I love you, but piss off.
2011 seems to be the year of self-indulgent masculine cinema. We’re prizing dramatic pieces where Ryan Gosling drives fast cars and stomps heads open like melons, where Joseph Gordon-Levitt weeps over a tumor in his spine, where Brad Pitt screws around with a baseball team.
And I want them all to piss off.
I’m sick of watching stories about men. I’m sick of men being the heroes in so called intelligent, mainstream cinema. I’m sick of watching women scream in the backseats of cars as men drive them to safety, only to watch that woman’s head get blown off.
I’m sick of stories about men, just being men, doing man things, acting like their stories are important, and deep, and meaningful, without adding anything really meaningful to the popular consciousness. Lately, going to the movies has been like sitting in a frat house, because all of these so-called brilliant films are just dudes telling stories that they think are sweet.
Society can’t progress if our stories are this imbalanced. We can’t move forward if the narratives we prize cannot be more than they are, which lately, is just a bunch of stuff about the lives of men.
This year, Women got Bridesmaids, one of the funniest films I have ever seen, and The Help — but as far as I can see, these were the only well made, well-funded, critically supported Hollywood films made about women in 2011. I gathered some data from Box Office.com and Rotten Tomatoes about the 116 top grossing films of 2011 (thus far) and ran some numbers on them. The only criterion was that the film had to be about at least one woman. Of these 116 films, 14 were made about women. Of these 116 films, 3 were original scripts, the rest were adapted from books or graphic novels. When I averaged the critical Rotten Tomatoes ratings for these films, it came out at 41%. Basically, in 2011, a handful of movies got made about women, and the ones that did sucked a lot of ass.
Screw you Hollywood. You can do better. You have so much money. You have women writing brilliant scripts. Do better.
Stop making movies based on the books my mom’s book club likes. Stop adapting bad chick lit novels and making them worse. Make good movies. Make dramatic movies that leave us with something to think about.
Do you know what I want? I want Natalie Portman to play Ryan Gosling’s character in Drive. I want a Hillary Rodham Clinton biopic. I want a movie like Sucker Punch that empowers instead of subjugates. Make those movies Hollywood. Put money into them. Hire competent directors and beautiful cinematographers.
I’m not saying these movies will be deeper, or better, or more meaningful, I’m just asking you to find a way for women to exist in popular cinema, as they do in the real world. Give women real characters to play. Give then unique, well-made stories and we’ll go see them. Believe in Women. It’s 2011, for christ’s sake.