And so we have come to the year’s final Fangirls Around the Web, where we highlight fangirls and heroines spotted across the internet.
OK, now for the fun part: It’s easy, fast and fun to add female characters, in two simple steps. And I want to be clear I’m not talking about creating more movies with a female lead. If you do, God bless and thank you. Please consider me for that role.
Step 1: Go through the projects you’re already working on and change a bunch of the characters’ first names to women’s names. With one stroke you’ve created some colorful unstereotypical female characters that might turn out to be even more interesting now that they’ve had a gender switch. What if the plumber or pilot or construction foreman is a woman? What if the taxi driver or the scheming politician is a woman? What if both police officers that arrive on the scene are women — and it’s not a big deal?
Step 2: When describing a crowd scene, write in the script, “A crowd gathers, which is half female.” That may seem weird, but I promise you, somehow or other on the set that day the crowd will turn out to be 17 percent female otherwise. Maybe first ADs think women don’t gather, I don’t know.
And there you have it. You have just quickly and easily boosted the female presence in your project without changing a line of dialogue.
Yes, we can and will work to tell more women’s stories, listen to more women’s voices and write richer female characters and to fix the 5-to-1 ratio of men/women behind the camera. But consider this: In all of the sectors of society that still have a huge gender disparity, how long will it take to correct that? You can’t snap your fingers and suddenly half of Congress is women. But there’s one category where the underrepresentation of women can be fixed tomorrow: onscreen. In the time it takes to make a movie or create a television show, we can change what the future looks like.
Found at Time Business, Facebook COO Sharyl Sandberg points out an advertisement from Pantene that breaks down every sexist barrier in the workplace.
Beyoncé dropped a new album, and in her song “Flawless” she samples Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of the critically acclaimed novel Americanah. (via L.A. Times) Adichie’s words come from her TED talk, “We Should All Be Feminists.” It’s funny and insightful and worth the watch.
Considering 2013 is the year of Lean In and box office riches have come way of heroines, activists like Beyoncé, Sandberg, Adichie and Davis still have reasons to feel compelled to speak up. Such as the inequity in the way the MPAA assigns ratings to stories with women and sexual gratification versus men, as pointed out in IndieWire’s article about Afternooon Delight and The Wolf of Wall Street. Or the frank discussion by show creator Paul Dini about Cartoon Network’s decision to forsake female and adult audiences in favor of boy-centric stories under the premise that boys buy toys. Kevin Smith, on whose show Fatman on Batman the discussion was hosted, responded:
“So you can sell them T-shirts if they don’t—A: I disagree, I think girls buy toys as well, I mean not as many as fucking boys do, but, B: sell them something else, man! Don’t be lazy and be like, ‘well I can’t sell a girl a toy.’ Sell ‘em a T-shirt, man, sell them fucking umbrella with the fucking character on it, something like that. But if it’s not a toy, there’s something else you could sell ‘em! Like, just because you can’t figure out your job, don’t kill chances of, like, something that’s gonna reach an audi—that’s just so self-defeating, when people go, like… these are the same fuckers who go, like, ‘Oh, girls don’t read comics, girls aren’t into comics.’ It’s all self-fulfilling prophecies. They just make it that way, by going like, ‘I can’t sell ‘em a toy, what’s the point?’”
Sue at DC Women Kicking Ass best summarizes the whole idiocy of the network mindset:
Girls buy toys. Girls like superheroes. As Kevin Smith says (and you know, who thought I’d be quoting him here) just because these people can’t “figure out” their job is not a good reason to discount the majority of the population. The NFL is raking in the cash because they figure out women will buy merchandise. So did Nascar. What is Hollywood smoking that they can’t get this?
Speaking of DC Comics women who kick ass, Gal Gadot has been cast as Wonder Woman. While the New York Times op-ed page opines about the fact that we’re all still waiting on a Wonder Woman-centric movie, TheMarySue posted a breakdown of the superheroine’s fashion. Both pieces are written by men. Just saying, guys dig Diana Prince too.
In pointing out the five gamechanges of superhero movies of 2013 in his Latino Review column, Marvelous Dave calls upon a character who isn’t a superhero. Of Katniss Everdeen, he says:
The biggest thing in superhero movies this year wasn’t technically in a superhero movie at all, but is going to change the landscape even more than what I’ve listed above, and that’s the box office domination of the second in four Hunger Games films.
