Tag Archives: superheroes

Women in Action 2017-2018: Preamble

So 2017 was a year, wasn’t it?

Six years ago, I started looking at how actresses were advancing and not advancing in movies in terms of the big star parts in big budget and high status films, mainly action, suspense, SFFH and action comedy. Women have been frequently blocked from major roles in those films, especially having fewer opportunities to be the lead role, as well as kept as much as possible from working behind the camera. (Women make up only about 12% of the directors for film in the main English language market.) They’re paid considerably less than their male counterparts, as people have been made aware, even though on average they have a more reliable track record for bringing in profitable box office. They are given fewer lines of dialogue than male actors, even when they’re in the lead role, and often fewer action things to do, even though women performing action and fight work has increased overall.

When I began doing this, in 2012, that was something of a turning point year for women movie stars in high profile action, so much so that the media actually noticed and called it rather optimistically the “Year of the Women.” The question was then, would that momentum build or sputter out. The answer seems to be that over the recent years the momentum did build, leading to gains for women actors. But an acceleration of women’s roles doesn’t mean that the increase is going particularly fast, given from where it started. For women, it has been a continual slow process of trickle, trickle erosion in what they are allowed to do, and most importantly, how often they’re allowed to do it, and how their participation is viewed in the industry.

In Hollywood, the (mostly white) men who still run most of the film dream factory are heavily focused on their status, on how other men see them, to bolster their position in their jobs. They are thus deeply invested in the idea that (mostly white) male actors are better for big action films, more competent and more popular, leading to a system that also sees men as better at doing the production and financing of movies (and thus reducing the competition in their field.) For Hollywood executives, even the women ones, an action movie with a female lead that does well has less status than working and hanging with a male movie star. The status of male movie stars is also carefully propped up with higher pay, and bigger budgets and wider promotion for their films, even though costly flops are not uncommon. To keep that system of male bonus points and high status going, Hollywood still tries as much as possible to treat women either as exploitable gophers (on the production side,) or replaceable eye candy (as actresses.) Hollywood brands action movies that don’t do as well with women leads as evidence that all actresses can’t carry franchises reliably, while successes of women-led movies are often dismissed as having only niche appeal and/or being flukes.

But there is eventually a limit to how much your status bonus points can get you versus actually producing real money in Hollywood. If one studio makes a woman-led action picture that does well, there is pressure on other studios to try to do woman-led films like the hit one. While global audiences have become essential for big movies, it’s often very unreliable (and not really hostile to women either,) and so domestic U.S. box office is still a concern — and the biggest group going to movies in the theaters in the U.S. are the women. The more women-led action films there are that do well, the less convincing the business arguments that women can’t bring in reliable box office and handle franchises, that they’re niche and narrow in appeal, sounds to people. Actresses continue also to leverage the star power they do have to form their own production companies and launch projects featuring themselves and other women off the ground, a number of them doing very well. So while things are still slow and Hollywood tries to block women – and itself – with as much foot-dragging as possible, at this point the industry would be hard-pressed to try to turn back time and keep women from the big roles and action pictures, even if it wanted to do so.

But star power and the lure of money weren’t the only things that had an impact on the industry with regards to women this last year. For a very long time, women and others have been trying to improve the workplace conditions in the industry, specifically with regards to sexual abuse and harassment of workers, which are endemic to it, particularly in targeting and controlling women. Such abuse is not only traumatic and often criminal, it discriminates against women, helps depress their salaries, and drives many of them out of the business altogether. The horrible case of Bill Cosby, everybody’s dad whose history of serial rapes got amplified media attention and legal prosecution in recent years, not only drew focus to sexual abuse in the industry but showed that media, the courts and the public might now sometimes start to listen if victims banded very publicly together. This came to a boil in the subsequent case of influential producer Harvey Weinstein in 2017, who really should be in jail along with half the people who worked for him. The fact that Weinstein’s victims were also so numerous and that many of them were high profile actresses whose careers he tried to ruin caused the media endless fascination, and from there the boulder rolled – directors, screenwriters, actors, and further ripples in every industry from tech to the government.

The reverberations are still going on, including a few court cases and a smattering of firings. In Hollywood’s case, it ripped the lid off of just how bad the industry remained. And this has caused some surface changes in the business that may run deeper, given that an entire woman’s movement is blazing through the industry like a tornado. Hollywood is promoting its women-led movies a lot harder, it’s facing an army of actresses on pay inequality and professional treatment, and it’s finding its facile excuses for its discriminatory system and for only slowly changing that system to be constantly challenged. It’s too early to know if large changes are really going to happen from all this, especially given the current government in the U.S. But it has given a special significance to the women-led movies that came out in 2017 and a white hot spotlight on women actors and women-led big movies for 2018.

