The recent surge of films and network television shows featuring a strong female lead thrills audiences. Some of my friend’s attribute this to the increase in female screenwriters, directors, and producers. The rest believes there is an increased availability of scripts for female characters.
A survey from Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film found that women made up 29 percent of main characters in 2016’s top 100 movies, a 7 percent increase over 2015.
I think there is a variety of opportunities contributing to this change. Progression never really happens at the hands of one thing, but comes from different contributing factors that chip away at the normative expectations. It’s more like transitional conditioning that facilitates change.
Audiences are beginning to reject the dominance of male protagonists, especially in the wake of sexual harassment revelations, and want to discuss the need for increased female visibility both in front and behind the camera. The conversations are everywhere and we see them often turn from “ look how great of an opportunity this for women” to “damn men suck, what the hell took so long”. I consider myself a forward thinker, and I have to say I agree. What did take so long? Specifically, what held up diversity and gender equality in entertainment.
Truthfully, women have waited a long while to have the same opportunities as men in nearly every industry, so I’m not surprised here. Knowing something is true doesn’t wipe away the yuck you feel when you hear slimy facts given life through verbal expression. It’s historically undeniable. There are other cross-sections of people who inhabit this same conundrum as women. To maintain focus here, I will leave that for another time.
I have thought about this for a while, and the results are in:
Shout out to the ladies
To all the intelligent, driven, successful ladies reading this, I hear your voices. As much as possible, I understand the transition you are going through. It is thrilling to see that your voice and more realistic representations of your life are now available on demand.
For decades, women exploited on T.V. and in films. Actresses have been typecast and portrayed as one dimensional. You are tired of the relegation to the kitchens, classrooms, and nurseries. Recently, your due has become more available, and positions as directors, producers, and writers you have deserved for so long can be inhabited. I salute you, I honor you, and I say it’s about damn time.
Where is this going
Now that your season of success is in full swing, are you planning to exact your revenge on all men? The rampant success of female-powered shows has fueled revenge writing. The frequency of articles that annihilate men, often astutely, demolish the B.S routines that acted out on women have increased in great measure. The neck-and-neck race of fuckboy articles surpassed only by articles that cover racism, or Donald Trump. (I know those are much the same thing)
Some will say what’s the problem. If men are behaving badly, why shouldn’t we call them out on their injurious behavior? The problem is, you are using the same broad-stroking brush to paint the male character, that you were once the victim of. I am not demonizing female authors/bloggers, but there is a female population of writers carelessly assassinating the character of “good dudes”.
For example, I googled fuckboy, and here are the results. Notice anything?
90 percent of the search results return an article that does exactly what I just described. Television and films, like Veep, Atlanta, Insecure, Magic Mike, How to be Single, or even Empire, feature one guy minimum, that just can’t seem to figure out how to behave appropriately in a relationship. Also, I recently read a listicle that provided some anecdotal character analysis of male characters on current T.V. shows.
This is not all men
I mention this here because all the characterizations represent a type of real person and should be represented in entertainment programs that reach for the same type of verisimilitude that audiences crave.
We all want authenticity, things that represent people we have encountered. I am in line with the rest of the audience. The issue is the translation from storytelling to the nearly insurmountable rhetoric that has become the common weekly feature on almost every female-led entertainment media outlet.
In all things, do your best to keep your mind and eyes open. There is only one way for information to get in.