Recently, I came across an article on Women and Hollywood regarding a survey Fandango did that looked at women’s movie-going habits. Women have often been an untapped market in both movies and comics. “The industry” often claims it knows what sells to which market, namely action movies for boys and romantic comedies for girls. This data thankfully pokes holes in that theory.
Some data highlights:
- The majority of women surveyed chose action movies (with 22% of the vote) as their favorite movie genre, while only 9% chose romance or romantic comedy as their favorite genre.
- 82% are more inclined to see a movie with dynamic female characters.
- 75% prefer to watch movies with diverse casts
- 77% contend that female characters are often stereotyped in blockbusters.
- 75% would like to see more female ensembles in the movies.
- 62% feel that women are not equally represented in big screen roles.
This survey highlights some of what we ladies have known all along. We love action movies or a good Hollywood blockbuster. We also want more of them with diverse casts, especially female-led ones. We want to be able to see ourselves in these female characters. That means well-developed characters, complete with flaws, who are not fridged or victimized. Bonus points for not filtering that character though the male gaze.
The recent success of movies like Wonder Woman and Black Panther hopefully drives home the points from this survey as movie-goers vote with their feet and wallets. There have also been earlier films that paved the way and gave action movie loving women something either enjoy and inspiration to future film makers. I’ve always loved these types of movies, so here are some of my favorites.
This week, I am adding another name to our roster of Kickass Fictional Ladies. Click here if you are interested in checking out our past inductees into this prestigious group.
I realize this is a no-brainer for those of us who have been watching Game of Thrones this season, but let’s be honest, she’s been getting a lot of buzz lately. Why? Because she is just so great for so many reasons. And here are just a few of them:
She is honorable: I know that some of the most intriguing characters are villians or of questionable morality, but I love Brienne because she just wants to do good in the world. I have really been won over by her desire to be a great knight and truly devote her life to one of honor. Sansa Stark turns down her first offer of protection and yet Brienne is so good to her word and the promise she gave to Lady Stark that she simply doubles down on her efforts and waits to find Sansa so she can offer her protection a second time. And yet, during this chase after Sansa, Brienne never oversteps her boundaries. She is never unnecessarily threatening and strives to make her behavior a model for others. Brienne has a lot to prove and that drive and earnestness make her just wonderful to watch. You want great things to happen for her because she has worked hard enough to deserve them. Also, thanks to some recent info from Martin, I dare say that her noble spirit is even in her blood.
She is a complete character: In my travels, I have run across the misconception that in order for a female character to be considered “good” (translation: feminist) she must be strong and perfect. The thing is that while there are many versions of women characters out there who are strong, they can’t hold a candle to Brienne for the simple reason that when a character’s only trait is that she is strong, she is also flat. I love Brienne because mixed in with her strength is a believable vulnerability. She makes mistakes, she worries about doing the right thing, and she cares so much more than she is probably willing to admit. A strong female character is great and gives us ladies something to enjoy and in some ways look up to. But a strong female character who can also be seen as human, is not only someone we can look up to, but also relate to. And trust me, it is much more powerful to be inspired by someone who has overcome a lot of the same challenges you have yourself. It’s OK if you need to work at it, because so does Brienne.
Positive body image: Brienne of Tarth is played by the charming and gorgeous Gwendoline Christie. This is important because Brienne’s body is the real body of Christie. Christie has found herself experiencing a lot of the same hardships that Brienne does when she encounters other’s expectations of conventional beauty and feminism. Christie is naturally 6’3″ and has openly discussed her own body image issues and how she has been able to use her own life experiences to influence her performance as Brienne.
Christie was so inspired by Brienne’s story that she took it upon herself to learn about Brienne’s quest to be a knight by experiencing it herself. This means that she not only trained in sword-fighting and riding before starting her role, but she gained a decent amount of muscle to make her body fit the character even more accurately. Remember what I said about devotion? Seems like Christie was born to play this part.
I realize that I might be preaching to the choir here, but I think it’s ok to just bask in the glow of something you love for a while. And that is what I’ve decided the comments section to sharing the love (or not if you have a reasonable argument). Have at it then!