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May 31 2007

Female Action Pics Need Heroes Of Their Own. The Hollywood Reporter examines the lack of female-led action films and asks the question, "If 'Buffy' creator Joss Whedon is let go for not being able to nail a 'Wonder Woman' script, what hope do lesser mortals have?".

The article also mentions Buffy as an example of how female-led genre shows can find success on television.

Wait a minute, "Remo Williams" was a flop ? Truly, the great unwashed know nothing of film ;).

I think there's probably an element of sexism to it. Maybe there just aren't enough female feature script writers in Hollywood (struggling to name any of the top of my head) ? That said, if a male writer can write decent secondary female characters, why not just write a female hero the same way but, y'know, more heroic ?
I'm sure a Joss made Wonder Woman would've been awesome. My wife and I were looking forward to it, and neither of us are especially fans of WW. We just knew with Joss at the helm, it would be quality worth investing our time and money on.

Now we'll never experience his vision. A bunch of no-talent-know-nothings-with-nice-suits-and-bunches-of-money decided Joss didn't write the sexist film that they think would have sold.

Such is life in Hollywood. Talent doesn't matter. Story doesn't matter. Plot doesn't matter. Acting doesn't matter. Making block-buster-special-effects-laden-crap-where-some-hero-with-a-penis-saves-everyone-who-doesn't-have-one matters.

[ edited by quantumac on 2007-05-31 17:40 ]
You know I've been thinking. WB has the script Joss wrote. They own it,right? So maybe they wanted the Joss script but they wanted a director they could control. So they are going to take bits and leave bits out.
My personal pet peeve is the redundancy of the terms 'female hero' and 'heroine.' As I recall greek mythology, Hero was a girl (albeit a tragic character and not a hero, per se.)

But if the term hero implied the feminine in the definitive, with a male variant (herodude?) required when applied to his gender, everything else (vis-a-vis strong female cultural role models) would fall into place neatly.

[ edited by napua on 2007-05-31 18:58 ]
Anonymous1: "You know I've been thinking. WB has the script Joss wrote. They own it,right? So maybe they wanted the Joss script but they wanted a director they could control. So they are going to take bits and leave bits out."

Joss let us lil' fungi know in February that there was no final script for WW:

"There is no definitive 'script' for you guys to dig up. I did a draft that had all the big moments but was structurally wonky, then an outline for a much tighter version, but by that time the end was already in sight, so I never got to do the final definitive draft of the movie I would have made."

I sorta like this, from David Eick, a writer-executive producer on Battlestar Galactica: "...The best female action stories in my opinion are the ones in which the role isn't written for a girl, it's written for a hero..."

And I've stopped using the female version of words like that for females - I use actor, hero, hunter, etc. Don't usually care if the listener can distinguish the gender of the person I'm talking about, anymore than I care if they know their race or religion or sexuality, etc. - unless it's pertinent to the discussion. It usually isn't.
I always leave the males out. But German is a little bit more male-centered as a language, or there at least are two versions of the word. There are two German words for student for example, and I always use the female one. Because women were "also meant" when using the male version, that women started to "also mean" males by using the female one.
I wonder if women under 30 looked to Lara Croft as an action hero. I didn't, not the least of which reason was that she seemed so dilettante-ish to me (ETA, I'm not under 30 by any means but wonder if LC appeals to the younger generations). I like the idea, big screen or small, of a role being written for a hero first, gender second. I don't know why or if a hero has to be relegated to genre films (see below), but I'm having a very hard time thinking of anyone on the big screen except Sigourney Weaver or Linda Hamilton doing it for me (and ole Ripley and Sarah Connor were not exactly folks you can warm to like Buffy), but both had foibles and tried to do the right thing; Ripley in Alien 1, 2 & 3, at least as far I remember. She even had some mothering instinct going on for Newt. And Sarah in T2 having extremely high-stakes parenting issues to deal with, on a level that's difficult to even conceive of. Both in their own ways, struggling to save worlds.

Small screen, much easier to identify them: Buffy, Willow, Tara, even Faith to some degree. I haven't seen Battlestar Galactica but I've heard plenty about Starbuck. I think Olivia Benson on L&O is a hero (I try to take them wherever I can find them). In some ways I think Catherine Willows on CSI Vegas is a hero (though not so much the last couple of seasons -- character development or insights into her have not been ongoing) both of them struggling to succeed in traditionally male careers; sometimes succeeding, sometimes not.

I think the struggle is what I connect with more than anything, not whether the hero with supernatural powers or not comes out on top.

[ edited by Tonya J on 2007-06-01 02:31 ]
TonyaJ: "I think the struggle is what I connect with more than anything, not whether the hero with supernatural powers or not comes out on top."

Yeah, I hear that. On the small screen, though, my heroes have to come out on top - which is at least survival - or there's no show next week. Or it's too painful to go on...

BSG's Laura Roslin is one of my heroes - I can't say that I'm always happy about her decisions or attitude, but she still is pretty heroic. (Plus Mary McDonnell is amazing. Simply. If she's upset, teary or choked up, you will cry, guaranteed. She's like Alyson in that respect.)

Oh, Tonya, do, do start BSG. You will like it muchly, I believe...
Yes, the women in BSG are powerful people (and toasters).

quantumac: Good post!

I'm willing to bet that the draft of WW that Joss came up with, even if it was still sketchy, was better than anything that's been done in movies since Ripley. I'm saying this as I'm watching the original "Buffy" movie, which, even with it's flaws, is better than most action hero flicks featuring a female in the lead.
I think Charlie's Angels could've made a start at reversing Hollywood's gender bias in action movies - instead they set it back a few decades with their soft porn, sexist, girly "action" flick.

There's been a trend recently in both fantasy and science fiction writing to have a strong female protagonist with a little bit of a romantic substory. So far the only ones that have been adapted to the small or big screen have been the vampire-related ones, presumably because Joss already blazed the trail. I've been reading Karen Traviss's Star Wars series Republic Commando and her portrayal of a young jedi who falls for a clone soldier and saves the galaxy - multiple times! - is just the kind of thing I'd like to see on the big screen. What're the odds that George would adapt something like that? *rolls eyes*
I need to write carefully, because I'm usually the first to roll my eyes at "boys have it bad, too" statements, regarding matters of inequity between the sexes. But in terms of the heroic in recent movies, I think boys have it bad, too. I'm in a minority that doesn't include Joss in not liking any of the Spidermans and being lukewarm on Batman Begins, so maybe there are things that I'm not getting. But I don't want to be any of those people.

The character development sucks. In addition to the classic "does it have to be a woman?" I think hero-centered movies are also developed with "does he have to be a human being?" hobbling the stories and characters. It's been said before here, but most likely Joss would have managed to make Steve Trevor a believable, human hero. Maybe that was what they hated.

[ edited by dreamlogic on 2007-06-01 06:34 ]
Took the words right out of my mouth regarding Spider-Man and Batman Begins. Really good segments in them but overall they leave me feeling we have yet to see the great Superhero movie.

And who says Joss didn't nail the script? Just because Joel Silver didn't like it, doesn't mean Joss didn't nail it.
I'm quite sure I'd rather look at a smeary, thrice carbon-copied two page treatment by Joss, and a handful of crumpled cocktail napkins with his hottest ideas scrawled on them, than whatever Hollywood will mindlessly churn out. No amount of CGI and pushup bra can fix bad writing.
This is one of the main reasons I'm inconsolable about having only one more season of BSG, the disgusting lack of female hero's on TV.

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