A lot of film sites I use quite frequently are quite, well, liberal. Nothing wrong with that, I myself am very left wing. But what I don’t understand are the few people out there that believe this should apply to film. If there aren’t a set amount of women and minorities then a film is racist. That is some genuinely stupid thinking. But let’s boil it down to one smaller section. Feminism. At it’s core, the idea of equality between men and women, is good. It’s obviously a good idea to have equality. Quite simply, is feminism in film a good idea?
But, the big money question is whether or not we should apply feminism to film. Not just in regard to plot and story, but in regard to cast, direction and the industry as a whole. My argument is no, mainly because nobody gives a shit who directs or who stars in what, so long as it is a good film. But let’s go over a few arguments people have for the importance of women starring and women directed films.
I should point out before we begin, some of my favourite actors are women. Don’t think of me as some grumbly old man saying women don’t have a place in film because they clearly do. Judi Dench, Jennifer Lawrence and Mila Kunis are just a few examples. I could go on but we have an article to do.
There are too many male led films
The big argument that women use is that there are too many films with white males. But then they also use the argument that a female lead can be easy to connect to no matter what sex you are. Therefore the standard must apply to males, right? A woman can enjoy James Bond as much as a man can enjoy Tomb Raider. It’s a double standard set up to try and guilt trip the industry into mass producing Wonder Woman (2017) sequels.
In essence, there needs to be more female led action films, because people are sick of white males in film. While this may very well be the case for a lot of people, films starring those evil white males sell. Not only that, but it really doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is that this system is void. It shouldn’t be down to their gender or ethnicity, it should be down to who is the best actor.
Usually I watch a film because of the director, the cast or just in general to unwind after a day. I literally couldn’t care less who was in the film. Films like Atomic Blonde (2017) are on the rise, a film which has been compared to a female John Wick (2014). To be fair that’s not a bad thing. I am actually looking forward to it. But what I don’t understand is that the main argument for this is that women led films have roles that men can connect with. So can male led films not connect with a female audience? That seems to be the standard that is currently set.
The Bechdel Test
I’ve written quite a few articles on The Bechdel Test. My complaints have been made fairly apparent so now I’m going to try and condense it as much as possible. Quite briefly I think The Bechdel Test is possibly one of the worst parts of the film industry. It’s basically the idea that there should be at least two women who talk to each other about something that isn’t a man in every film. Some people refuse to watch films that don’t pass these three rules. You’d honestly be surprised which films fail this test.
Reservoir Dogs (1992) has an all male cast but is possibly one of the best crime films I have ever seen. Whiplash (2014) was a truly engaging musical piece of film that I enjoyed every second of. I still regret giving it such a low rating. There’s a lot of films that are genuinely brilliant films that fail The Bechdel Test. My point is that failing to conform to this standard within film should not mean the film is a failure. That’s ridiculous.
Here, look I’ll just list a few other films that fail The Bechdel Test.
The Imitation Game (2014)
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
The Avengers (2013)
Baby Driver (2017)
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001 – 2003)
I’ve written quite a bit on my problems with The Bechdel Test, those articles can be found here and here. I should point out that putting any stipulation whatsoever on a film is hindering it. Not just The Bechdel Test, but any form of test you can think of. Watch something you would enjoy, not something that conforms to a test standard.
Equality in film is very important, that is what should be working. However the sacrifice of a role shouldn’t just be to conform to having a universally diverse cast. As long as the best person for the job is cast in a role then that’s all that matters. Feminism in film really isn’t important because, let’s be fair, that isn’t what makes the money. What makes the money in Hollywood is a variety of things. The cast, the acting, the direction and the script, those are just four of the countless problems a film will have to account for.
So saying that feminism has a place in film is really like requesting any of your opinions into film. No to feminism. Yes to equality. There’s a stigma surrounding feminism that I’m not going to get into until another article. But either way no matter what it is I don’t think it’s a smart move to have every film conform to a certain structure.
If we have every film needing to reach the same standard, then we won’t have the variety we have now. This film treats women horribly, that film treats men horribly. The Grand Budapest Hotel has an overwhelming male cast because it portrays them all as having their own horrible ideas. That’s why it works so well, it doesn’t pass The Bechdel Test but it looks into the conformity of the male role in film.