When I was a teenager, I remember E! television. Much of it was the same crap we all know today, gossip and awards shows and general stupidity, but there was one really good show there. Mysteries and Scandals, hosted by AJ Benza. I was addicted to that show. I admit it, I like "True" Crime, documentaries and fiction. It's why I took the Criminology elective in High School. We got to watch a lot of those as course material. The first time I saw the Hollywoodland preview on a blog, I knew I'd have to see it as soon as possible. Shortly thereafter, I learned of an upcoming Black Dahlia film.
Today, I ventured forth from my comfortable Subterranean Cave (a lair deep beneath the storm shelters of Oklahoma City) to the movie theater for a double-feature. They were both playing in the same place, and spaced far enough for a lunch break.
I do not regret the expenditure of time and money, but I left the theater saddened. Not in the good, "I just watched well-done tragic story" way. No, this was the "I was feeling down during the previews" way.
You know why? Because each movie had five previews in front of it.
Not a single preview was for a movie with a female hero.
All the King's Men, Catch a Fire and The Last King of Scotland seem to be historically based, so yes, leeway is to be given there. I think out of the three of them there were two female characters, and both was The Girlfriend/Wife type.
Man of the Year is about a comedian who was successfully elected President after campaigning as a joke. Laura Linney seems to be the female lead, his wife (who didn't vote for him). No female campaign workers or politicians of enough note to be shown in the preview.
The Prestige looks pretty damned good. 19th Century Magicians. The female lead is a girlfriend.
A Good year is an uplifting story from the viewpoint of the man who finds an exotic foreign love interest as he discovers the true meaning of life.
The Departed (which aired in front of both movies) pissed me off because it's a modern era set undercover police drama with not only no female hero, but no female cops in the background! Not even in the Academy shots!!
And then we get to the last preview, which also aired in front of both movies. It was a post-apocalyptic story where every woman on the planet is infertile (They don't mention whether the men are shooting blanks or not) and have been for eighteen years now. It seems to be about trying to get a pregnant woman from the middle of the country to the coast in a world fraught with violence and danger and desperate people, so she can go someplace safe to have her kid. It looked promising, because they show Julianne Moore coming to get the male hero and enlist him into the cause. But she's not in any of the action/travel shots. The pregnant woman is simply there as a womb, a treasure to be moved from one spot to another. But hey, Moore could still be a hero, right? Well, the overview says One Man and dashes that hope. Oh, and the title is Children of Men.
Most of these are action movies. Not a one of them stars a woman. They just have women there as part of the plot.
And the two movies that I saw? Well, they are historical/true crime fiction so of course, the leads were male.
I liked both movies, they are good movies. I like watching movies with male leads.
Just not all the time.
Remember what I said before about maybe we'd be better off if the Wonder Woman movie wasn't made?
Well, fuck that. We need that movie, and we need it now. And we need it to make a bazillion bucks so that a bunch of knockoffs get made the next year.
Because this year, we got nothing. Movies like The Devil Wears Prada. Or action movies were male-led solo movies with love interests, or team movies with weak-ass token women who surrender leadership to the attractive male loner and misogynistic villainesses. My Super-Ex Girlfriend, a movie about a fucking supervillainess who was basically a romantic interest.
We had more than this in the 90s. We had a few kickass action heroines. Ellen Ripley, anyone? Sarah Connor? Hell, even those stock horror movie girls like Nieve Campbell and Jennifer Love Hewitt were tough as nails and the story was centered on them. It should have grown from there. The cliches should have been smoothed out, the disrespectful parts should have been fixed. It should have gotten better. We should have more than we had then.
I shouldn't see ten previews without a single female lead. That's just not right.
(And Hollywoodland? Bring tissues.)