And before you think Well, sure, that's less than half of what would really be ideal representation, but maybe it's a sign of progress, this is the lowest level of gender equity in roles in five years.
They are part and parcel of the same overall problem of negative and stereotypical views of women. We don't have time to go through all the many, many problems with the representation of women in the media, but, for fun, ...
Marvel deity and godfather of comics Stan Lee revealed in an interview that the superhero Black Widow (a.k.a. Natasha Romanova a.k.a. the character Scarlet Johansson plays in The Avengers) might eventually be getting her own movie.
It’s no secret that this summer’s movies suck for women. It’s been mentioned on Vulture. NPR did a story about it. The New York Times covered it. Even Fox News ran a piece about it.
Yet Jodie Foster has a leading role in the new action movie Elysium. How’d she score it? Foster makes a point of having her agent specifically seek out leading-man scripts that can be flipped. Her role in Elysium was originally written for a man.
The "hypodermic needle theory" implied mass media had a direct, immediate and powerful effect on its audiences. The mass media in the 1940s and 1950s were perceived as a powerful influence on behavior change.
Several factors contributed to this "strong effects" theory of communication, including:
- the fast rise and popularization of radio and television
- the emergence of the persuasion industries, such as advertising and propaganda
- the Payne Fund studies of the 1930s, which focused on the impact of motion pictures on children, and
- Hitler's monopolization of the mass media during WWII to unify the German public behind the Nazi party
In 1985, Alison Bechdel wrote a comic strip in which a character stated that she would only go see a movie if the following criteria were met: 1. It has to have at least two women in it 2. who talk to each other 3. about something other than a man. The joke being that because of these rules she hadn’t been to the cinema since 1979. The comic came and went, but these three rules stuck around and became known as the Bechdel Test. Its appeal comes from its simplicity and its stark illustration of just how poorly women are depicted in mainstream entertainment.
(With the exception of The Heat — which earned a solid $40 million on its opening weekend, handily defeating the competition — it has not been a good summer for women in the movies. Put more plainly: With the exception of The Heat, women have barely been in the movies this summer at all. In the words of NPR's Linda Holmes, who wrote about the problem last month, "if you want to go to see a movie in the theater and see a current movie about a woman — anystory about any woman that isn't a documentary or a cartoon — you can't." The 2013 lineup is all superheroes and crass man-boy bonding. Granted, studios release these types of movies every summer, but usually they'll at least give us one rom-com or female ensemble movie, or a woman in a role that is not "secretary to an Avenger." Or so I assumed, based on fond memories of The Notebook and every mediocre Kate Hudson film ever made. This year seemed worse to me, and so I decided to do the math, comparing the number of women in major roles in the last five years of major summer releases with those in major releases from twenty years ago. It turns out that yes, 2013 is a bad summer — but it is far from a record low point. This has been a problem for 25 years now.
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