Girls on Film: Three Years Later

Back in 2008 I posted this piece railing against the status of women in conventional Hollywood films, especially in comedies and comic book adaptation flicks. Over the course of my blogging tenure I’ve bemoaned the lack of female roles in flicks, books, TV and comic books.

But lately I’ve felt…content. Perhaps it’s a natural response to the process of actively seeking out materials in these mediums which represent women, but something shifted for me last month and I’ve been ruminating on what magically altered my viewpoint about Girls on Film (as a system of naming the lack of female roles in entertainment in general).

In late June/early July I watched this quiet, independent film titled The Poker House starring Jennifer Lawrence, Selma Blair and Chloe Moretz, written and directed by Lori Petty and David Alan Grier. Yeah – I’m not joking. That’s some serious estrogen-laced girlness right there. It was expertly acted, painfully real and belied all reserves I’ve had about JLaw as Katniss Everdeen. Even more so than Winter’s Bone.

I can’t, can’t, CANNOT recommend this film enough. It does have a rape scene in it, so please proceed with caution.

But it sort of shook me out of my funk and the narrow lens with which I’ve been eyeballing all types of entertainment and art in the last year or so. Strangely, this funk shaking had an adverse effect, and I’ve spent the better part of this month ruminating and taking notice of the goings-ons around me with new eyes.

I like what I see.

LADIES – this is the revolution ya’ll! We are DOMINATING entertainment. It’s big screen and it’s small screen and it’s quiet and it’s loud but we are doing it. Sistahs are doing it for themselves.

And it’s so refreshing to watch something, to read something and hear a voice you recognize. To see a person you recognize. It makes you realize how rare it is that something in entertainment resonates with you – as a woman. How hard it is to relate to so much that is dominated by white males. And then you see it and you’re like “fuck yes!” I didn’t even know I was missing it. But there it is. Like falling in love all over again.

No one seems to know where this rolling wave of womanhood came from, but it’s certainly reaching the shore at this moment and depositing a shit ton of lovely pearls on the beaches for us to pluck up and admire.

– Female centric book series which appeal strongly to the masses (male and female) like The Hunger Games

– Female comedic flicks like Bridesmaids and Easy A featuring amazingly funny women (though noticeably lite on ladies of color)

– Females are ruling the sitcom world in shows like 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation.

– Females are even making their mark (and occasionally passing the Bechdel Test) in male-centric material like Sons of Anarchy. I absolutely love Katey Sagal in this series. She has some of the very best lines in the entire show. It has some problematic issues around race – but that’s a subject for an upcoming blog entry.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo aka “Millenium” franchise with a central female protagonist  is a world-wide bestseller and is spawning a Hollywood adaptation due out this winter.

– This weekend our mostly female book club is going to watch The Help, a story centered around three characters, two of them women of color. It’s a fairly popular but controversial book/film due to some of its historical inaccuracies, but I’m so pleased to be heading into it…because I know for sure it’s going to pass the Bechdel Test for women and race when so few films are able to. As for the controversy? Well, I’ll let you know.

The point is: everywhere I turn in recent months, I see ladies making it in mediums that are otherwise dominated by men, and doing so based on talent and audience demand. Women are responding positively to seeing themselves represented and portrayed well by other women.

It just seems like in the last year or so that all this feminine fruit which has been languishing on the vine since 2008 and beyond has come to bear. It would be unfortunate not to take a moment to recognize and celebrate the achievements women have made in telling and sharing their stories.

I’d also like to point out a dearth of material which accurately depicts gender and race lurks right under the surface of entertainment. We just have to scrape away all the bad bits, like Jersey Shore, Mad Men and the Transformer franchise to find them. Oh – there you are! I was looking everywhere for you Fringe!

If we don’t use our time and energy to support art and entertainment by and for minorities…then it’s tough to complain when someone else does. So that’s my battle cry. If you are frustrated with not seeing your gender, race, sexual-orientation on the big screen…find out where it exists and celebrate it. Because it does exist.

DON’T stop getting pissed because you can’t find it in Hollywood or on your comic book shelf. KNOW that it’s gonna be somewhere else. And when you do find it – make sure everyone you know, knows about it.

PLEASE don’t stop demanding and giving everyone hell for doing it wrong either.

I’ve been somewhat silent on the comic book front in the past few months, and there’s a reason for that. Me and comics have had a  falling out lately – neither party in particular is to blame. I’m hoping my period of unemployment will get me back to rights. But I’m still so skeptical about starting up another relationship with comic books. I’ve been burned so many times. I don’t know if comics will EVER recognize, appreciate and support its female fanbase the way it should.

This entry doesn’t mean I won’t continue asking tough questions and analyzing the entertainment I consume. I just wanted to pause and appreciate and celebrate the positive trend I’m noticing. It’s good. But it’s not everything. So great job everyone. Now get back to work. 🙂

And read this comic book panel, because it gives me hope:

Power Girl knows the score.

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About tinyheroes

Mindy Crouchley is a 33 year old woman with a degree in English and Technical Writing from Portland State University. She has accumulated three+ years experience in the Marketing and Communications field - with an emphasis on creating digital media content. She has been reading comic books since she was 10 years old. She currently lives in outer southeast Portland with her spouse Dan Robertson, her baby girl, and their dog - Jabba the pug. She spends her free time devouring books, crafting cosplay, video gaming, attending comic cons, writing stories/screenplays, attending book to film adaptation club meetings, volunteering, and watching copious amounts of TV and movies.

One response to “Girls on Film: Three Years Later”

  1. Barbara Machine says :

    I learned a lot from this post, great help for me, thank you!

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