Female Screen Savers: Is Rise In Female Lead Roles Really Groundbreaking?
Right now, we’re going through another feminist revolution however this time, it’s on the screen.
By Gabrielle Kynoch
We have Wonder Woman smashing the box office in thigh highs and gold accessories. There’s Rey flying Han’s pride and joy, the Millennium Falcon in Star Wars: The Force Awaken and a badass baby Wolverine in Logan played by the deadly Dafne Keen. Yet, it seems that corporate execs aren’t necessarily doing it for the Grrl Power but the tasty pay check that has attached itself on the stiletto heel of feminism.
Feminism has become a buzzword in board meetings; how can we seem woke? How can we bust the stereotype so that women leave the theatre feeling empowered? How can we move merchandise of Harley Quinn before Halloween?
The prominent feminist film theorist Laura Mulvey explained in Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, that basically women are included in scripts and films purely for the male gaze. So that the male protagonist has something pretty to hit on and so that the male audience has something to fantasise about, “the gender power asymmetry is a controlling force in cinema and constructed for the pleasure of the male viewer, which is deeply rooted in patriarchal ideologies and discourses.” Until recently it seems that Hollywood has realised that the other half of the population also enjoy spilling popcorn in the dark and nerding out about the call back to M. Night Shyamalan’s previous films.
Recently, one of the biggest British franchises has been given a gender reassignment. Jodie Whittaker has been cast as the 13th Doctor, succeeding Peter Capaldi in Doctor Who. As news reached social media, it triggered the expectant sexist reviews from the meninists of the internet. “Politcal correctness madness…” and more confusingly “maybe down the track we can see a Doctor Who revival played by a homosexual transgender dolphin…” because the idea of a marine animal playing a ‘male character’ is as ludicrous as a women doctor?! The reaction has seemed to stir something so primal in these men that they are combusting all over their keyboards and spouting utter shit to defend their manhood. Proving Mulvey’s theory is still alive and kicking, a section of the audience is still holding onto the thought that they are the primary viewers and women should provide eye candy and not rule the story line.
Doctor Who has never really been my bag but I understand the massive following it has all over the world, spanning generations. For a concept, it’s genius! It can literally withstand time. The Doctor regenerates each season meaning that each actor can bring something new to the table while holding onto the core identity of the character. The doctor reflects the times and its time for something other than a white dude running around with a female side kick, so why not a female doctor? If it’s a random regeneration (and my knowledge isn’t great on this subject) but wouldn’t it be assumed that eventually the wheel of fortune would end on an XX rather than XY?
Perhaps, the BBC has caught wind of the feminist hype and has thrown in their female front runner or maybe it’s time the female half of the audience to be able to relate to their beloved character. Realistically, if a true fan is going to let this minor detail ruin their favourite show; in fear that the Doctor is going to let her feelings get in the way or that she’s going to menstruate all over the place, then are they really fans? In my opinion, if this is their true feelings then I’m glad they can’t enjoy their favourite thing anymore and they should drag their knuckles back to the cave.
In turn this has opened discussion for another British franchise, James Bond. Another jewel in the crown of British heritage. Again it seems that people are loosing their minds at the idea of Cherlize Theron or Gillian Anderson drinking a martini while leaving a clueless man in her bed. Like Doctor Who, the James Bond saga gets rebooted every few years when a new white dude tackles the spy role. As discussed, the big bosses want to seem down with the millenials so I don’t think this idea has been erased from the white board of ideas just yet, but in my opinion this would be a mistake.
Controversial, I know, but I think casting a woman in the exact role of James, or Jane Bond would be fluffing feminism a little too much. Unlike, the Doctor where regeneration is at the centre of the series; a female Doctor seems inevitable but catering for women by altering James Bond to fit feminism changes the narrative. James Bond is what it is, it’s a lad movie. Smacking baddies, banging hotties and drinking the self hate away. It’s a display of masculinity which both sexes enjoy, Hollywood needs to realise that there isn’t guy movies and gal movies. Films are about showing inner turmoil and over coming personal demons, a display of human emotion and that counts for all the emotions out there, even the broody man feelings.
If movie execs are desperate to get their hands in our purses, then I suggest a female spy spinoff (I hate that term because since Frasier there has never been a good spinoff). Set in the same ‘universe’ as 007, why not an ass kicking woman who laughs at James’ heavy hand and alcohol dependency. She’s equally as good at her job but never gets the high profile gigs over James because the glass ceiling has caged her inside MI6, until her big break when 007 goes haywire yet again. Never send a man, to do a woman’s job…