Sunday, June 28, 2009

Because girls only go to movies with romance in them...?

Apparently, once again, women are being told that they only go to movies for the mushy stuff. Check out this quote from David Germain's AP box office rundown:

"The sequel broadened the franchise's fan base. Females accounted for just 40 percent of the audience for the first "Transformers" but 46 percent for the sequel, (Paramount vice chairman Rob) Moore said. Much of that was due to the on-screen romance for the characters played by Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox, who were relative unknowns when the first movie came out.

Really? You really think that any more than a handful of women went to see Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen because of the thirty-seconds of romantic bantering between Megan Fox and Shia LeBeouf? Right, just like the only reason women saw 300 was because of the five-minute subplot involving the queen's attempts to rally support for her husband's army. And, don't forget Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace, which drew females only because of a female-friendly subplot involving Anakin having to say goodbye to his mother in order to run off to become a Jedi. And of course, the only reason any girl would ever go to a horror film like Scream is because they enjoy the ten-minute finale where the 'last victim' empowers herself, escapes certain death and slays/stops the murderer. No, it's not that women like getting scared and/or they enjoy blood and gore too, it's purely about female empowerment fantasy if you're a female.

All the examples above were actually punditry offered in the wake of those movies' successful box office runs (all but Scream were offered on opening weekend). God forbid we acknowledge that women often see loud, violent action adventure films and intense, gruesome horror films for the same reason that guys stereotypically see them. Some women like watching stuff get blown up. Some women like laser guns, space ships, and lightsaber sword fighting. Some women like getting scared and/or watching teenagers getting hacked to death. And yes, some women love the idea of hundreds of ripped, half-naked warriors hacking each other to pieces with swords. Some women of course like that for prurient reasons, but others still just enjoy the hack/slash carnage. On that note, just as many guys saw Transformers 2 partiallyto ogle Megan Fox, I'm sure more than a few women, young and old, went to Revenge of the Fallen in part to stare at Shia LeBeouf.

It's long since time to retire the sexist notion that women only go to movies that have 'womens' issues' or have 'feminine-friendly' subplots. Women go to movies for all kinds of reasons, many of them gender-neutral. True, some women go to movies like Transformers 2 or X-Men Origins: Wolverine because their romantic partner wants to go. And yes, some women go to such movies because they find the lead actors attractive. But it should be all-too obvious that many, if not most women who go to such movies go because they like them. They go to action films for the action, scary films for the scares, and science fiction fantasy for the science fiction fantasies. It's a pretty simple idea, but the pundits and executives still haven't figured that out.

Scott Mendelson

For more essays involving gender and the movies, try "Sex and the City and the differences between male and female escapist fantasy", "Yes, Twilight is sexist, but...", and "Chick Flicks that aren't" at Mendelson's Memos.


Glenn said...

That's ridiculous.

Jasmine said...

great blog, Scott. That is ridiculous that people still live in the stoneage with assumptions like that.

Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist! said...

spot on. I am a woman and I happen to LOVE action films! Bring it on! Guns, motorcycles, explosions, strong women, and violence! I will always admire James Cameron for creating strong, memorable female leads in his action films, while the rest of Hollywood idiots put women in crappy rom-coms and stupid movies.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about staring at Shia Lebeouf, but I do know that a number of female friends watched RotF at least in part to ogle Megan Fox. Ms. Fox's appeal, it would seem, extends across genders. =D


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