So let’s take a look at the tumultuous year of 2017 for women in the movies and where things are going in 2018.

 

 

Death of the Female Movie Star? We’re Just Getting Started, Part 1

Death of the Female Movie Star? We’re Just Getting Started, Part 2 (2011/2012)

How Are You Ladies Doing? (mid-year 2012)

It’s Time for Women in Film (2012/2013)

The Female Movie Star Lives in 2014, Yearly Update, Part 1 (2013 review)

The Female Movie Star Lives in 2014, Yearly Update, Part 2 (2014 preview)

Women in Film, Part 1: 2014 Review

Women in Film, Part 2: 2015 Preview Analysis

Women in Film Take the Stage, Part 1: 2015 Review

Women in Film Take the Stage, Part 2: 2016 Preview Analysis

Women In Film — Part 1: 2016 Review

Women In Film — Part 2: 2017 Analysis

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Filed under Movies/TV, Social Equality, Women

That Was An Autumn, That Was

A lot of stuff happened this fall, including a complete computer meltdown situation. But I am happy, healthy (now,) safe, and can’t complain. So while I dust once again and find the candy cane ornaments, enjoy this violent but funny video from College Humor called Batman vs. Penguin and guest starring Patton Oswalt:

 

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A Little Cool Art

Comics and graphics artist Nate Hallinan has come up with an interesting series of artworks of the Marvel X-Men characters in an alternate, secondary world medievalish fantasy universe. It’s called, appropriately enough, Medieval X-Men: The Order of X.

Here is the one for Xavier. It looks very much like Patrick Stewart, who played Professor X in some of the X-Men films. The others, however, look rather different from their modern comics selves, with interesting results. He’s written up bios for these alternate characters. Definitely art worth checking out (he’s still working on the series.)

Nate Hallinan, Medieval X-Men

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Some Funnies for the Day

Supernatural new fall season promo:

A collage of Vime videos from a dad who will eventually be taken out by his wife — Batdad! :

Monty Python and The Holy Grail is one of the true classics of comedy film. But what if it weren’t sold as a comedy, but as a modern fantasy action thriller? A parody rejiggered trailer for the movie (Eric Idle of Python saw it and said that it was wonderful):

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J. August Richards Knows the Drill — Geek T.V. (MTV) Interview on Upcoming S.H.I.E.L.D. t.v. series

I made a vow that I would try to not add any of the new t.v. shows this coming season to my roster. Which lasted only very briefly once it came out that Joss Whedon was executive producing and initially writing with his team a spin off t.v. show from the Marvel movies called Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., that Clark Gregg would be reprising his role as Agent Coulson on the show (despite that character having died in the film The Avengers,) and finally that J. August Richards, best known as Charles Gunn in Whedon’s show Angel, would be having a role.

Richards has appeared on shows  like Warehouse 13, The Mentalist and Arrow since his legal show, Raising the Bar ended, but has also been busy doing his own projects, such as the short films Private Policy and The Hypnotist, which was shown at the recent Denver Comic Con. While he was in Denver, he was interviewed by MTV’s Geek T.V. about the new series. It’s not very informative, given that Richards is under a cone of silence, (his own involvement in the show was kept quiet for a long time,) but it’s funny. (Link below as it will not let me embed the video.) And we get him back regular on t.v., so I’m happy about that. It’s a reminder to me not to make vows. 🙂

http://geek-news.mtv.com/2013/06/06/j-august-richards-on-who-hes-playing-in-marvels-agents-of-s-h-i-e-l-d/

 

 

 

 

 

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Videos with Funky Perspective

A wealth of superhero lore in a look at what The Avengers might look like if done in 1978, The Avengers ’78 Promo:

A song mash up that follows the arcs of superhero stories, Movies that Come to the Rescue:

A video that offers all the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition stated on episodes of the show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:

 

 

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Well, He is a Dark Hero

 

Yes, Batman got stopped by the cops in my old homebase, Montgomery County, Maryland. Apparently he took his Batmobile out for a spin without a proper rear license plate and tags, having a Batman symbol plate instead. He was let off with a warning. (Just because you’re a vigilante superhero doesn’t mean you are above the traffic laws.) In this particular case, the Dark Knight was Batman impersonator Lenny B. Robinson, on his way to visit some kids in the hospital in his black Lamborghini convertible turned Batmobile.

You can just imagine the call in to the police station by the cops on highway patrol: “We’ve got Batman in the Batmobile and he doesn’t have any rear tags. Can we stop him please, please, please? And somebody bring a camera.” Yep, that’s right. The photo above and others, including of officers posing with Batman, were taken by the Montgomery County  cops and put up on their station Facebook page. And that’s how Batman avoids a ticket, boys and girls.

 

 

 

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