Thursday, July 18, 2013

I want to see more female protagonists in the movies

Am I getting smarter, or are movies just getting dumber? Probably the latter, but either way, this summer has been pretty disastrous in terms of Hollywood movies. The two that I've seen recently, Man of Steel and World War Z, were damn stupid. And not in that fun Independence Day sort of way. I mean stooopid in a way that severely limits your ability to enjoy yourself.

For example, *SPOILERS*, in Man of Steel, General Zod seems like a 10-year old's idea of what a villain should be. All he needed was a "KNEEL BEFORE ZOD, MWAHAHAHAHA!" to put the cherry on top. And that female Kryptonian baddie delivered one of the most shockingly bad lines I've ever heard when she said to Superman in the middle of a fight, "Your need to empathize gives me an evolutionary advantage!"

Wow, seriously? That's the kind of stuff you'd expect from a poorly dubbed kung fu movie.

And in World War Z, the brilliant doctor whom Brad Pitt is supposed to accompany on his cure-finding mission dies in such a ridiculous way that I couldn't take the movie seriously afterwards. Actually, when we were first introduced to the doctor, who happened to be South Asian, I was thinking, 'Finally! We're gonna see a brown heroic character in a big blockbuster. This is kind of amazing.'

Silly me for forgetting the "Brown people can only be villains" rule
But of course, he dies before the mission even starts when he slips and falls on his gun, shooting himself. Time for Brad Pitt to reluctantly save the world!

It's no secret that Hollywood just sucks these days, and it's a widely accepted fact that TV has long surpassed movies in terms of artistic credibility and prestige. What's on the horizon anyway? The Wolverine? Thor 2? The Smurfs 2? Ho hum.

Hey Hollywood, since this whole schtick of yours isn't working that hot anymore, how about we switch things up? I, for one, would love to see more female-centered movies. A 2011 study found that women only made up 11% of main characters in the movies ( ELEVEN PERCENT? That's ridiculous.

Some of the best film storytellers today like James Cameron and Hayao Miyazaki often choose to center their works around female protagonists because they believe that girls and women make for more interesting characters.

Shizuku, the heroine of "Whisper of the Heart", one of my favourite
movies of all time

I think it's a little patronizing and exotifying to say that females in all their mystical ooh-la-la femininity are just inherently more fascinating than men. But from the sheer fact that there just aren't that many heroines in our media, a female protagonist is indeed more interesting due to scarcity.

And I am not just saying all this because I had huge crushes on Pippi Longstocking and Anne of Green Gables when I was young. Okay, maybe that has something to do with it.

My first love
I just want to see some good and interesting movies for a change. And right now, you know what's boring as hell? Watching a bunch of generic brodudes fight superhumans in "climactic" battles with incredibly low stakes since they're both practically invincible. Or watching a bunch of sensitive generic brodudes have their self-pitying lives turned around by girls who fall in love with them for some reason.

Also, this is a relevant topic for this blog because people often rationalize the dumbing down of movies by pointing to the ever-increasing international market. Korea happens to be an important international market, and it's normal now for Hollywood stars to make the long trans-Pacific journey all the way here to promote their films.

So in essence, they're saying it's Asia and Latin America's fault that Hollywood movies have become so formulaic and tired. Well, you know how those people are. All they want to do is gawk at explosions and boobs. They don't know how to appreciate cultural nuance or well-written characters.

Well, I went to see Before Midnight a few weeks ago, and the theatre was pretty packed.

It reminds me of how Hollywood also uses the international market to justify not casting minorities in lead roles. You see, it's EUROPE's fault because Europeans are so nasty and racist that they simply won't tolerate seeing a Black man or woman in a lead role. Unlike enlightened Hollywood, who's just dying to inject some diversity into its movies but can't because Europe/Asia/Latin America.

Hollywood would be so open-minded if it weren't for those damn
international movie-goers!

I understand that the film industry is in very tough times now with the collapse of the DVD market. But it pisses me off when they essentially blame the rest of the world for the sexism and racism in their movies. Because Hollywood doesn't already have a long and proud domestic history of that, right?

Some people might criticize me for being too hung up on gender and race, and that the bigot here is ME because I'm the one seeing race and gender when we should all live in a post-everything world.

All right, so if all that doesn't matter, how about we make almost every movie about women and their concerns? And most roles for men will be as one-dimensional love interests or plot devices to further the development of these female protagonists. And all of these men will be Black, Latino, or Asian. And the only time we'll ever see White men are as repugnant and negatively stereotypical comic relief.

I wonder if the same people will continue to insist to let movies just be movies, and to stop "overthinking" everything.

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