Thursday, March 29, 2012

Producer is Afraid Female-Centered Films will Take Over Box Office

Producer Chris Moore has been arguing with fans on facebook in an attempt to get more people to buy tickets to the latest installment in the American Pie franchise.

He says “I do not want teen age girls owning the boxoffice. No ofense [sic] to them, I am rasing [sic] a beautiful one myself, but if the only movies that make any dough are twilight and hunger games than that is all you are going to see ....”
The man has a teenage daughter, and still apparently doesn’t care about the lack of films that portray women in a positive light. I hope he will take his daughter to see Hunger Games, and rejoice with her that this rare film offers a strong, young female lead, and a plot driven by survival over romance. Heaven forbid that teenage girls (and boys) are subjected to movies with engaging female characters!

Anita Sarkeesian is a feminist pop culture media critic whose video column, Feminist Frequency, Conversations with Pop Culture addresses just this issue in a wonderful piece on the 2011 Academy Award nominees for Best Picture.
Sarkeesian uses the Bechdel test, a concept conceived by comic writer Alison Bechdel to satirize the lack of significant female characters in film by using ridiculously low measures to determine the relevance of female characters to a movie plot.  

According to Sarkeesian, the Bechdel test has three requirements:
  1.  The movie must have 2 (or more) female characters. 
  2. Who have names.
  3. And who talk to each other-- about something other than a man.

By this measure, only 2 (The Descendents and The Help) of the nine best pictures nominees in 2011 passed the Bechdel test, and 2 others received questionable passes because the encounters are so brief—5 and 11 seconds for Hugo and Midnight in Paris respectively. As Sarkeesian points out, the Bechdel test sets the bar embarrassingly low for women in film, and the vast majority of movies still fail.

Mr. Moore, I recently viewed the documentary Miss Representation about the damage caused by the under and misrepresentation of women in the media.  Hollywood is geared to the American Pie franchise’s target audience of young men. You really don’t have to worry about studios not funding the films that seem to be your bread and butter.

What you do need to worry about is the way your daughter (and all young women and men) are taught by the media to view and treat women.

Mr. Moore, I implore you to do three things:

  1. Watch the clip referenced above about the Bechdel test.
  2. Take your daughter to see Miss Representation. And talk with her about the way women are minimized by the media.
  3. Take your daughter to see The Hunger Games.

And while you're there, buy the kid some popcorn, and sit back and enjoy a movie that centers around a strong, female character. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised that there are enough explosions to satisfy even your demographic.