On the heels of the success of "Batman Begins," Tanya Gold in the Guardian devotes her DVD player to a weekend’s search for a blockbustery heroine equivalent. And she fails, fails, fails. To be fair, her selection was rather dismal: "Catwoman," "Elektra," "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life" and "Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle" are not the stuff to which screenplay or directing awards are given. After watching this hellish marathon, she concludes:
Superwoman can’t have a super relationship or super contentment and the pay-off for her super gift is isolation, loneliness, misanthropy and, eventually, no doubt, super-arthritis.
It’s an amusing read, though we have to wonder if Gold has seen any of the male superhero movies she’s indirectly writing about ("Under their masks, I saw only sickness; under the corsets only high-quality breast augmentation. Batman has won," she closes), because their heroes are as equally moody, lonely, self-hating and taut-stomached. Honestly, no superhero can have a nice home life or a healthy relationship â€” it would doom the franchise! Directors have to be able to toss the latest starlet/beefcake in there to bring in the kids who want to ogle, and they can either die dramatically or fade from the series and our memory as the credits roll (and before you bring up the "Spider-Man" movies, we all know that by the third one he’s going to be back in romantic angst again, because otherwise, ugh!). The problem with these films is that no one’s figured out what a blockbuster heroine should be like (Hildy Johnson‘s public domain, darlings, pick up a copy and study, work in the martial arts later) â€” out of the four films mentioned in the article, two of the heroines are essentially grunty comic book men transposed into lingerie-clad hard bodies, broody blank slates on which to project one’s own hopes for any signs of personality; one is a drag queen attempting to channel Eartha Kitt; and the others are retarded puppies in slingbacks. We’ll let you figure out which is which yourselves.
In the Toronto Star,
Peter Howell looks at the portrayals of women, superhero or not, in this summer’s blockbusters, and finds them lacking if not regressive. He suggests that this is a by-product of Hollywood’s single-minded coveting of the teenage boy demographic. As a quoted gender studies professor points out:
Nora Ephron directed "Bewitched," and she wrote it with her sister Delia, and they did it like a 25-year-old Hollywood male screenwriter who isn’t conscious of what he’s writing. They came up with the same kind of stereotypical roles and images that women are supposed to have in these kinds of Hollywood movies.
Howell also speculates interestingly (though unfoundedly) that it’s women’s lack of interest in this season’s offerings that’s causing the much-discusses box office droop.