This browser is supported only in Windows 10 and above.


The “feminine sensibility.”

The “feminine sensibility.” (photo)

Posted by on

Here’s what I’ve learned in the last 24 hours: women are associative, intuitive and non-intellectual. Women are bad directors because the medium requires the male gaze. Women don’t have conversations in movies. None of these statements have anything in common except that they’re ridiculous gender-based generalizations designed to spark hours and hours of frothing-at-the-mouth frenzy. And it needs to stop.

Let’s start with some basics here: it’s not precisely a secret that the film industry always has been and still is dominated by men. Nor is it news that sexism quietly remains prevalent. It’s hard not to sympathize with an idea like The Bechdel Test, which proposes to measure whether movies meet some kind of basic female parity by figuring out whether there are two or more women in a movie who have names and have a conversation about something other than a man. This isn’t new, but a friend sent me the link this morning.

This seems reasonable, until you look at the list of movies cited: is the biggest problem with, say, “Shrek” a lack of gender parity? (Or, uh, “WALL-E”?) I can think of quite a few movies from last year that would actually pass this test — “Beeswax,” “Halloween II,” “Up In The Air,” “Treeless Mountain,” “My Sister’s Keeper” — but I’m being deliberately obtuse and I know it. It just seems like attacking a wide variety of blockbusters that flatten all the complexities of human experience for being gender-imbalanced doesn’t make any sense.

05182010_scarjo.jpgBut hey, I get it! I certainly wouldn’t enjoy living in a world where the “male experience” (whatever that might be) was constantly marginalized and dismissed. There is a point here, even if it’s not one I’m on board with. Let’s move deeper down the generalization pool. From Cannes, Anne Thompson reports that Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “Biutiful” is “almost feminine in its associative, intuitive, non-intellectual construction.” Best not to dwell on this: cranking out copy in a high-pressure festival environment is one of the hardest things to do and can lead to all kinds of statements you wouldn’t normally make. I’ll just point out that if a man had said this (women are non-intellectual?), he’d quickly (and correctly) be pilloried for sexism.

Descending down the scale, we find the truly vile. There’s Bret Easton Ellis, who’s never been afraid to say stupid things with great vehemence. “I think [movies are] a medium that really is built for the male gaze and for a male sensibility,” he says, before going on not to clarify anything. “I mean, the best art is made under not an indifference to, but a neutrality [toward] the kind of emotionalism that I think can be a trap for women directors.” And way, way down there we find Big Hollywood‘s Leigh Scott, who somehow connects “Iron Man 2″‘s box office success to the Battle of Saratoga (!) before going on to prove that the film is feminist, not sexist.

This is a small sample of the kind of reasoned gender discourse the internet helpfully vomits up on an hourly basis (gender politics are second only to actual politics as a way to piss people off and drive up traffic numbers). But it’s all stupid. It will never stop, of course — but it’d be nice if it did. Correlating anything to gender is tenuous at best and increasingly repugnant at worst. Let’s leave this to the academics, shall we? There’s nothing to be gained by any of these statements, ever.

[Photos: “Shrek The Halls,” DreamWorks Animation, 2007; “Iron Man 2,” Paramount, 2010.]

Watch More

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

Posted by on

The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

Watch More

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

Posted by on

Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

Watch More

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

Posted by on
GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

Watch More