Lately many of my tweets have focused on women's presence and voice in mainstream movies. I have pointed out which new trailers show women only talking to men and not to other women, as well as those that show women playing nothing more than supportive roles to men. I have often mentioned the Bechdel Test (a test that serves as an indicator of the active presence of women in movies). To pass this test a movie must show: 1) two female characters (preferably named), 2) talking to each other, 3) about something besides a man. The bar is very low. If this test were about men instead of women pretty much every movie ever made would pass it. As it is the majority of movies fail the Bechdel Test because filmmakers rarely show two women talking about something besides men. To say that the film industry is androcentric feels like an understatement.
However, things are slowly improving. Lately there have been more movies that score well in terms of women's presence and voice as more and more women get a chance to be involved in the film industry from behind the camera. I have discussed a few of these in the past. One that I have not yet discussed is Wild (2014), which centers on one's woman's life and focuses heavily on her relationship with her mother. It passes the Bechdel Test with flying colours. Wild is based on a memoir written by Cheryl Strayed and directed by fellow Canadian Jean-Marc Vallée, who gave us C.R.A.Z.Y. (2005). It is an unusual and interesting movie, one that I would recommend. It is the story of one woman's journey, and that is something we need to see a great deal more of from the film industry.
© 2018 Alline Cormier
Anne of Green Gables (1985)
Yesterday was Labour Day, and I spent it strolling around the local botanical gardens, which include a Japanese garden, a rose garden, a rock garden, a poisonous plant garden (!), an Indigenous garden, etc. In the evening, and because the news has been so negative and depressing lately, I watched one of my favourite mini-series: Anne of Green Gables (1985). It can be watched like a movie, as can its sequel (Anne of Avonlea, 1987). Watching it again I was struck, as I have been before, at how wholesome it is—especially compared to movies of the 21th century. It contains no sex, nudity or explicit language. Good manners and respectful behaviour are the norm rather than the exception. Moreover, no women or girls are sexually assaulted or even in any real danger (sexual or otherwise). It is also brimming with strong female characters, including the lead character, who have goals, ambition, true friendships with other women and healthy relationships with men.
The other thing I couldn't help noticing was teenage girls' clothing. Unlike the teenage girls dressed like street-level prostitutes in current movies (see the movie stills below from The Bling Ring and Easy A) the teenage girls in Anne of Green Gables are fully dressed. The reason for this is not simply because the story takes place in the early 1900s. Teenage girls were also fully dressed in movies from the '80s (see the movie stills below from Pretty in Pink and The Heathers). The portrayal of teenage girls in mainstream movies is one of the dozens of things I have documented for my upcoming 700-page book on the sexualization of women in media—for which I analysed over 425 mainstream movies.
© 2018 Alline Cormier