With Frozen and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire battling for first and second place at the box office, the old Hollywood saws about how audiences won’t turn out for female-driven films are taking a serious hit. It turns out there isn’t an audience for films about women; there are several. So the timing of RogerEbert.com’s “Women Power” week, devoted exclusively to work from the site’s female contributors, comes at a particularly apt time. Chaz Ebert, the site’s publisher, made the announcement this morning.
Just last week I attended the TED Women conference in San Francisco, and they too were struggling with this question. Is a “Women’s” conference so 1970’s? Or are there still enough inequalities between the sexes that make it important to highlight the accomplishments of women? It was reported that women still make 77 cents for each dollar earned by a man. More surprisingly, Dr. Paula Johnson said that old medical experiments that didn’t differentiate between men and women have to be thrown out because it has been discovered that each cell has a sex. And different cells express themselves differently in men and women for certain diseases, so that a heart attack for a woman may present itself differently than a heart attack for a man. Amazing. So while we are talking movies rather than health, let’s see whether Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus.
Among the pieces already up on the site are Alyssa Rosenberg’s “Five Memories From My Year of Watching Women,”with nods to 12 Years a Slave, Sleepy Hollow and The Best Man Holiday; among those promised are a discussion between Susan Wloszczyna, Christie Lemire and Sheila O’Malley about Abel Ferrara’s cult classic Ms. 45, due for rerelease by Alamo Drafthouse on Dec. 13. It should be interesting as the week goes on to see whether keeping the spotlight on female writers changes the tone of the site — or the comments threads — and if so, how.