[personal profile] dysprositos
I've been getting better at commenting at sites I like, when I think of things to say, but not so great on the posting, so--two in one! I'm going to repost a (pretty long) comment I made over at the Hathor Legacy, on a post called How to Use Circular Logic to Back Up Your Bias. Discussion topic: how to "prove" that movies about women don't do well, by defining any movie starring women that does do well as an exception. (See also: men from the ages of 18 to, what, 25? 30? is the best demographic to advertise at because they spend the most on random branded shit if it's advertised at them [so shows that accidentally end up with lots of older women watching instead of young men must frantically shoo the women away so they don't lose advertising money], women only go to certain movies because their boyfriends and husbands made them, women don't buy drinks men buy drinks for women, &c.) Comment follows.

Joanna Russ's How to Suppress Women's Writing is painfully relevant here. Take all of the excuses on the cover, adjust them so they're "That movie was about women, but" instead of "She wrote it, but", and I already recognize all of them.

That movie wasn't about women. That movie was about women, but it shouldn't have been. That movie was about women, but look what else it was about. That movie was about women, but there was only one woman in it. That movie was about women, but they weren't really that great of characters, and it was just a popcorn flick. That movie was about women, but it only did well because of the.... That movie was about women, but it's an anomaly.

Even when male and female characters get equal time and focus, the movie's assumed to be about him. Even when a movie's main characters are all or mostly women, "that doesn't count" when it's time to run the numbers. (There was an article a while back which listed all the Fox shows that were about angsty solitary male characters saving the world all by themselves. Sarah Connor Chronicles was on the list.)

Well, sure it starred a woman, but that was just because of some PC crap. She was really just a man with breasts, when it comes down to it. (Ripley should have been a man.)

The Devil Wears Prada was about women, but it was also about fashion. You can't expect us to let icky girl cooties into our movies like fashion and motherhood and feminism and romance and family, do you? (Note how carefully the Disney princess [and non-princess, like Mulan] movies are excluded from discussions of the conventional "girls will watch movies starring boys, but boys won't watch movies starring girls" wisdom. And women just aren't worth targeting, except in the soap opera and rom-com industries. Oh, and fashion shows. And cooking shows. And, really, any home and garden show without manly things like construction.)

Elizabeth and Storm and Leia and Hermione and Sarah Connor and Rose and and... none of them count, we're all just watching for the guys, amirite?

When was the last time movies about men had to be Great Works of Art in order to "count" in this kind of discussion? I'm reminded of the Wuthering Heights re-classification, after it was discovered to have been written by (gasp!) a woman, from a book about the nature of good and evil and the influence of nature versus that of nurture on our moral character, to a romance. Because it's written by a girl, don'tcha know.

It was a movie about women, but it only did well because of... the explosions, the aliens, the cursing, the sex, the men. Because the real question to ask when it comes to movies about women that do well is, what got the men watching? (Apparently the idea that red-blooded straight men can like watching good-looking women having lives or saving the day [even without gratuitous nudity!] is as weird as the idea that there exist any red-blooded straight wome who can watch movies just to see the good-looking men.)

And, of course, fall back on "that's an anomaly. So's that one. Yes, that one too. And that one. All of the many high-grossing movies about women are anomalies!" excuse when all else fails.
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