Reel Girl goes around the web!

The good news is that three of my absolute favorite sites on the internet– Women and Hollywood, Jezebel, and Miss Representation– linked to and posted about Reel Girl’s Gallery of Girls Gone Missing From Children’s Movies in 2013.

The bad news is Reel Girl ran out of bandwith not once, but twice. ARGH.

The good news is the sexist posters from kids movies are back up. If you haven’t seen them, you can look now.

You should also check out Laura Beck’s post on Jezebel. She writes about the bad influence the limited representations of females has on kids:

As for how it leaves girls feeling, this is probably something many of us can relate to. As a child, I strived for the perfection of a Disney Princess, perhaps subconsciously knowing I’d never achieve that, I started imagining myself in the shoes of more adventurous male characters. I’ve talked to many women who’ve had similar experiences, this sort of transference. Lacking decent female role models, it’s not surprising many girls live stories through the eyes of boys and men.

There’s a passage in Margaret Cho’s hilarious 2002 autobiography I’m the One That I Want that talks about this in terms of race. This is paraphrased, but she basically says that, as a young girls, she couldn’t wait to grow up and become white like everyone on TV. Heartbreaking, and I think this experience resonates with many people. When you don’t see yourself reflected in media, you push yourself into it.

Beck also goes on to tell a creepy but unsurprising story:

Now, a personal anecdote. I have a friend who’s a writer working in children’s TV. She’s constantly taking meetings and pitching stories, and she told me when she first started in the business, she pitched stories with girl leads. However, after being told to change the protagonist to a male character more than a few times — and once being told to actually turn the movie into a live action rom com for adult women!? — she now pitches almost entirely male-driven stories. And guess what? She’s selling.

What is surprising is that so many people buy the bullshit line: “Girls will see movies about boys, but boys won’t see movies about girls.”

How can we see cool movies about girls when no one will make them?

 

Everyone loves “Argo” but where are the women?

Women and Hollywood posted about Ben Affleck’s universally adored “Argo:”

Of the movie’s thirteen or so lead roles, three of them are played by women, and none of them are the caliber you might expect from a film that takes its female characters seriously…

Part of the movie’s marginalization of female characters can be rationalized away by the true-life nature of the film. Because the movie is “based on a true story,” Affleck and his screenwriter, Chris Terrio, have to somewhat stick to the facts and show the story the way things happened. But unlike this year’s Compliance, which told about as accurate of an account of real-life workplace abuse possible, Argo plays fast and loose with the facts for cinematic impact — to ramp up the drama and intensity. (If you needed someone to tell you the airport chase probably didn’t happen that way, you have no idea what the definition of a movie is.) Thus, the “we-had-to-stick-to-the-facts-so-no-lines-for-womenfolk” argument doesn’t hold up. If you can make room for an airport chase, a protracted dénouement where Mendez is awarded an Intelligence Star, a speech from Jimmy Carter (that adds nothing to the film) and a gratuitous shot of Affleck’s abs, you can give one woman something to do. Anything at all.

I’m not saying they should create a new role for a woman or magically create a female spy (it’s not Alias, after all), but the women here deserve more than virtual silence. The film doesn’t take place at an all-boys’ school or a magical world in which all of the women have gone mute. It was the 1970′s, not Spike TV. There were women who had relationships to the story, and the film’s desire to marginalize them or cut them out completely shows how little modern Hollywood thinks of female narratives. Movies actually made in the 70′s had better roles for women than this, and the idea that Affleck gets let off the hook for sexism because he made a period piece is insulting.

Writer Nico Lang is addressing an issue that people always raise on Reel Girl: “a magical world where the women have gone mute.” Fill-in-the-blank movie has to leave females out because that’s just how it is, in the original story, in the time period, in the jungle, whatever i.e. Tintin, Lord of the Rings, Marvel comics, DC comics, pirates, the 70s.

WTF? There is only one female chef in “Ratatouille” because there aren’t female chefs in France. The movie is about a rat who can cook. A talking rodent is more believable than 50% of chefs being female? In “The Lion King” the female lions have to wait until the male lion, our hero, Simba, returns because males lead the pride in the real world. That same “real world” where a lion dances, sings and is BFFs with a warthog and Meekrat? Huh?

The “we-had-to-stick-to-the-facts-so-no-lines-for-womenfolk” argument rarely holds up, yet it gets used all the time.

Lang makes another point in her criticism of “Argo” that I often address on Reel Girl. When a female is allowed to be a lead in a movie, she is surrounded by a constellation of males. You almost never get to see powerful females working together. Lang writes:

Argo isn’t alone in marginalizing women’s roles in film, as all but five of this year’s Top 20 films were dominated by men, and even films that feature women as leads do so in films where their gender is the minority (see: The Hunger GamesBraveSnow White and the Huntsman).Although it may be wrong to criticize Argo for doing the same thing everyone else is (just more egregiously), the film shows that even our “serious films” often do not privilege women’s narratives.

Not serious films and not children’s films. What does that leave? Oh yeah, chick flicks.