PRINCESSES. SO LAST YEAR
It’s time to throw away the tiara. Passive princesses are so last year.
Hollywood is being Brave. This school holiday season, the hit movie from Pixar stars a girl.She’s got a sword and she’s not afraid to use it. Merida (not to be confused with Rebekah Brooks) in Brave.
After a decade of movies like Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille and Up, the old boys at the animation studio finally had the balls to cast their first heroine.
Fellas, what took you so long?
Like many women of a certain age, I grew up with Wonder Woman. And Lynda Carter was no sidekick; she kicked arse.
The 70s were red-letter days for female superheroes, like Jaime Sommers in The Bionic Woman. Of course, this was a spinoff from The Six Million Dollar Man – spare parts, you could say.
DC comics created Supergirl and Batwoman as oestrogen supplements to the manly men.
And Charlie’s Angels (left) still had to answer to a bloke.
But bolshie birds burst back on the screen with Sigourney Weaver in Aliens, Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2, and Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft in Tombraider.
Suddenly, studio bosses were scared.
This did not fit the formula of strong male lead + female love interest + conflict + resolution = box office gold. But their assumptions are flawed.
Research by the University of Southern California, commissioned by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, provides an insight into the decision-making process.
In 2010, Stacy L. Smith found females were “grossly underrepresented across 122 G, PG and PG-13 films… with 2.42 times the number of male-speaking characters”.
So, she asked content creators why.
Almost half said it was because of “positive male market forces”; 32 percent blamed the “male dominated industry”; 20.4 percent the “male target audience”.
The second reason is valid: only seven percent of the films were directed by women.
But the first and third are based on a fallacy: that young men are the main market.
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