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Why Having Only Strong Girl Heroines is Not Enough

Why Having Only Strong Girl Heroines is Not Enough

A.O. Scott in the lead story of the NY Times Magazine this past weekend wrote a very interesting piece on how Hollywood has finally embraced women, well not exactly women, heroines.  The piece “Hollywood’s Year of Heroine Worship” delves into many very great points about the unique female characters seen onscreen this past year.  He focuses on the characters from Snow White and the Huntsman, Brave, The Hunger Games, Beasts of the Southern Wild and even adds in Twilight since Bella is much more heroic in the final film of the saga.

He also makes the point that the box office is still dominated by the male action flicks where women are sexy sidekicks (though strong like Anne Hathaway in Batman).  Looking at the numbers this is actually a good year for female roles at the box office.  According to box office mojo as of today, three films with a female protagonist are in the top ten grossing films of the year: The Hunger Games, Twlight Breaking Dawn Part 2 and Brave

This is all good news.

But digging a little bit deeper the one thing that I notice about all these movies and all these characters is that they are all GIRLS.  So my question is, where are the movies about strong WOMEN? 

Many sites have covered that douche publisher at the Niagra Falls Reporter who fired his film reviewer for covering films with a so-called feminist agenda.  Here’s what he wrote in particular about Snow White and the Huntsman:

Snow White and the Huntsman is trash moral garbage. a lot of fuzzy feminist thinking and pandering to creepy hollywood mores produced by metrosexual imbeciles.

I don’t want to publish reviews of films where women are alpha and men are beta. where women are heroes and villains and men are just lesser versions or shadows of females.

I believe in manliness.

Can you beieve that a person who says I believe in manliness is actually a publisher of a newspaper?  And while I believe that most newspaper publishers and editors don’t feel this way, sometimes I think that Hollywood believes in manliness.  That men are alpha and  women are beta.  I find it hilarious that a film about a princess who escapes from captivity and is by the way a fairy tale character could be construed as having a feminist agenda.  And also, the crazy rabid feminist in this film is barely out of her teens.  But she’s out to ruin the world so we need to put her back in her “girl box.”

I want to make it clear that I am thrilled that we had such strong female roles this year in films.  The performances particularly of Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games and Quvenzhané Wallis in Beast of the Southern Wild blew my mind. 

But I want more.  I want strong ADULT women heroines and I want other women besides Angelina Jolie to play them.  They don’t have to shoot arrows, they can shoot words, but they also belong onscreen.  Heroism does not end at 18 or 20 for guys so why should it end at the age for gals?  It’s almost as if the culture is comfortable seeing strong female characters before they hit puberty but once they get too far towards womanhood we really don’t want to see them potentially saving the world.   Girls are seen as less threatening because they don’t really wield any power.  Girl heroines, OK.  Women heroines, not so much. 

And this is a trend that will continue.  There are a bunch of Young Adult novels in development and production that feature youthful females as the leads.  Films like Beautiful Creatures (which opens in early 2013), Angel Fall, Earthseed, and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.  They will be rolling out over the next couple of years.   The key to the continuing of the success of these films will be if the female audiences comes out in big numbers, and also if guys go to see the films too.

We see adult male superheroes like Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man and Liam Neeson lately in everything he does, yet there are so few women’s roles like that. 

A.O. Scott might be right that 2012 might turn out to be a pretty good year for “female heroism.”  He also is right that we shouldn’t all think things will be different now that there have been a couple of successful films with female leads, which by the way were all directed by men.  Things will only be different when we see a diversity of films with female heroes of all ages, just like is available for the guys, because in my life I see great female heroes everywhere.

Behind the Cover Story: A. O. Scott on Women, “Girls” and the Standout Female Performances of the Year (NY Times)

Hollywood’s Year of Heroine Worship (NY Times)

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