My best friends and I have been dying to see the movie The Other Woman for months. Personally, I wanted to see it as soon as the paparazzi snapped a picture of Leslie Mann with Cameron Diaz. Right away, I knew that I wanted to see this movie. Why’s that, you as? Before I even knew the plot, or who was directing the movie, or even a clip, why did I know I needed to see it? I feel like this year has been a desert for girl-driven movies in Hollywood.
Recently here and here, I’ve said that Hollywood needs to start paying more attention to women. I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve been starting to get more and more bored, and excluded, by Hollywood movies. I want so see a comedy where women are real people, not objects for some guy. I want to see an action flick where women and men work together, not where the guys do all the heavy lifting, and the girls are saved from some scary mob dude. I’m looking for a movie I can escape into, just as everyone else wants a good escape, but I want to feel included in the plot.
As someone who used to watch two or three movies a month at the movie theater, I’ve now stopped spending my twelve bucks on movies that make me feel unsatisfied and started doing better things with my time (like re-watching episodes of Parks and Recreation while plotting how I’m going to take over the world). No, but seriously, I’ve noticed that a lot of my gal pals are equally unhappy with Hollywood, and are also “voting with their wallets.”
If we’re going to be honest, I stopped going to see movies that I could tell had no strong or interesting women in an unconscious decision. But after several years of not being able to place a finger on that void I felt in many of the movies coming out every month, I realized that I had grown up and made up my mind about who I was. I had not bought Hollywood’s notion that I, as all women, was supposed to be an object or side character- the hot girlfriend, the nagging wife that cooks for the family but gets no screen time, or even the coworker that works with the male lead. And I stopped wanting to see movies where girls talk about finding Mr. Right. Instead, I realized what I wanted to see were movies with women talking about the things men talk about: everything. This is what my friends and I talk about. We don’t sit around braiding each other’s hair and plotting on how to meet cute guys. We talk about climate change, and laugh about the weird things people did at work, and say really goofy, weird things after having a more serious conversation about something important. We all work, and are as smart as the guys in our fields. We all make good money. We’re all busy, but like to find balance by spending time with our friends, family, significant others and volunteering or doing something for the less fortunate. And we spend money. Together.
We’re all old enough to know when women are being objectified, and put our money into activities that make us feel included and appreciated. While all of us grew up watching male-driven movies and shows, none of us want to see that anymore. We’ve come to see Hollywood as a business that isn’t doing so well with satisfying its customers – us. And we’re not supporting it anymore when we don’t agree with the message Hollywood sends us.
As a great Hello Giggles article put it: “Hollywood is, like Hollywood basically always has been, afraid of putting women in the driver’s seat. They’re doubly afraid of putting more women in the passengers’ seats and having a car full of women. Their excuses are tired and lame. “Women don’t go to see movies” and “Men won’t go to see movies about women.” These excuses are not only tired and lame, they also don’t work anymore. Audiences DO want to see movies with women front and center. You don’t get much more blockbuster-y than The Hunger Games and Divergent.”
I completely agree. We do want to see women in the driver’s seat, because that’s the reality of our lives. To reverse things in movies and show women as objects or side characters is an outdated way of looking at things, and it is starting to get very annoying. I know my friends and I waited to watch The Other Woman for months and months, counting down until it came out. Before that, I had only seen The Hunger Games (twice) in the movie theaters, and a handful of Indie and foreign films that portrayed more serious issues. I really wanted to watch some good action movies, but none of the ones out today looked at all appealing to me because I didn’t see the diversity I see in real life, or the men and women can be a team thing in all the Marvel movies (why are there like ten men Avengers, and only one women? BOO!) Even the new Star Wars is going to have a cast of exclusively men, except for Carrie Fisher and one new female actress. Honestly, I loved Star Wars, but this is not a way to get me back into the movie theaters. Even the Army has a higher percentage of women serving their country than Star Wars. WTF Star Wars?
