I went to see Jumper tonight with Max. I wasn’t expecting much, but thought it might be fun in a ‘turn your brain off’ kind of way. It was pretty ‘meh’ all round. I didn’t really like the main dude and also, Samuel L Jackson just tried to kill him, and instead of asking why or worrying about it, he goes and looks up that girl he used to think was cute and takes her to Rome? And she goes? It’s been eight years love, he could have grown up to be a serial killer! Although possibly a serial killer would not bother taking you to Rome first…
Anyway, when we came out I said ‘Why weren’t there any female Jumpers?’ He laughed, ‘I knew you’d say something like that.’ And went on to remind me of the time we saw Attack of the Clones and I said ‘Female Jedi!? About bloody time.’ But…wasn’t it about time? We’d had, what? four films before that, and not a female Jedi in sight? OK, so Leia was pretty feisty (although still in that damn gold bikini), but I always felt it was implied she would give birth to a future Jedi boy, not become one, even if she was their ‘last hope’.
Max then threw in my face my most favourite kick ass woman by asking ‘How come there aren’t any male Slayers?’ Oh OK, fine, we can’t have ONE thing that’s just ours, one time women get to be the hero, get to be stronger than men?
This makes me sound like I want women beating up men all the time, but that’s not it. It just gets old sometimes, having the only thing that represents you in films be someone who gets abducted so the man feels worry and guilt and comes to save you, after a lot of screaming and crying. Or the person wearing skimpy outfits. Or the total bitch. So I was trying to think of good films that have women as the heroes. And I’m talking decent films that did well at the box office, got good reviews etc. I’m discounting Horror because, although girls do generally win in the end, they’ve often wandered around in their underwear and screamed a lot beforehand. I discounted Lara Croft because of her teeny shorts and that she was most likely designed to appeal to men.
And so I came up with two that I am comfortable with. Ripley and Sarah Connor. Right now I can’t think of any others. Care to help?
Max suggested Underworld, Resident Evil and the Matrix Trilogy. Underworld..OK, she’s the hero, but did men go to see it for that or for Kate Beckinsale in a skin tight cat suit? Plus, it’s a pretty shitty film. Resident Evil…also pretty shitty. Matrix – she’s not the main hero is she? Neo is ‘The One’.
I don’t usually deconstruct films so, because I usually go to the cinema to turn of my brain, for the escapism factor, but maybe that’s not a good thing. So I’ve been thinking about it and why there aren’t more strong female leads in films. I figure maybe studios don’t do them more because men are the main audience and worry about alienating them if there’s no male lead. Max suggested that women don’t really want to see films like that anyway. Really? I like action films (good ones I mean). It’d be nice to have more cool women in them. So are we to blame? We’d rather watch romantic comedies, so that’s what we’re given? Do we really not care to see films outside that tiny box? I said that if they were done well, women would watch. The recent female centred ones I can think of (mainly UltraViolet and Elektra – it’s been slim pickins), were so stinkingly bad and with two leads that were still about showing off boobs and ass that women would be put off. I’d still say they were firmly aimed at men. Either that or studios have warped ideas about what women want.
I guess that’s the thing. Am I alone in this? Do women want more films where they kick ass, save the day? (Without the restrictive costumes.) Or do they not care? Do they not go because the ones that do come out are shit? Do we really only want to see men saving the day? Are female driven action films directed solely at adolescent boys? Is it because there are so few women in Hollywood? Are we to blame for continuing to go see romantic comedies? Can’t we have both?
I don’t really know the answers. I know I love having strong, powerful women as my counterpart on screen. That’s why I continue to go back to Buffy. Since her there have been few, if any, strong women for me on TV. That’s why I watch Aliens and Terminator/T2, because in the ten plus years since the last one came out, there’s been little to take its place. Or at least nothing that has stayed with me.
So what am I missing? Tell me I’ve overlooked really obvious films, or that I’m being daft.