Female representation in hollywood

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astroboy

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I understand that folks are annoyed at the muck-up regarding this conversation in the Star Wars Ep. 7 thread. Fair enough. That's a great thread and I wouldn't want to spoil it.

So I thought I'd start a new thread that anyone can say their point, if they want. Or this thread can sink like a stone.

I will say my point here and then let the thread be.


many people are saying there have been so many great female characters that we don't need to bother talking about this any more. Yes there have been Xena, Leia, trinity, Katniss, The Bride, Lara Croft, Hit Girl, etc........Lot's of strong women who kick ass.

But that isn't my point. My point is that we need well written female characters and fair representation of gender.

Often those women are the only female member of the cast (I'm not talking about Stand by me or das boot. I'm talking about movies that take place in regular society). It's such a noticed problem that right now, only about 30% of the speaking roles in hollywood are for women. And the sony hacks proved that the women who DO get roles, get paid a fraction of their male co-stars.

For those not familiar with the Bechdel test, this is a short video that got me thinking a lot about the movies I watch in hollywood:

 
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Jeyl

Master Member
many people are saying there have been so many great female characters that we don't need to bother talking about this any more. Yes there have been Xena, Leia, trinity, Katniss, The Bride, Lara Croft, Hit Girl, etc........Lot's of strong women who kick ass.
Here's a question I'd like to ask you. What are some examples where the writers try to create strong capable female characters but completely drop the ball? Like there is clear intent on not making them your typical damsels or romantic interest, but it somehow ends up not doing anything?

I think one of the most prominent example of lazy attempts of making women strong is the straight up approach of having them completely upstage a male subordinate for no other reason than to appear 100% in charge. Because the only way we can show our women can do what men do is by dominating them either physically or vocally. Let me give you some examples.

Agent Carter from Captain America: Winter Soldier. Her very first introduction in the Marvel Cinematic Universe executes this cliché in spades. We're introduced to her while she's addressing a group of soldiers. One of the soldiers doesn't take her seriously, so her response to show how tough she is is to beat him up in front of everyone. Now I'm thankful that Peggy Carter wound up being a much more interesting, fun and well thought out character as the MCU progressed, but this kind of introduction has the danger of making your tough female character unlikable. Like...

Lois Lane from Man of Steel: Despite the military guy not wanting to shake her hand and stating that they weren't expecting her till the next day, she decides to tell him what he already knows about his failed injunction and ends the conversation with a dick measuring comment. Now Lois Lane was nothing if not a "take no ****** from anyone" especially in the Donner films, but she also had a sense of enthusiasm that made her a lot of fun. But having Lois come off tough by having be mean spirited did not make her a likable character.

Captain Janeway and Torres from Star Trek Voyager: I could settle with the image of Janeway's introduction featuring her literally standing over Tom Paris with her hands on her side, but it's the very next episode Parallax that did the deed. We have an actual Starfleet Engineer who is butting heads with Torres, a Maquis engineer who hates Starfleet. Since their original chief engineer is dead, Voyager needs a replacement. Rather than having it be an easy decision, the show makes it convoluted and idiotic in disguise of "These women are smarter than you!". So the episode treats the male engineer like a whiny idiot after having his nose broken by Torres and being handed the idiot ball by asking whether maintaining the holographic doctor should be a priority.... You know, the only qualified medical 'thing' onboard the ship when during the episode the crew are experiencing mysterious health issues? Now when it comes to widening a space crack to get Voyager out of bad space, they need a shuttle in order to widen it since Paris said that bringing Voyager closer would cause it to collapse. So when Paris makes the suggestion that he should fly the shuttle since he's the best pilot, Janeway shoots him down by stating that he knows nothing of temporal mechanics... even though Paris just stopped Janeway from taking action that would have collapsed the crack seconds ago.

Now some might say this about Ellen Ripley in ALIENS when she interacts with the Colonial Marines. Unlike the characters previously mentioned, we know that Ripley is a survivor who has dealt with a threat that the marines know nothing about but will soon have to face. While she questions some command decisions early on, she doesn't become insistent until lives are at stake. When she's telling Hudson to shape up when he's on the verge on panicking, it's not a show of dominance, but of practical sense. She's already been through this kind of thing so it makes sense that she's the one who can take charge of this situation through familiarity and experience. And it's clear that she's not in this alone when Hicks, who's the highest ranking officer is still giving orders.
 

Jeyl

Master Member
The Force Awakens looks like it's going to be great!
Good idea, nice cast, and despite the 'sandwiching' promo poster, it could work. The only thing I see that can royally screw this up is JJ Abrams. Leaving aside the TV Medium, his movies leave a ton to be desired when it comes to female representation. Of the three Mission Impossible films he's been involved with, none of the female IMF agents are brought back in the following films, with Rogue Nation having only one female IMF agent for about a solid minute before being fridged. And for Star Trek with the slight exception for Uhura.

Star Wars has a long way to go if it wants to up the ante on how it represents it's female demographic. I know this sounds like I'm giving absolutely zero hope to Disney's take on the franchise, but even if The Force Awakens is incredibly awesome with the character of Rei, the later films might completely ruin her. The final part of the trilogy is being directed by Colin Trevorrow, and if he had directed The Empire Strike's Back, this exchange would definitely have made it into the final cut.

Han: You've been so busy being a Princess, you haven't learned how to be a woman. I could have helped ya. But it's too late. Your big opportunity is flying out of here sweetheart.​

Imagine a whole character arc revolving around that premise. That's Claire's entire character in a nutshell. Even when she gets a "Moment of awesome!" her nephews still prefer Chris Pratt.
 

