that were adapted into terrible movies would feel differently given how gender regressive they were.

  • Fionna

    Not a big fan of the Twighlight books but I’ve never actually felt the desire to punch Stephenie Meyer before now. I know that, technically, she’s not saying this but her message comes across as ‘Jane Austen is only interesting to women’. Two centuries of male students of literature may beg to differ on that one. (Not to mention the broad appeal of, for example, the 1996 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice.) What is she thinking??

  • I do recall enjoying a romantic comedy or two in my day, but that may have been due to anomalously high levels of estrogen in my bloodstream at the time. I think that’s the only logical conclusion.

  • bronxbee

    are you saying your wife is not interested in sex?

  • Joybuzzer

    This could all be a marketing scheme. Tell the men “You can’t see this movie” so they all say “Dammit! I’m seeing this movie now!”
    Maybe not a brilliant one, but that could be their thought process. “Look, we’re not going to get a lot of men to see this. How do we get more men to see this?” “How about we tell them they can’t?”

  • amanohyo

    The “no dudes” marketing strategy didn’t work on me, but the cell phones in the pic were confusing so I looked at the summary on IMDB: “Obsessed with the BBC production of ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ a woman travels to a Jane Austen theme park in search of her perfect gentleman” – based on a popular book of course.

    Um… how does this plan make any sense? Let’s say hypothetically that I am obsessed with Poison Ivy, the fictional character as played by Uma Thurman in the greatest Batman movie, nay the greatest artistic achievement of the last two millennia. I wouldn’t go to Comic-con or Universal Studios in order to find an actual Poison Ivy to marry. I’d go to a Botanical Garden or maybe the Department of Plant Biology at a university.

    I mean, if you go to a Jane Austen theme park, wouldn’t you just expect to find paid performers in costumes and a some customers who are also fans of Austen? I think (hope?) most adults are capable of telling the difference between a superficial Darcy fetish and love for a real person. Or maybe that’s the moral of the story (a la Young Adult)? This whole marriage plan of hers confuses me.

  • RogerBW

    Well, the theme park might be a good place to find fellow fans. Assuming you don’t have the Internet, of course.

  • amanohyo

    If she’s going to the park because she likes Austen and has a Darcy fetish, that’s one thing. If she wants to hook up with fellow fans, that would make sense too, but the summary gives the impression that she’s going specifically to find her own real life Mr. Darcy – a human male who resembles Mr. Darcy in personality and presumably in appearance since she is obsessed with a particular actor.

    I guess my question is: Is a fan of a particular author more likely than a random person to resemble one of the main characters written by that author? Do you strongly resemble the main characters of your favorite authors? I can see how a fan might be more likely to mentally resemble an author (and to a lesser degree a main character) whose personality was strongly incorporated into their writing style, but as Virginia Woolf famously noted, Austen’s style is virtually free of obvious personal influences.

    My Poison Ivy analogy above is poor. Hmm… let’s say I fell in love with Cleopatra as played by Elizabeth Taylor. “Where oh where can I find a woman so beautiful, proud, passionate, and noble,” I pine every waking moment. One day, I hear about the opening of a new Shakespeare theme park. “Aha! If I go there, I’ll be sure to find my real life Cleo!”

    What kind of logic is that? Why would a proud, powerful, beautiful woman be likely to hang out at a Shakespeare theme park? Similarly, why would a man possessing whatever qualities this character finds attractive in Firth’s Darcy be likely to hang out at an Austen theme park? Mr. Darcy, as written, doesn’t seem to be the type to go in for drawing room romantic comedies.

    It might just be an inaccurate summary. I’ll go scrounge around for a plot summary of the novel to make sure I’m not over thinking something that’s turns out to be a typo.

  • amanohyo

    After reading a synopsis, I realize the “theme park” is more Fantasy Island/Role Playing Camp/Fanfic Holodeck than Disneyworld. So… she’s hoping to meet a man who wants to pretend to be Mr. Darcy I guess? This is making my head hurt – I’ll stop thinking about it until MA valiantly performs her duty as the canary in this chick lit coal mine. The fact that Stephanie Meyer loves the book is not encouraging.

  • Matt Clayton

    To her credit, Stephanie Meyer had no hand in writing Austenland. She loved the book and thought it would make a good movie, so she got things rolling.

  • Lydia

    I suppose while the women in their lives are out seeing this movie, all the men will have to stay home and drink Dr. Pepper 10.

  • amanohyo

    Googled it – a manly diet soda? How is diet soda in any way more manly than water from the tap? Thanks to chemical runoff, some tapwater will literally grow hair on your chest (maybe even some tumors in your large intestine). Also if you’re near an old-school fracking operation, it’s flammable – there’s nothing more manly than drinking something on fire (yes, I know the first government study showed no contamination – grant me some artistic license here). At the very least, tap water has the Chalktastic Chlorinated flavor than real men crave, and it’s cheap as free to boot. They should put tap water in tin cans with big rivets and call it Tapout Regeneratorade, or maybe seal shots of concentrated sulfuric acid in pyrex bulbs and call it H3O Extreme – real men crush pyrex with their teeth, then slowly and painfully dissolve their internal organs until death!*

    *death not guaranteed

  • Isabelle May

    I think he meant sex in the “what goes on in your pants” way, not the “fun times” way.

  • Jamie

    I think most of us have a pretty good idea of where Mrs. Meyer is coming from, and it’s not a place I’d like to visit. Ever.

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