Monday, May 5, 2014

What's Wrong With This Picture?

It looks like there are only 3 women in the cast of the new Star Wars movie. In fact I'm not even sure if that woman in the foreground is in the cast. She might be one of the producers (informed readers can set me straight on this, perhaps.) JJ Abrams is a hip, modern, PC leftie director living in Hollywood so why this 1970's throwback nonsense for the new Star Wars movie? The original Star Wars was quite innovative for the time, casting Carrie Fisher as a spunky, tough, sarky leader of the rebels. Is Abrams' heart in the right place? Possibly not. Few of us can forget the sexism of the last Star Trek movie and even though Abrams has been working on this script for the last year this is the best that he can do? This is a prima facie failure of the Bechdel Test. Contrary to popular belief science fiction is not a genre for boys. Many of the greatest and most interesting sci-fi writers have been women. The film Alien set the benchmark for a tough female sci-fi protagonist and although Ridley Scott's Prometheus was a horrible movie at least they had a cast full of strong and opinionated women. As a father of 2 girls who faces an uphill struggle to get them interested in the shit I was interested in as a kid I'm really ticked off at this.    

32 comments:

Cary Watson said...

Hear, hear! I don't think Abrams appreciates how much teenage girls and young women are into SF. My daughter's 27 and she and her female peers wouldn't touch a rom-com with a barge pole, but they gobble up anything SF or comic book related. It seems Abrams hasn't been paying attention to the success of the Hunger Games franchise. Of course, even Star Wars became laddish in the end; after the first film all the major new characters introduced in the films were male. The only exception, and it was an unfortunate one, was Natalie Portman's dreary princess character.

seana graham said...

There was an interesting article on Slate about a similar issue when it came to the recent hit series True Detective. It's not spoilerish so far as I can tell, and you can find it HERE. But it's premise is encapsulated in one sentence:

"When it comes to prestige TV, there has yet to be a downside to out-bro-ing yourself."

For a non bro-mance that is at least mildly science-fiction, I am really liking Orphan Black, which may only have one woman star, but you forget that because she plays so many people.

John McFetridge said...

Movies have never really recovered from HUAC and the Hayes commission. It's too bad because for a while there in the 30s (the era of movies Star Wars harkened back to) it looked like things would be different.

When Star Wars was first released one of my friends insisted on showing us as many 30s serials as he could get hold of and even as teenaged boys we noticed the difference in female characters from what we saw in the 1950s movies.

And then we were kind of shocked how Raiders of the Lost Ark was really just the Mask of Fu Manchu but we were told that's what an "homage" is....

adrian mckinty said...

Cary

Natalie Portman's character was ridiculous. But that was all George Lucas and his vision. This is a script that they've been honing through many many rewrites and they must have had many opportunities to rethink the basic gender dynamic, but they didnt. Absurd. Even Hunger Games and Divergent didnt convince them that this wd equate to dollars...

adrian mckinty said...

Seana

My wife told me that there was an angry review in the New Yorker about True Detective basically accusing the show of outright misogyny, but I've given up reading the New Yorker so I didnt catch it.

adrian mckinty said...

John

Its extraordinary to think now that in the 1930s the really big stars were all women. Its bizarre that even the famous Hollywood directors such as K Bigelow make films about men.

At least in the UK there's Joanna Hogg and Andrea Arnold who make interesting films about women. And in the US there's Kelly Reichardt. But none of them will ever get to helm a Hollywood movie.

adrian mckinty said...

Yup as I predicted Adams was released without charge

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/may/04/gerry-adams-to-be-freed-without-charge

He almost certainly ordered the murder of Mrs McConville but he's too important to the Brits and the police ever to be taken down. Hell, for all I know, the IRA conspiracy theorists may be right in saying that since that late 70's he's been an MI5 agent. Either way the NYT piece got it all wrong: the Brits dont want to bring him down, the Brits want to protect him...

seana graham said...

I think men can be drawn in to stories about relationsbetween men and sometimes between men and women, but not so much women and women unless they're of an obviously erotic nature. While women are pretty interested in relationships of all kinds. Big generalization, probably sexist, but there it is. Maybe when all the scientists and astronauts and Supreme Court justices are women, they'll have less interest in what makes men tick. But I won't be around to see that.

seana graham said...

Oh, and I'm still going with my too big to fail theory on Adams, because I think Winnie Mandela did fall into disrepute to a degree that Adams likely won't.

adrian mckinty said...

Seana

Yes "too big to fail" is a good analogy. Everyone in N Ireland knew Adams was never going to be charged.

