Hi there. My name is Ryan. This will be a bit difficult for me getting going because as Katie pointed out earlier, I will be bringing the male perspective to this blog, so I kind of feel like a fish out of water. Honestly, though, my ideology is more or less the same as everyone else who writes here, so I don't foresee any problems. Now then. On to the matter at hand.
For my all important first post, I decided to comment on some statistics I cam across through another entertainment blog. Essentially, it breaks down the top twenty grossing films of the past four years, the top grossing films since 1977, and the films that were voted the twenty best of all time over at the Internet Movie Database. It goes on to analyze the gender of the two top billed stars in each film, and breaking it down by male/male, male/female, female/male (in which the female is the main protagonist), and female/female. On the entire list, only two--yes, two--films were centered around two female leads: the vastly overrated and patronizing The Devil Wears Prada, and the horrifically offensive and inisipid Scary Movie 4, both of which were released in 2006. Compare that to the 10+ male/male films from each year alone.
I'm still trying to wrap my brain around this. And when I do, it sounds really awful. Looking at last year, for example, the highest grossing film was Spider-Man 3, which I'm going to go out on a limb and call male/female, despite the fact that it's a comic book movie, which generally appeals to a male demographic. In my mind, this further skews these results. If you're curious to see the actual top 20's from each year, they can be found here.
Just an observation, most of the films directed or written by women in the past few years have failed miserably both with critics and audiences. Hell, any female-centered film easily gets brushed off as a chick flick that men are forced to sit through until the big action films come out each summer. And when a genuinely good film with intelligent female characters as the focus gets release, there is a backlash against it. Say... oh, I don't know... Juno, for example. A very good film that was admittedly not without its flaws, one of which was the often hokey dialog. But what bothered me a bit was how people took that one flaw, blew it out of proportion, ran with it, and tried to ruin the film's success.
A more classic example would be Thelma & Louise, one of those rare female/female films. Right off the bat, it was dubbed as neo-feminist propaganda and thrown under the bus by a male-dominated movie industry. Movies made about men who kill others by brutal means are often hailed as cinematic heroes, whereas a movie about two women on the run after one of them shoots and kills a man who was in the process of raping her is just preposterous and dangerous.
It's no secret that Hollywood has not been kind to women through the years. We've all heard the stories of young actresses sleeping their way to the top or undressing at their auditions to give the casting agent a little more incentive to hire them. While advances have been made on that front in the sense that these stories are less prevalent than they used to be, it seems that the overall mentality of the industry hasn't changed.
I can't explain it, but for some reason, the American movie-going audience likes really stupid movies about men (save for a few, of course). It's sort of a vicious cycle. These films have traditionally done well, whether people consciously pay attention to the gender of the main actors or not. As such, studios get lazy and start greenlighting garbage like Catch & Release and Because I Said So, movies even my mom disliked. The majority of the movies made by women, about women, and for women are lazy attempts to quell a testosterone-dominated market. Here's another tidbit: most of the very top grossing films from each year about tough guys blowing shit up.
There's a domino effect, and maybe most of it has to do with the overall lack of taste of most Americans. Nevertheless, it's a sad trend, not so much because it'll cause more summer blockbusters to be made, but rather because it'll cause fewer and fewer quality female-centric films to be made. And when they do get released, I am hard-pressed to go to one and not be called gay by every person that I tell about it. Goddamn it, if I want to watch a movie about a Lebanese beauty salon and the trials its patrons go through, then I'm going to see it. End of story. Enjoy your crappy Speed Racer.
Here's to hoping there's a bit more diversity at the cinema in 2008.