Unforgettable Females on Film - are they that hard to imagine?

September 20, 2014

Much has been written about the lack of quality female characters in films and considering that women outnumber men as moviegoers it begs the question why aren’t the moviemakers and screenwriters writing more of them?

 

The other day whilst looking for an editing course I stumbled across this:

 

I should have been relieved that finally we might start to see some compelling female characters, but instead I felt angry. It goes without saying - but I'll say it anyway - that you would never see an advertised course on 'creating unforgettable male characters' because for some reason this comes naturally to writers but when it’s a woman, it’s all shoulder shrugs and silence.

 

So I have three things to say to the people who feel the need to take this course.

 

1. Stop writing immediately. If you haven’t by now realized that women are just as diverse and interesting in personality as males, and you struggle to translate this in your scripts then you shouldn’t be writing, well not yet anyway.

 

2. Get out and talk to women. Needing to take this course suggests to me that you haven’t met, talked or listened to many women. It sounds to me as though you take your cues about who women are from the limited versions the media has been wrongly touting for years. Women are more than just mother, prostitute and virgin type characters. They are all different so get to know them as individuals with all their little quirks and uniqueness.

 

3. Reprogram your head. Take any script, and by 'any' I mean any, even if it is a male dominated one, then imagine that one or more of the male characters are female. If this grates you and causes you great discomfort, then you are a stuck in a stereotypical bubble that you need to burst. And I would hazard a guess that the majority of your male characters are mostly stereotyped as macho/tough guys too, so you should probably be looking for a course that teaches you how to write compelling characters, period.

 

The fact that this course is even necessary proves just how dire the industry is when it comes to the representation of females on film.

 

But, if you still want more proof that scriptwriters are writing banal female characters? Check out this tumblr feed by Casting Call Woe.  An actor posts the casting calls she finds on her search for work as a female in the film industry. The words ‘stripper’ and ‘porn star’ seem to make an appreance a little too often. And here’s a few of my favs:

 

Why give her a name when you can just diminish her to her physical parts? 

 

Past her prime at 22? Or even 35. Wowzer! Also who cares about her personality, she's beautiful. 

 

Here they at least specify that she's intelligent although, since she's beautiful as well they seem rather shocked by it. 

 

 

A leading and support role that requires nothing more than the woman's body. Apparently lead females don't converse with their significant others.

 

These guys have the decency to be honest about their misogynistic writing. I'm also loving the justification: "adds to the story & character." Yeah, right!

 

 

Alien strippers, sounds like a winner!

 

And now for my all time favourite! *drumroll*

 

 

Whaaaaaaat?

 

 

But I’ll leave you on this last film-related-men-getting-it-wrong-about-women story:

 

A friend of mine, working as a production assistant, told me that the director, during casting, said he wanted the second female lead to be a brunette. Why, she asked. Well, he said, the first lead is blonde and he didn’t want another blonde cause it may confuse the audience. Yaaa, remember this confusing film?

 

 

It should be noted that the two male leads in the same film both had brown hair. Gee, I hope the audience don't confuse them!

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