I remember when I saw the film “Bridesmaids” and how it enveloped something I had always wanted from a movie with female leads—it was funny. I have heard women cannot do comedy and it was just another moment where I felt like I could not do something because I am female.
“Bridesmaids” carried a charisma that pushed male comedies aside and forged itself a new place in comedic history while led by women.
As someone who has always secretly wished I could do stand-up comedy, this gave me a beacon of hope. It was something I could relate to, and the best part was that the film did not need to prove that women could be as hilarious as men by calling attention to it in the dialogue. It was just really funny.
Cinema is shaped, often, by the audience. One of the most talked about social issues is feminism, and this applies to Hollywood as well. As a woman in my early 20s, I can say I believe gender equality is imperative, but sometimes it goes beyond that and takes on the ugly identity of pandering, simply to appease.
When I saw “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” I was pleasantly surprised with the character Rey. She was powerful and charming, while admitting emotional vulnerabilities. She was accessible and never had to prove herself as a woman.
The same cannot always be said for other movies. A formal announcement was made about a “Ghostbusters” reboot featuring a female cast. It seems more like they put a diverse cast of women in to avoid the backlash they would have received had they cast a group of men because “women can be funny too.” This has been established, so why not be original? Because pandering takes shortcuts.
More recently, Jennifer Lawrence graced the big screen in “Joy,” a movie I had anticipated seeing since I saw the first teaser. Director David O. Russell has said he believes more in characters than in plot. The biggest argument is how much the movie fell flat when it came to storyline, and that Lawrence, as great an actress she is, is not convincing as a divorced 30 something.
Joy wears a blouse and pants, but is she really as powerful as the trailer made her out to be? Is she really this beacon of light in a time of misogyny? Maybe, but realistically, she does not resonate with the power she was intended to.
The most common complaint is about lack of female presence on executive boards. It has been said that people want more female directors at Cannes, and that none ever win Oscars. I agree to an extent, but I believe we are approaching it wrong. We need to acknowledge hard work, and just handing women an Oscar for mediocrity does not mean feminism has won. It means that we are giving in to complaints.
I want female characters who are powerful role models without proving that they did something despite being women. I want more opportunity for women to be great, but never assume their greatness just because they are women.