Friday, May 16, 2008

Preach the word, Sister Girlfriend.

I'm not a niche. I'm more than 50% of the world population.

The boys of summer, by Dorothy Snarker at AfterEllen.

. . . One needs only to look at this summer’s slate to see the sad truth. Besides all the testosterone-driven superhero flicks, it’s all dudes – old and young. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: old dude with a whip. Speed Racer: young dude with a car. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian: Prince dude. You Don't Mess with the Zohan: secret agent turned hairstylist dude. Get Smart: not-so-smart dude. The Love Guru: enlightened dude. Hancock: burned-out super dude. Hellboy II: The Golden Army: big red dude. Pineapple Express: stoner dudes. Bangkok Dangerous: why-is-he-still-getting-leading-action-roles dude . . .

. . . But this leads us to the classic chicken or egg question: Are there few successful female-driven films because they don’t do well, or do female-driven films not do well because there are so few of them? I have to believe the latter. Baby Mama, a comedy with not one but two female leads (way to eat up the year’s quota, ladies,) opened No. 1 and beat out a comedy with two male leads (Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay). Perhaps you’ve also heard of Alien, The Devil Wears Prada and some hardly-seen flick called Titanic.

Hundreds of male-driven films flop each year, but there are so many of them, we hardly notice except for the biggest-budget disasters. But if one or two female films fail (like Nicole Kidman’s The Invasion and Jodie Foster’s The Brave One last year) and it’s time to pull the plug? In the last three years Nicolas Cage (the aforementioned “why-is-he-still-getting-leading-action-roles dude”) has had bomb (Next) after bomb (The Wicker Man) after bomb (The Weather Man) after bomb (Lord of War); yet there is his big creepy face on movie posters for Bangkok Dangerous scaring small children.

The problem isn’t that women’s movies don’t do well; the problem is that women’s movies are treated as a niche. The choices in female-driven films simply aren’t as broad as the choices in male-centered films. For the most part, we are either in romantic comedies (because, you know, all women want to get married) or thrillers (because, you know, women in peril sells). It’s pretty simple: more choices mean more opportunities to connect, means more chance of success.

Women-centered films can become the Field of Dreams of cinema. If you make good ones, we will come.

Favorite comments:

I reckon its time our het sisters refused to get dragged by their men to such tetosterone fuelled movies.

- notshane

I don't have a man, notshane, but if you know some nice, straight guys, I'll drag them to see Baby Mama.

And re: Nicolas Cage,

He's not an outstanding actor**, he's not attractive, he's not charismatic. WHY does his career EXIST??

This is one of the greatest mysteries of our era.

- zenarcade

zenarcade, I thought I was the only one pondering this enigma.

For you readers who think my lyrics are too abrasive for public consumption, I direct you to the following article in the indie publication called The New York Times. Read it while you can!:

Is There a Real Woman in This Multiplex?, by Manohla Dargis. Emphases on the snark, mine.

. . . Nobody likes to admit the worst, even when it’s right up there on the screen, particularly women in the industry who clutch at every pitiful short straw, insisting that there are, for instance, more female executives in Hollywood than ever before. As if it’s done the rest of us any good. All you have to do is look at the movies themselves — at the decorative blondes and brunettes smiling and simpering at the edge of the frame — to see just how irrelevant we have become. That’s as true for the dumbest and smartest of comedies as for the most critically revered dramas, from “No Country for Old Men” (but especially for women) to “There Will Be Blood” (but no women). Welcome to the new, post-female American cinema . . .

. . . In “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” the lucky guy is Peter (the screenwriter Jason Segel), whose stunning conquest, Rachel (Mila Kunis), is so out of his league as to be in another universe. No matter. Peter snags this prize specifically because — from his full-frontal nudity to his penchant for hugs and voluble crying jags, for which he’s literally mistaken for a woman — he’s basically another chick, or what Arnold Schwarzenegger once called a girlie man. (The softly plumped Mr. Segel even looks as if he could fit into an A cup.) In one scene Peter goes swimming with Rachel only to end up clinging to the side of a cliff. Rachel, who has already taken the plunge, laughingly yells up at him, “I can see your vagina!”

Better a virtual vagina, I suppose, than none at all. Last year only 3 of the 20 highest-grossing releases in America were female-driven, and involve a princess (“Enchanted”) or pregnancy (“Knocked Up” and “Juno”). Actresses had starring roles in about a quarter of the next 80 highest-grossing titles, mostly in dopey romantic comedies and dopier thrillers. A number of these were among the worst-reviewed movies of the year, including “Premonition” (Sandra Bullock) and “The Reaping” (Hilary Swank), the last of which was released by — ta-da! — Warner Brothers. The days of “Million Dollar Baby,” for which Ms. Swank won an Oscar, and “Speed,” which rocketed Ms. Bullock to stardom in the summer of 1994, feel long gone . . .

Hee! And, boo.



angryyoungwoman said...

Does the new Indiana Jones just look like a two-hour Viagra commercial to you? It seriously does to me--with that old man out there trying so hard to prove his virility. It looks so, so sad. Kind of makes me wonder how my dad's doing.

Bianca Reagan said...

I don't have a dad, but yes, it is sad. Harrison needed to stop pretending he's an action hero since Air Force One.