Thursday, 18 February 2016

Girls on Film

Perm-a-tan by the bucket load. Tiny shivering women wishing their stylists didn't swoon at the word coat. The Daily Mail in apoplectic rage at uncovered arms on the over 30s. The glory that is the awards season is upon us and the gods of the silver screen have descended to red carpets draped from LA to Berlin with a fearless disregard for Europe's plunging temperatures and our ability to live without kale.

As no-one can fail to notice, the 2016 oscars have cocked-up on levels usually reserved for Donald Trump. The flood of aging celebrities trying to prove they really are down with the kids and voted for diversity is as repellent as the nonsense spouted by Charlotte Rampling, proof if ever it was needed that some actors should stick to words written by people far brighter than them. It was great to see Spike Lee and the fabulous Jada Pinkett Smith show what morals look like in action but I can't have been the only one waiting for the power triumvirate that is di Caprio, Clooney and Pitt to do the same - with all due respect to the Smiths, that's a boycott that would have made a difference. Maybe the lure of a goody bag containing a sex toy and a walking tour of Japan was just too much for our billionaires, please God they don't combine the two.

Diversity issues this year are not confined to racism - try applying the Bechdel Test to the 2016 Oscar nomination list and you'll be done before Chris Rock has finished his opening joke. If you're not familiar with the test, it asks whether a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. To even get that far, you need two women - for 6 out of the 8 nominated films that's a struggle. Bridge of Spies, The Revenant, Spotlight, The Martian - it's boys club film-making and boys' club casting. But even these don't stoop to the depths of The Big Short, Hollywood's portrayal of the financial crisis of 2007-8 starring Steve Carrell, Ryan Gosling and Christian Bale as the financial gurus who predicted the crash in the housing market and the credit bubble that sparked the collapse.

Why am I so pissed off with this film? Meredith Whitney. Ms Whitney, not to put too fine a point on it, was "heralded as the oracle of the financial crisis". Michael Lewis, who wrote the book on which the movie was based (a book based on real events and real people) calls her one of the heroes of the crisis - so where is she in the film? Is she perhaps the woman in the bubble bath patronisingly explaining some of the financial concepts? Yes, there's a woman in a bubble bath...don't ask, more than that, don't go, boycott the damn thing. It's not the actresses who need a new diet, its the beast that is Hollywood - discussions about sexism around pay in Hollywood have been pushed centre-stage again but how can there be any progress if women are simply brushed out of films and, therefore (and its a logical conclusion) out of history? I'm glad actresses are refusing to play along with the manicam madness on the red carpet and support for the #AskHerMore campaign is a given but maybe its time to play tougher and boycott scripts where there's nothing but dicks on the dance floor or do a Big Short in reverse and start swapping out some of the men...

Let's start with The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde's tale of beauty, duplicity and moral undoing. Dear God, the angst! This is every woman's dream - red wine benders that leave your face unmarked, no more fear that stopping using Protect and Perfect means your face will fall off, not demanding candles as your lighting of choice. No gothic horror here - The Picture of Dora Gray would be all whimsy and butterflies.

Sticking with the classics, let's move onto Peter Pan, the boy who gave emotional immaturity a respectable face. Petra Pan, that would have been different - one look at bad boy Hook in his frilly shirt and that girl would have sped up the aging process, married him in a misguided attempt at reforming his bad behaviour and got thrown to the crocodiles in the divorce settlement as Hook danced off with Tinkerbell. I see it as a Nora Ephron film, perhaps with our heroine washing up next to Tom Hanks in Castaway for the sequel.

Let's finish with a book that really would have fared better with a heroine at the helm: Frankenstein. So much misery would have been saved if the dear Doctor had had a lighter touch with the needle and a better choice of body parts. If my female doctor was turning out transformations like this, she'd have a thriving business in no time and the science of artificial intelligence would have leapt forward centuries. I see a Nobel prize and a new role model for girls aspiring to be scientists.

So that's the rant done and the recast done, let's leave the last word to the actresses - one warning though: they're women, they're adults, they're not censored, good luck...



  1. I think it's about time Hollywood moved with the times, but while movies are making mega millions the way they are, nothing will change. #weekendblogshare

  2. I agree and it's very depressing - we seem to be in an era of token women in most big movies.

  3. I completely agree with everything you've said here, but one light at the end of the tunnel is that at least this is being talked about now. Maybe I've been hiding under a rock (I'm not much of a film buff) but it seems that until recently, nothing was ever even mentioned about films being so white and male. #weekendblogshare

  4. I think the dialogue is picking up but it seems we're going backwards to token women, very odd!


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