mad in pursuit journal

DISPATCHED FROM THE CROSSROADS, AT THE intersection OF feminism & flop

Women Movie Heroes — Gone!

A few weeks ago I pondered women's movie adventures. I wanted to find women heroes. It was tough to find any big heroic women's roles — and when I did they were often tragedies.

In the 9.3.06 New York Times Magazine, I got some insight. Hollywood cann't make money on actresses taking the lead in serious drama. Isn't that a kick in the shorts? the studios, there are now two genres available to women in leading roles: romantic comedies (which made Julia Roberts and Reese Witherspoon into huge box-office stars) and women-in-peril films (think Jodie Foster in the mega-hits "Flightplan" and "Panic Room").

How the heck did that happen?

The article (which is mainly about the young actress Vera Farmiga) doesn't get too analytical. Dramas as a genre are not in favor now. And then there is tabloid celebrity. Jennifer Aniston, Nicole Kidman and Lindsey Lohan sell lots of magazines.

But this type of exposure may be making the possibility of serious leading lady roles only more remote. Because of their tabloid fame, it is increasingly difficult for these actresses to be seen by audiences as characters who are much more than versions of themselves.

A career like Meryl Streep's, they say, may be a thing of the past. Streep is known as an actress, not a "personality."

But that doesn't explain why we don't see more of the Sigorney Weavers and the Holly Hunters in heroic leads. There must be something cultural going on that I haven't caught up with. Does it go back to the writers? Not enough women writers able to get through the gates of Hollywood hell to sell a script?

Maybe women — mothers, teachers, nurses — are such natural heroes, they don't fascinate us. Men can be such babies — we love to see one who can get his act together. Heh-heh.


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