“What About the Boys?” by Sarah

The last twelve months have produced at least two amazing female-driven blockbusters (Star Wars: The Force Awakens and now Ghostbusters), and there are more to come. Putting it as politely as I can, this has led to many… colorful debates online about the value of female-driven scripts.

Isn’t it enough already?

Don’t girls have enough heroes now?

What about the boys?

Don’t BOYS need people to look up to?

The short answer is, yes. Of course boys need someone to look up to.

The longer answer is, no. It’s not enough. Women, people of color, and every other overlooked minority population needs more exposure. Diversity in entertainment is GOOD.

Let me explain my story a little.

Growing up, I wanted to be a boy.

Now, I did not want to be a boy because I had gender identity issues. I wanted to be a boy because from all the books I read and all the movies I saw, it looked to me like boys just got to have more FUN!

I loved everything swashbuckling and knightly. King Arthur was a personal favorite. I wanted to badly to be a knight of the round table. Why? BECAUSE THEY GOT SWORDS, DAMNIT! They got to save people and defeat dragons! They got to DO SOMETHING! What did Guinevere get to do? Cheat on her husband and basically destroy Paradise? How is THAT fun? (I’m speaking as a child saw the situation, of course there are more nuances to her character… but when you’re seeing it on screen as a child, this is what you see.)

I also loved Robin Hood. He was an archer! He could hit any bullseye from a million miles away. He stole from the rich and gave to the poor. He was a HERO!

What did Maid Marion get to do?

Fall in love.

Get kidnapped.

Yell and scream a lot.

Get saved.

That’s not me.

I never wanted that to be me.

The more I saw women being nothing but Damsels in Distress, the more I saw the MEN coming in to save them, the more I wanted to be a dude. Why wouldn’t I? If I was a boy, I would get to be the hero. I would get CHOICES. I would MATTER.

The only modern women I really saw in cinema were the stars of romantic comedies. I enjoyed these movies, but there weren’t women I wanted to be like. They weren’t HEROES. They essentially fell in love, and having a man in their life just fixed all their problems. I can barely even remember any of their names, they are completely interchangeable and generic. And that’s fine for what those films are, but when then those are the ONLY women I had to see on screen, there’s a problem.

The other women I saw on screen were the Bond Girl types, the femme fatals who existed to be leered at by men. The women who dripped with sexuality and betrayed everyone at the drop of a hat. What I learned as a child was that as a woman, I mattered only if a man wanted to make out with me. I mattered only if a man decided I mattered. If he didn’t pay attention to me, if I was (God Forbid!) ugly or undesirable, I wasn’t worth his time, and hence I wasn’t worth anyone’s time.

My value came from what men thought of me.

I didn’t like that.

I didn’t want to be a woman like that.

I wanted to be a boy.

James Bond was a boy, and he got fun toys and got to save the world.

How is that not better?

Whether intentional or not, as a child, these were the messages I took away from the stories that surrounded me.

Being a girl was inherently worse than being a boy.

Being a girl meant being passive and not getting to fight for anything.

Being a girl meant waiting to be rescued.

Being a girl meant falling in love with whatever guy paid the most attention to me.

Now, what about the boys? Are there negative messages bombarding boys? ABSOLUTELY. Is there toxic masculinity out there? You bet. Should this be fixed? YES!

But, boys have choices.

Boys have heroes.

Boys can be the hero.

When will it be enough?

When I don’t have to write this article explaining why it’s not enough.

Advertisements

Why Kate McKinnon And Kristen Wiig Are Important For The Future of Women in Cinema By Sarah

 

First of all, we’re going to be talking about Ghostbusters (2016), so if you have a problem with spoilers, stay away until you’ve seen it.

And, go see it.

I was not sure this movie would be good. The trailer left me a little numb, truth be told. But, within thirty seconds of the film starting, I had laughed. Out loud. Twice.

That’s more than I generally laugh the entire 90 minute runtime of most comedies.

So, in short, see Ghostbusters. It’s fun. It’s funny. And, it’s important.

The entire cast is amazing. Each and every woman plays her role perfectly and is charming, witty, and amazing. I loved them all. But, for me, Kate McKinnon and Kristen Wiig have two specific moments that are not only completely badass, they are absolutely some of the most important moments of the year for women in cinema.

The first moment is McKinnon’s. If you’ve seen the movie, you know exactly what moment I’m talking about. In the third act, there is a giant ghost-busting-ass-kicking fight. McKinnon licks her supernatural sixshooter, and takes on what seems like a hundred ghosts on her own. She just obliterates them in amazing fashion.

That, right there. That was important.

Why, you may ask?

First of all, because it was awesome and actually elicited a cheer from my crowd. A raucous, spontaneous, CHEER. But, beyond that, it is important because she is a woman who, in that moment, is standing up and taking control. She’s not wearing a skimpy leather outfit while doing it. She’s not trying to look sexy. Her boobs aren’t perfectly accentuated in a halter top. No. Her hair’s a mess, she’s in a dirty jumpsuit, and she’s just going to kick asses and take names.

Most movies fall into the trap of thinking a strong, female character needs to be in a Catwoman-type costume. I’m not saying there’s no place for tight leather and whips, and I’m not judging that type of strong female at all. What I’m saying is, there are OTHER ways to be strong. There are other ways to be confident. In this moment, Kate McKinnon showed the world she could defy every Hollywood cliche, and she could still be the sexiest woman on Earth while doing it.

The second moment that is important for the future of women in cinema belongs to the fabulous Kristen Wiig, who has been a comedy hero of mine since before Bridesmaids. Her Katherine Hepburn impression on SNL won me to her side from minute one.

Ms. Wiig’s moment is slightly more subtle. It is also during the final fight scene. Her friends are all in danger, crushed beneath a giant, very familiar-seeming ghost. Then, out of no where, BAM! The ghost explodes, and standing there is Wiig in her full glory. She gets an amazing, Indiana Jones-style hero shot. An actual, real life, honest-to-God HERO SHOT where you just stare are her in her awesomeness and soak it in.

She’s a woman.

She defeated this ghost.

She didn’t wait for a man.

She didn’t give up.

She didn’t run.

She is the hero. Accept it, love it.

Again, she is not in a negligee. She is not accompanied by a love interest. She is not in a Princess Leia slave outfit. She is just there, also in her jumpsuit, also radiating pure womanly radiance in a way we just don’t generally get on screen.

Again, I am not judging the heroines on screen who are more overt with their sexuality. There is a place for that brand of feminism, too. What I’m saying it, this film dared to embrace a DIFFERENT brand of feminism. A brand of feminism that often goes overlooked in Hollywood because it might seem less glamorous, but after all, feminism is about the ability for ALL women to choose their fate, to choose how they live out their femininity. Neither McKinnon nor Wiig sacrifice an iota of womanliness or femininity. Theirs comes from their characters, their depth, their quirks, their smiles, and their determination.

It was glorious to behold.

So, take note, Hollywood.

Women are here.

ALL women are here.

And we’re not going anywhere.