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Bryancd

Master Member
Good idea, nice cast, and despite the 'sandwiching' promo poster, it could work..
Despite the fact that a female poster on that thread said your "sandwiching" complaint was completely without merit! Didn't think much of your other thoughts on the subject either.
 

jlee562

Sr Member
Despite the fact that a female poster on that thread said your "sandwiching" complaint was completely without merit! Didn't think much of your other thoughts on the subject either.
While I can't say I agree with Jeyl's interpretation of the poster (especially considering that the movie hasn't been released), I also can't agree with the idea (in a general sense) that an argument related to sexism or female representation is without merit because "a female poster" didn't agree.
 

Bryancd

Master Member
While I can't say I agree with Jeyl's interpretation of the poster (especially considering that the movie hasn't been released), I also can't agree with the idea (in a general sense) that an argument related to sexism or female representation is without merit because "a female poster" didn't agree.
She didn't agree with it because it doesn't exists. Often we forget, opinions can and often are, wrong.
 

NeoRutty

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
The final part of the trilogy is being directed by Colin Trevorrow, and if he had directed The Empire Strike's Back, this exchange would definitely have made it into the final cut.
Han: You've been so busy being a Princess, you haven't learned how to be a woman. I could have helped ya. But it's too late. Your big opportunity is flying out of here sweetheart.​

Imagine a whole character arc revolving around that premise. That's Claire's entire character in a nutshell. Even when she gets a "Moment of awesome!" her nephews still prefer Chris Pratt.
So now we are getting mad at a guy and "what if"-ing he directed a movie from over 30 years ago?

Can't you enjoy a movie?

JJ's track record? Have you WATCHED 3 years of Felicity where he wrote the brunt of the episodes himself? A show with a female lead... with great supporting female characters... and gay characters...

Alias...

MI-3 Cruise is brought back to life by his wife... NOT a tough girl... handles herself in a scary as crap situation....

His track record?!?!

gawds.
 

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Bryancd

Master Member
I think the only big miss for JJ recently in regards to a female character was Dr. Marcus in ST Into Darkness and he and the writers owned up to it. They blew it, knew it, owned it. But I and I know MANY female fans who really appreciate the new Uhura. I think Zoe did a great job with the character and very much enjoyed her in the film.
 

jlee562

Sr Member
She didn't agree with it because it doesn't exists. Often we forget, opinions can and often are, wrong.
Right, and I said that I don't agree with Jeyl's interpretation. My point is that you're trying to dismiss Jeyl by pointing out that "a" (as in singular) female didn't agree with him.

This can't be where the bar is set for the discussion. The fact that one woman disagreed with Jeyl and commented as such, means that two people have a different opinion, no more, no less.
 

Bryancd

Master Member
So now we are getting mad at a guy and "what if"-ing he directed a movie from over 30 years ago?

Can't you enjoy a movie?

JJ's track record? Have you WATCHED 3 years of Felicity where he wrote the brunt of the episodes himself? A show with a female lead... with great supporting female characters... and gay characters...

Alias...

MI-3 Cruise is brought back to life by his wife... NOT a tough girl... handles herself in a scary as crap situation....

His track record?!?!

gawds.
He's talking about Jurassic World and Colin Treverrow ad already anticipating that Episode 9 will be a @$t show. That's the mentality we are dealing with and the obfuscating he will engage in to try and make a point. It's a shame as their is validity to the conversation but complexly lost by his presentation.

- - - Updated - - -

Right, and I said that I don't agree with Jeyl's interpretation. My point is that you're trying to dismiss Jeyl by pointing out that "a" (as in singular) female didn't agree with him.

This can't be where the bar is set for the discussion. The fact that one woman disagreed with Jeyl and commented as such, means that two people have a different opinion, no more, no less.
But this is his track record. He throws accusation first and never apologies when proven wrong later. His interpretation is wrong, there is no such intent in the image. It's a fantasy in his head made manifest as a criticism.
 
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NeoRutty

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
He's talking about Jurassic World and Colin Treverrow ad already anticipating that Episode 9 will be a @$t show.
Oh I know... just funny to see him getting worked up about what he MAY have done had he directed a previous movie.

As for Jurrasic World, Whedon was pretty annoyed with the depiction of female characters in that movie, but then feminists went after Whedon for Black Widow in Age of Ultron...

Then there are the misogynists who went after Mad Max Fury Road for hating men...

It never even occured to me watching Fury Road that I was watching a woman empowerment flick... it was just a damn good flick.

All this ripping on this movie for not enough strong female roles, or Ghostbusters for pandering to strong female roles....

I just want to be entertained!
 

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astroboy

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Mad max was awesome with great female characters. It was a perfect movie for so many reasons.


But....there was definitely an outcry because of the female characters.
 

Jeyl

Master Member
I think the only big miss for JJ recently in regards to a female character was Dr. Marcus in ST Into Darkness and he and the writers owned up to it. They blew it, knew it, owned it.
And one of the ways they owned up to it? By dropping her from the next film. All the things that the audience, fans and even the filmmakers said were problematic to her character are now going to be the only things she'll be remembered for. It'd be like if the new Clone Wars series saw how people thought Ahsoka was an annoying, unlikable sidekick to Anakin and responded by completely removing her from the series. Aren't we glad Ahsoka stuck around to became one of the most refreshing and endearing characters that Star Wars has had in a long time?
 

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