Women on Film


I too hadn’t heard of the Bechdel Test which was a tongue and cheek discussion devised by Alison Bechdel as Kermode does a better job of explaining than me. He’s not the only person to discuss the lack of women in lead roles in film today, especially coming out of Hollywood which are releasing more male heavy films. It was thought a few years ago with films such a Bridesmaids and Sex in the City there was going to be an increase in female orientated films. Sadly that didn’t come to pass. I read an article which again discussed this issue, the lack of females in film.

Just what is it that makes females so unmarketable to a wider audience? Is the subject matter too niche for a male audience, or is it that the profit margins are so healthy? I’m leaning towards the latter myself. Looking at today’s crop of actresses, I can think of more the established ones who have been around since the 1990’s who made romantic comedies which gave them work and position of power and standing to make more films, most importantly longevity.

Basinger at Wesleyan says that old studio system would find and groom young actresses, giving them roles in films that over time would build into a body of work, making stars out of them and a career. With the loss of that, the market has become more competitive, relying on agents and the profitability of the actresses last film, their track record. Plus the fact its easier to market a male orientated film.

The subject matter of female orientated films are more talky, more emotional, and about personal issues. May not be my preference, but there is an audience out there just not as big as the money makers want it to be. It seems now that actresses who once used to fight it out in films like All About Eve (1950) now take on more male roles in films like The Heat (2013). Do we really want to see women act like men, instead of being more natural in feistier films which have more substance? Only time will tell what audiences want and get from Hollywood who are more bothered about the the homogeneity of the blockbuster with so many explosions and C.G.I. sequences etc. to bring in millions of billions of dollars.

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