The BBC pointed out: “After teasing us for months over the notion that the new Star Wars film would go against the grain in terms of casting, we still ended up with a bunch of white males with a couple of token women and a couple of actors of colour,” he said. “Abrams and company had a chance to do with Star Wars what Gene Roddenberry did for Star Trek 50 years ago, filling his main cast with actors from a variety of nationalities to showcase the melting pot that is our planet. He found it ironic that a series so influenced by Japanese samurai mythology has “basically no Japanese or Asian actors”. “We may well see a first film where John Boyega and Oscar Isaac are the co-leads among the newbies, or a situation where Daisy Ridley is the primary heroic figure. “But the more likely scenario is one where the white males are the main heroes, the actors of colour are the sidekicks, and the lone female is the girlfriend to one of the main heroes. If I end up wrong on that score, you’ll hear it here first and I will happily scream to the heavens that I was wrong.” “Hey Star Wars – Where the Hell Are the Women?” asked Annalee Newitz on io9.com. I totally agree. They’re on the wrong side of history. The world is a diverse place, where minorities are on the rise, and getting annoyed to be left out.
I’d rather see movies where men and women of all backgrounds, ethnicities and religions work as equals, i.e. not just one or two girls in a team of ten or twenty men, and a token minority thrown in to pretend that the moviemakers aren’t racist or masochistic. Because honestly, Hollywood, your record speaks for itself. And we’re not happy with it. We want equal numbers, equal treatment, respect and a voice. We don’t want to feel excluded or thrown in at the last minute because you realize that you forgot to cast a single minority or woman in your lead roles.
And that’s why I was looking forward to a little bit of change in seeing The Other Woman with my friends. As one of my friends commented to me after seeing the movie, “I liked it because all the girls are pretty, but they’re like us.” It’s true! There’s Leslie Mann’s character who’s vulnerable, goofy and persistent. There’s a smart lawyer who says “count me out” to cheating. And the twenty year old who still has a lot to learn about men but who knows that it’s a hell of a lot more fun to have good friends than screw other women over.
Of course, The Other Woman isn’t perfect. Nicki Minaj’s character (the secretary) still believes in Hollywood’s outdated version of the woman who needs a man to take care of her. And even the girls describe themselves as “the wife, the mistress and the boobs,” objectifying poor Kate Upton. Honestly, I’d prefer that Kate Upton was hot, but a little smarter, not the blond ditz they portray her as. But even in her, I see a little bit of myself: the naive girl that gets too much male attention and is trying to figure out her place in this world. Also, as NPR points out in a scathing review, The Other Woman doesn’t pass the Bechtel test. Another review agrees that Leslie Mann’s hilariousness is the real reason to see it. And I completely agree. But, keeping all this aside, I do like the overall theme of the movie: that when women stick together, we can be heard, and have a fun time achieving whatever we want.
So, go see the movie, and share what you think. Did the part where Leslie Mann got aggressive make you laugh? Oh wait, that happened like ten times. I especially liked when she had a fit of rage in her husband’s office and was trying to yank down the blinds. She’s just so tiny! We all laughed ourselves to pieces about Brain Camp, basically all of the physical comedy bits between Leslie Mann and Cam Diaz (think Cam Di trying to get Leslie into a car while Leslie Mann walks up the car drunkenly, think Leslie Mann aggressively trying to stop Cam Di from leaving by bumping her tiny little frame into her outside a cafe, and think the girls awkwardly wrestling each other on the beach until the second mistress asks them what they’re doing).
Also, my friends and I agreed that we would have preferred a more normal guy, like Paul Rudd, cast as Leslie Mann’s cute brother. The guy they cast isn’t the kind that we go for – sure he’s hot, but I prefer a nicer guy who isn’t just a hot object (Yes, Hollywood, I don’t want to objectify men, either!) Plus, he seemed like the kind of guy that would have cheated on the girls too. Just stick with Paul Rudd for every movie – he’s funny, cute and down-to-earth… and isn’t overly testosteroney and boring. What do you guys think? Did you agree with NPR (and basically all the critics who hated the movie) or did you find it enjoyable (despite some flaws)?
Please comment, share your thoughts and let me know what you think. Please help me keep this a positive forum, though. I am so excited for some debate, but let’s respect each other please. I reserve the right to monitor and delete inappropriate posts. Thanks in advance!
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