Female roles need to be taken more seriously


Rae Updike, Reporter

Walking into the theater two years ago to see the new film “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” I made my way to my seat and waited for the lights to dim, signaling the start of the film. As it progressed through the first couple minutes, the film revealed a certain feature I hadn’t exactly experienced through the many films I’d seen before: the main character Rey wasn’t dolled up or put in unrealistic clothing, as Hollywood tends to do to movies, which has crippled my personal view of the overall films. Not to mention, the presence of other females in roles that would normally be held by a male, such as Captain Phasma, the commander of the First Order’s force of storm troopers.

Throughout my life, women in movies and media have always been sexualized unnecessarily. From the “Transformers” films with Megan Fox, to “The Avengers” with Scarlett Johansson, the token female characters have been portrayed as objects more than realistic hard core warriors for that role, even when it wasn’t in the best interest of the movie. It seemed as though directors just couldn’t stop trying to make the women seem more appealing with makeup, even if it was out of place and sometimes totally anachronistic. In the Divergent trilogy, Tris, played by Shailene Woodley, started out in a place where vanity wasn’t valued and no one wore makeup or even used mirrors. However, in the first scene of the movie, we see Woodley with freshly plucked eyebrows, light eyeshadow and clearly defined eyeliner. What was the point? All it did for me was lower my respect for the film.

So, when I went to see Wonder Woman, I expected it would just be another movie that would portray its female characters inaccurately just to make a buck. However, to my surprise, the film was pulled off very well. The Amazons’ outfits weren’t over-the-top and revealing and had actually realistic armor that was also tasteful, and I was delighted.

However, with this one step forward, Justice League took two steps backwards with Wonder Woman’s role. Not only was her wardrobe changed, but the cinematic filming shots were borderline embarrassing and unnecessary with shots directly to show her rear and thighs for no good reason whatsoever, other than to attract a more masculine audience while alienating its new female fan base.

After a little research, I found that the difference between the two films, was the directors. The director for Wonder Woman, was a woman, Patty Jenkins, who made a deliberate choice to film her movie with accurate portrayals of her female characters. The director for Justice League on the other hand was a man, Zack Snyder. With a little more research I found that most of the directors for movies that upset me for the female roles in the past were men.

In 2014, 85 percent of films had male directors, 80 percent had no female writers, 33 percent had no female producers, 78 percent had no female editors and 92 percent had no female cinematographers, according to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University. According to Metacritic, a measly seven percent of last year’s 250 top-grossing films were directed by women. For me personally, I am angered and not just as a female, but as someone who advocates for the authenticity of movies.

“Wonder Woman” takes a step to an authentic film industry, and the growth that we’ve made with this film is monumental. Progress takes time, there’s no doubt about that, however, we can’t allow our small amount of progress to be reverted and trodden upon.