Sunday, October 9, 2022

Movies Getting Women Wrong

I was recently on Facebook when I saw an obnoxious, self-righteous meme about people not liking female Marvel characters for "some reason."  It pictured nearly every female character in the MCU.  Now of course, virtually no MCU fans dislike all its female characters.  Is disproportionately disliking the female characters sexist or is it possible that major franchises could legitimately be disproportionately messing up female characters?  Without going case-by-case into the female characters in every single movie, I will say that yes, it is possible that modern mainstream franchises are legitimately disproportionately messing up female characters and there are two reasons why, both from seemingly different ends of the spectrum.

One of the reasons for bad writing of females is that we live in a patriarchal, male-normative society and in most places have probably since the dawn of time.  Springing from this, most of society's storytelling has been male-normative and about male main characters going back millennia.  Many consider this a clear form of male privilege.  According to a google search, Shakespeare created about 798 male characters and 149 female ones.  The 19th-century novel, something many consider an antecedent to cinematic storytelling, was largely male-dominated, both with authors and characters, although there are some famous exceptions.  Movies have certainly been a men's medium, and when I think of all the great iconic actresses and roles of Hollywood's golden age, setting aside race, Hollywood has largely fallen backwards when it comes to women's representation and being the main character.  Collectively, our narrative imagination seems to be male-normative to the point where, as someone who has been a professional script reader, I feel like even women often don't know how to write women.

Add to this a second problem that seems to be coming from the other end of the spectrum, woke feminism, and the two things work together to ensure poorly written female characters.  Female characters are often not fleshed-out, but are mainly just there to make a point about women being strong, intelligent, just as good as men.  It's like someone said, "I don't know how to write women, except that they have to be badasses."  This combination of not actually knowing how to write women while having to be a good feminist is how we get bland Mary Sues with little to no personality and often no real character arc as they are already perfect.

The problems with the quality of female representation in franchises and movies as a whole are not innate.  In fact, women can and should have better than this.  Women themselves are very much not a problem and I look forward to seeing the lives, feelings, and stories of women better explored further in the future.  I think often, people don't oppose diversity, but they oppose iconic characters being turned into some group they aren't from and/or they oppose the political correctness that is often connected, though not innately, especially nowadays, to diversity.

No comments:

Post a Comment