Ever notice how the media never talks about “men’s movies”? They talk about “women’s movies” or “African-American movies” or “gay movies.” They’ll say “this weekend there’s a woman’s movie opening.” Or “this is a chick flick starring Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway.” But you’ll never hear them say, “This weekend there are nine men’s movies opening,” or “There’s a great men’s movie opening this weekend starring Robert De Niro.”
That’s because they’re (pretty much) all men’s movies! They note the exceptions, not the rule.
You never hear people say, “There’s a dozen men’s football games this weekend.” Or “stay tuned for news on the men’s NBA finals.” Like sports and politics and most of the corporate world, movies usually take place in the world of men. They tell men’s stories, sometimes about men in sports and politics and the corporate world.
If a “woman’s movie” gets greenlighted, then it’s going to be watched like a hawk, and if it doesn’t do well at the box office? Then Mr. Movie Executive Soup Nazi says, “No more Women’s Movies for you!” (Such as mentioned by Nikki Finke: “Warner Bros president of production Jeff Robinov has made a new decree that ‘We are no longer doing movies with women in the lead’.”)
What are “women’s movies”? That’s a crapshoot. Many movies demeaning or pejorative to women are considered “women’s movies.” Often they’re written and/or directed by men with a man’s POV and still called “women’s movies.” Sometimes women write and/or direct “women’s movies” that aren’t at all empowering to women. Sometimes this is because they’ve changed it to get funding or support or actors, or because they’ve bought into the same story lines they’ve seen since childhood.
“In the Land of Women,” written and directed by Jon Kasden, stars many actresses, but don’t be fooled. Adam Brody plays the wise and grounded center for the messed up storm of women around him, including Meg Ryan, Kristen Stewart and Olympia Dukakis. This is more like “A Wise Man in the Land of Effed Up Women.” Of course Brody is supposed to be confused and hurt, which is why he left home to visit his grandmother, Olympia, but compared to these women, he’s a rocket scientist. Maybe a better title: “In the Land of the Blind, the One-Eyed Man is King.” The one-eyed Brody graces these women with his (in)sight and fades out by the time the credits roll. Women should love it, right?
Well, how about “He’s Just Not That Into You,” which makes clear that all women want to do is get a man or marry a man or complain about men when they’re not successful at either, which is their own darn fault. How about Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson in Bride Wars, where it’s revealed women are really catty MBs (Mean B*tches) whose wedding locations trump their friendship? There’s always The Upside of Anger, where Joan Allen is a faithless MB who doubts her HGG (Helluva Great Guy) husband.
What a conundrum! Why are women not flocking to these “Women’s Movies”?!
What does a woman have to do to get a decent, at least entertaining if not empowering movie around here? Hmmm… best not answer that.
MotH: Most movies are a man’s view of a man in a man’s world, where only men are brave, courageous, wise and heroic. In the world of movies there might not be so many brave, courageous, wise and heroic women to choose from, but in the real world, there are many: Rosa Parks, Rachel Carson, Joan of Arc, Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, Sally Ride, Sojourner Truth, Amelia Earhart, Clara Barton, Florence Nightingale, Barbara Jordan, Helen Keller and Anne Frank, for starters.