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die hard is a xmas movie | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Creed

Where Are the Women? Creed

Why couldn’t Apollo Creed’s child have been a daughter who wants to box? That would have been a true reinvigoration of the Rocky franchise.

BASIC REPRESENTATION SCORE: -10

-10
Could the protagonist have been female without significantly impacting the film as a whole? (for a film with a male protagonist) [why this matters]

FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: +6

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


+2
Is there a woman whose role could easily have been played by a man? [why this matters]
+2
More than one? [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*? (*in this case, an adult child) [why this matters]


-3
Is a dead mother mentioned? [why this matters]
+3
Is a dead father also mentioned? [why this matters]

WILDCARD SCORE: -2

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

-3
Much in the vein of the “dead mother” trope [why this is a problem], we have the dead and absent — yet curiously still present — wife of Rocky Balboa. Adrian has been dead for years, but her influence is still felt without the need to employ a female actor; Rocky even visits her grave to talk to her and work out out some issues for himself.
+1
Unlike in every other boxing movie I have seen, the male director does not take the opportunity of the existence of bikini-clad woman parading around the ring holding cards announcing the round numbers as an “unavoidable” excuse to treat women as decorative objects. In fact, after the first such round card makes its appearance — held by a woman we see only from her (well-covered) chest up — we see only the cards themselves, not the anonymous Barbie dolls carrying them. While I am generally loathe to award points merely for not using women as decorative objects, in this case, it really is a notable departure from the standard, and so worth highlighting.

TOTAL SCORE: -16

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

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

BOTTOM LINE: Why couldn’t Apollo Creed’s child have been a daughter who inherited his athletic ability and wants to box? That would have been a true reinvigoration of the Rocky franchise. In the movie we actually got, the only female characters with any significant presence are the male protagonist’s stepmother and his girlfriend. They don’t get to take their own personal journeys, not even a little — he actually says to his girlfriend, “You motivate me,” making explicit the boosterish role women typically play — but at least they give him hell when he deserves it, and aren’t reduced to the saintly supportive types.


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

Click here for the ranking of 2015’s Oscar-nominated films for female representation.

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

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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