If I was in the McConville family I'd probably just try to assassinate him. Of course the conspiracy theorists wd blame the unionists and a successful assassination wd probably lead to civil war. Sean Duffy's probably not alive in 2014 but if he was that wd be his kind of case, prove that the one of the sympathetic family members did it to prevent a blood bath.

adrian mckinty said...

Seana

This column is pretty typical of the wrong headed approach of the New York Irish influenced media:

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/hamill-sinn-fein-leader-gerry-adams-ireland-arrest-political-scam-article-1.1778661

He gets more or less everything exactly wrong.

seana graham said...

Yes, I suspect there will be material for another Sean Duffy for some time to come, so you can bring him back whenever you want.

seana graham said...

Reading the article, I can see that there would have to be fingerprints on the gun that shot her to change some minds, and there will never be those.

The thing that the article reminds me of though that was also mentioned on Chris Hayes' show is the fact that these interviews were given under the assumption of anonymity for the sake of a history project, not for legal purposes. It would make me think twice about ever talking about that past if the British government is so successful at getting hold of one's statement.

adrian mckinty said...

Seana

Should we care about protecting the anonymity of people who dragged a woman out of her house in front of her screaming children, tortured her for two days and then shot her?

Alan said...

Adrian,If I were a citizen of Northern Ireland I would seriously question any and all association with the U.K. which truly has unclean hands in this whole sordid affair.If the" Banks and Wall Street" manipulators are given a free pass in America, the British have almost trumped the U.S. in pulling another "Indian Partition" and leaving the collateral damage to fall as it may.Sean where are you now that we need you? Game Of Thrones has nothing on British duplicity when it comes to Ireland and Ulster.timely .Best Alan

adrian mckinty said...

Alan

Scottish style Home Rule for Ireland in 1912 wd have saved a lot of bloodshed. But dont blame the British. Thats what the British government wanted. It was Carson and his ilk who demanded partition.

adrian mckinty said...

Alan

Scottish style Home Rule for Ireland in 1912 wd have saved a lot of bloodshed. But dont blame the British. Thats what the British government wanted. It was Carson and his ilk who demanded partition.

seana graham said...

I think the anonymity is more for the sake of innocent people who might be witnesses and but won't speak now.

adrian mckinty said...

Seana

Well the McConville family know who kidnapped their mother and often see them in the street but they've been told if they ever finger Adams or the kidnappers they and/or their children will be murdered. That particular juicy tidbit is never going to make a column by Maureen Dowd or Denis Hammill.

seana graham said...

It's an interesting point in favor of reading Northern Irish crime fiction, not just yours but Stuart Neville and Colin Bateman and David Park, that we fans perhaps understand the dynamics at play better than the New York columnists do in this case.

Alan said...

Adrian,I wonder how young men in N.I. View their future in a country held ransom by gunmen whose bloody past seems far from distant.If the PSNI is to function how can it do so held at the jugular by Adams and his IRA colleagues.I guess much migration of both denominations will occur before "the demographic time bomb" explodes.I hope your family is safe from these violent lunatics?Best Alan.

adrian mckinty said...

Seana

That's true. Fiction explains in a way that non fiction can't, especially to people whose minds arent exactly open.

adrian mckinty said...

Alan

Touch wood everyone's fine. But we've all had a few run ins in the past. Stuff that I'd rather not elaborate on in a public forum...

adrian mckinty said...

Seana

BTW it was John's mate who invented Orphan Black.

Anne said...

I really can't believe an IRA commander could be so stupid as to think that the brutal abduction of a mother of ten in front of her children and killing her could ever be seen as justifiable, even by his own supporters.
What has also always puzzled me was the turn-around in Paisley's attitude to peace talks with the IRA - how did that come about?

adrian mckinty said...

Anne

Its a mystery to me too. Dr No suddenly became Mr Yes. Legacy? An old man coming to terms with the future?

seana graham said...

Regarding Orphan Black, that is so cool--Graeme Manson or John Fawcett.

They were incredibly lucky to have found Tatiana Maslany. Unless it was written for her versatility, which would make sense.

John McFetridge said...

Seana, I was lucky enough to work with both Graeme and John on "The Bridge." It's possible some of the time spent on the payroll for that show went to developing "Orphan Black..."

They worked together before on a TV movie about a young woman with a gambling addiction (that's a lot better than it sounds ;)). It was originally called "Lucky Girl," but I think it goes by a different title now.

I don't know if they had a particular actor in mind but I would say they were determined to write a show with a strong female lead (we complained a lot in the writers' room for "The Bridge" about the lack of good female characters. You'd think it would have been up to us to do something about that but let's just say showrunners have a lot of control...).


seana graham said...

I don't remember particularly about the female lead part, John, but I do remember you talking about the way the premise got watered down and overridden.

I hope you all can team up again with a little more clout. That would be great.

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