Catching Fire is a unique blockbuster narrative in the sense that Josh Hutcherson’s Peeta is in a recognizable position, just not for his gender. Peeta survived the first Hunger Games, even when he decided he’d sacrifice himself for the greater good that was Katniss. In the sequel, Peeta is relegated to a character archetype recognizable to us superhero-movie fans: the hero’s girlfriend.
Look back on the “strong” female characters from the past few years and you’ll see echoes the building blocks of the Peeta character: he’s not completely helpless, but his use in the plot is to get into trouble that Katniss (our hero) has to rescue him from. In a pivotal moment in the movie, Peeta disappears under the water while fighting another tribute and Katniss anxiously watches to see if Peeta will emerge victorious. We don’t see Peeta’s cool under-water wrestling because we’re in the hero’s perspective, the one that’s making us feel helpless because we can’t help Peeta, Josh Hutcherson, the male lead.
Yes, Catching Fire has no male leads except for the antagonist, Donald Sutherland’s President Snow. That means it’s crossed $675 million dollars worldwide in under three weeks without having a square-jawed international male star at the forefront and with the exception of BadAssDigest, no one seemed to realize exactly what this means for us, the fans of big tentpole superhero movies.
If you think Wonder Woman getting cast into Batman Vs. Superman is the best thing to happen to women in the superhero or blockbuster genre this year, Katniss says “no.” And Katniss is the Queen Bee of 2013 blockbuster cinema, full stop. Before the end of the year, it’s going to beat Despicable Me 2, and it’s going to out-gross Iron Man 3, even though it came out months later.
This means that the Ms. Marvel script that is sitting around Marvel HQ now can be seriously talked about and over at Warner Bros, there’s now a blockbuster formula for a movie with a female hero in the lead.
Though that’s underselling the amazing gender role subversion in Catching Fire. If Halle Berry’s Catwoman had been the highest grossing movie of that year, it’d still be a movie about one of the world’s sexiest women in a fake-leather cat suit…fighting Demi Moore. If Elektra had gone big instead of bombing, Elektra would still be the Daredevil spinoff despite her character being an assassin that shouldn’t need the shadow of a man behind her to exist on screen. Catching Fire is not only going to be the highest grossing movie of the year with a female lead, but it’s a new kind of female lead to come out of the YA genre – DIE BELLA SWAN DIE – and proof that both men and women will come out to the theaters to support a sci-fi YA story.
If we’ve been circling a female-centric superhero movie in the Heroic Era of superhero blockbusters, Katniss has announced the time has come. However, if we’re looking even further ahead than that, this is even greater news for properties like Marvel’s Runaways when the inevitable budget creep in blockbusters makes Hollywood mash superheroes and YA together.
A lot of great contributions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe took place this year and around the periphery, studios doubled-down on the hope they’ll be able to replicate that success. But outside all of that the real development took place: a message was sent to the money holders that we’re ready for a strong woman, front-and-center, male heroes be damned.
Of course, it helps that Katniss is played by the incomparable Jennifer Lawrence, AP’s Entertainer of the Year. Contributor Mary Sheridan pointed out Buzzfeed’s 51 Reasons JLaw Proved She Was Master of the Universe, including a few moments that proved she’s a fangirl just like the rest of us.
The latest Fangirls of the Day for Her Universe’s Year of the Fangirl are: Allison, Rachel, Nicci, Ana, Lauren, Lizzi, Emily, Jess, Amanda, Elizabeth, Alanna, Clara, Peggy, Carrie, Ashlee, Crystal, Carissa, Jessica, Alexandria, and Amber.
Finally, it’s always nice to see one fangirl use her talents to make another fangirl’s day. Shea Standefer stepped in to provide a piece of art for her friend Heather Burgess, who is a huge fan of the Star Wars Expanded Universe character Tenel Ka. Happy Birthday, Heather, and thanks Shea for sharing!
Tricia is putting the finishing touches on her first novel, Wynde – a military science fiction with a fantastical twist that features heroines Vespa and Gemini. For excerpts and tales of her adventures in creating a fictional universe, hop over to TriciaBarr.com.
Tricia Barr's novel, Wynde, won the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror Ebook. She was also part of Silence in the Library's successful all-female creator science fiction and fantasy anthology Athena's Daughters, which is available now. For excerpts and tales of her adventures in creating a fictional universe, hop over to TriciaBarr.com.