The Secret to Successful Female Action Hero Films

SFF author Joel Shepherd wrote an interesting guest blog for SF Signal. Here's an extract:

In Hollywood, there's a feeling that movies with leading female action characters don't do very well. This in turn makes it hard for more movies of that ilk to get made. Now let's be fair to Hollywood -- rather than just blast the many film industry folks who believe this stuff by listing all the big movies with leading female action characters that have done good or great, let's acknowledge that there are plenty that have done poorly. It's not that Hollywood is wrong to say female action leads have a mediocre record, it's that they're wrong to attribute that record to a lack of audience interest. The poor record is because most of these movies stink, and audiences, unsurprisingly, don't like bad movies.

Why do these movies stink? It's this...

If Hollywood make a movie about a 'male hero', they will focus upon the word 'hero'. Hollywood tells hero stories extremely well -- the great powers, the great responsibilities, the tortured origin story, the moral and existential conflict. It's all there, and Hollywood can tell these stories as easily as LeBron James can make a layup, and for similar financial reward.

But if Hollywood makes a movie about a 'female hero', they'll focus upon the word 'female'. They'll lose emphasis upon the hero story, and focus on sex and gender instead. Our female hero will be dressed in ridiculous outfits, and will have action scenes dedicated less to showing how kick ass she is, than to how many teenage boys she can give erections while kicking ass


Because audiences, male and female, want a hero story. Sex appeal you can get from the internet, where hot women will do all sorts of things that Hollywood just can't compete with for teenage erections. What Hollywood can do much better than the internet, or better than anyone else in the world, is tell a tale about a great and unique individual who faces insurmountable odds, and conquers personal demons, in pursuit of justice, truth and inner peace. Or something like that. If Hollywood would actually tell that story, with women in lead roles who were allowed to be genuine heroes, audiences would turn up -- they have in the past, on the rare occassion Hollywood (meaning James Cameron) made this kind of movie, and would again.

This is not to say that sex appeal is not important, quite the contrary. Christian Bale's Batman made many millions from female movie goers due to sex appeal, and straight male viewers like to see that their hero's 'got it' too, for street cred purposes. But sex appeal can't be the focus of any dramatic narrative, because it tells no tale worth telling -- which is of course why porn movie plots are so bad. I hear

Follow this link for the full article.

By the way, you can download Joel Shepherd's Sasha for free on Kindle here.

2 commentaires:

machinery said...

bullshit article from a moronic blogger/whatever.
there is one reason only :
put a woman in spiderman's role in the first or the second or the third movie, do you see a woman being busted with bloodied face ?
there you go.
that's it.

even if you look at comics which dedicated to women like spiderwoman, ro wonder woman, you won't see it.

but the male comics heroes you will.

i have so declared, end of story.

Ted Cross said...

I think the only movie where I really felt the female action hero felt genuine was La Femme Nikita (the movie, not the tv show). It can be done, but it needs to be done right.