Friday, December 04, 2009

Women and the Box Office

In response to:

Oh, Hollywood. Hollywood, Hollywood, Hollywood. And oh, popular reporting on Hollywood. Do you really think that by providing an infinite loop of this kind of reporting that the big bad male studio execs you refer to will ever change? No, they won’t.

New Moon, The Blind Side, The Devil Wears Prada, Sex and the City, Mamma Mia, Julie and Julia, 27 Dresses, The Ugly Truth. I’m female, and I’ve seen three of these films – Mamma Mia on DVD (because I was literally forced to, by my parents), New Moon because it’s stupidly entertaining and The Ugly Truth because I mistakenly thought that Gerard Butler would make up for the shitty script.

"There's no difference in movie-going by gender; women are just as likely to go to the movies as men," the director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, Martha Lauzen, is quoted as saying. Well, good for her. The next paragraph along, however, and we get this gem: “If you give women movies reflecting their experience and interests, Lauzen says, they will go -- even on opening weekend.” Oh my gosh, go to the cinema on an opening weekend?! But I always wait a few weeks so the horrible boy smell has gone?! Puh-lease – a film doesn’t have to reflect my experience nor my interests for me to go see it, opening weekend or not. The article goes on to comment that “the movie industry always seems surprised to find out that women go to the movies” – this is true, but I think there’s a confusion here too, between films with lots of women in them, and cinemas with lots of women in them.

Another quote by Lauzen: "Women are a dramatically underserved segment of the moviegoing population, and if the industry would produce films that are not, by the way, just about shoes and clothes, but really had multidimensional female characters doing interesting things, women will go to see these movies in droves." True, and that’s all well and good, but this same article has just listed New Moon, Sex and the City and The Ugly Truth amongst recent successes – multidimensional and interesting they are not. A quote from a different commentator: "studios are run by stubborn men, so it'll take more than this to make substantial changes." While I’ve no doubt that this is true, maybe if women (and men!) stopped showing up in droves to watch drivel like The Ugly Truth (guilty, as charged, although that was a rare slip-up), then said stubborn men would stop hiring hacks (male and female) to make backward rom-coms and might instead hire more Kathryn Bigelows and Lexi Alexanders. Of course, if the same stubborn men stopped peppering their ‘man films’ (god, what a horrible turn of phrase) with semi-naked ‘actresses’, they might find more female bums on seats for those films too.

But, most of all, guess what, CNN? A hell of a lot of women go watch horror movies, too, and I’ll bet the same's true for other sorts of films. Recently an internet radio show host expressed her absolute surprise (nay, disbelief) that at least half of horror audiences are women. I’m going to go take a guess as to why that’s a surprise – because outlets like CNN don’t talk about it. They definitely do talk about The Blind Side and The Ugly Truth, though. Maybe if we celebrated and talked about women going to watch all sorts of films, then those big bad Hollywood men would think about changing their ways too.

1 comment:

Candice Frederick said...

this article just makes me laugh. i mena, come on, was there any revelation that women actually go to the movies? ridiculous and so not a newsflash. what about all those kiddie animated movies? who do you think are taking the kids to see them? MOMS! smh. though we definitely have to reiterate that females don't just watch female-driven movies. i for one don't really rush out to see the average chick flick. but i would knock a kid down in line to see the new Batman movie.