#IfAWomanDirected: Women Should Tell Stories About Women
We need a female perspective on these stories.
I loved the new Halloween. Truth be told, I had never seen a Halloween film before this — slashers aren’t my favorite horror subgenre – but I was super excited to be a part of a cultural event film such as this. I was pleasantly surprised by the film, especially by Laurie and the other female characters; they were the heart of the piece, instead of making it an entire film about Michael stabbing everyone he met. But, as I reflected on it, I couldn’t help but feel that there needed to be a female voice behind the scenes to make more of the film land.
Plenty of others have tweeted about Judy Greer’s thankless role as Laurie’s daughter Karen, now a mother herself. She gets one scene that flashes back briefly to her childhood living with a terrified mother, that is interrupted by her husband whining about how he got peanut butter on his penis. Her daughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak), gets to be a scream queen, but there’s no real exploration of how it might affect her to be part of such a famous and traumatized family. There are moments of pure girl power, but there could have been more weight to them.
The same day as Halloween opened, Jason Blum, a producer on the film, got into some serious hot water with pretty much every woman who directs, writes, or likes horror movies when he said that there were not that many women directors who liked horror movies. Women naturally called him out on this, and he did apologize, but the discussion was started and there is no stopping it now. Women should be getting the opportunity to direct more movies, especially horror and genre films.
Twitter, in its infinite kindness, actually started a pretty decent trend, #IfAWomanDirected, to encourage discussion about the way a female gaze would have changed some major films.
— FilmStruck (@FilmStruck) October 22, 2018
— Dr Sabina Stent (@SabinaStent) October 22, 2018
— 🏳️🌈 Ms. Marya Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek! Gates (@oldfilmsflicker) October 22, 2018
If I directed Sixteen Candles, then Long Duk Dong would be replaced by Brandon Chang, a gorgeous International student who blows sexist Jake Ryan out of the waters. The lead would be a South AsAm girl who finds her identity (w/Brandon’s help) in middle-America. #ifawomandirected https://t.co/ELbZdv2wZV
— Nancy Wang Yuen (@nancywyuen) October 22, 2018
The #ifawomandirected tag is interesting but it doesn’t spotlight enough black women/woc directors.
There are some real nuanced portrayals on film of EVERYBODY coming from black women/woc.
Off the top of my head. AEON FLUX by Karyn Kasuma. pic.twitter.com/LwNOtk3o1b
— Scarolyn the swamp thing 🍃🧟♂️💀🌿🌱 (@CarolynsGeekOut) October 22, 2018
— Megan Welch (@Mrbosslady) October 22, 2018
My gut reaction to #IfAWomanDirected is to immediately dive into all my favorite classic films and re-write them so we can ditch those awful Hays Code happy endings. Or to tackle the genre of the mobster in American film and make it all about toxic masculinity and the exclusionary and violent American dream. Half the films we considered prestigious today could have benefitted from a serious female gaze do-over.
But let’s pull a few concrete examples. Halloween we’ve covered, so let’s genre hop. The new Star Wars movies could all have used a female director. With a female director, Rogue One‘s Jyn could have been a far more dynamic, angry character, and we might have had her mother and father switch roles to create a more interesting mother-daughter dynamic. Solo needed a female creative behind the scenes to give some semblance of a fair treatment to their female characters. The Last Jedi deserved a woman behind the camera so that Rey could have had more of the focus, instead of the male Skywalkers.
On the Marvel side, I would have preferred a woman direct Guardians of the Galaxy. I am famously not a fan of James Gunn, but a woman would have given Peter’s trauma a little more nuance, and could have shifted the focus so that Gamora was treated fairly, instead of being a supporting character there for Peter to fall in love with (I mean, in the first Guardians, we’re told she’s the most dangerous woman in the galaxy and all she does is need to be rescued or remind Peter of his mother). A female director would have given her relationship with her sister Nebula a little more weight as well, making it even more key to the narrative so that Gamora’s decision in Infinity War had more impact.
Which films would you want to see a woman direct? Let us know in the comments or on social media!
(via Twitter; Image: Universal)
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