Jennifer Lawrence Haters Predictably Ignore the Important Point She Made To Dunk on Her
Jennifer Lawrence has had an interesting relationship with the public throughout her career. She was beloved, then hated, then mocked, and now she’s coming back around to people loving her—as many female stars do. Because it seems to be a trend that people hate actresses just to do it and then realize how messed up it is years later. But in that, she’s also not perfect and has made a comment on female action leads that is getting roasted online, despite the important point she made alongside it.
Lawrence was doing Actors on Actors with Viola Davis and was talking about female-led action movies and why she loved seeing movies like The Woman King and how far movies have progressed in regards to female leads. Many online have focused on Lawrence incorrectly saying that she was the “first” and that nobody had put a woman in the lead of an action movie prior to The Hunger Games, which is very much a false statement. But she went on to make a great point that is being ignored in order to dunk on her.
“I remember when I was doing Hunger Games,” Lawrence said. “Nobody had ever put a woman in the lead of an action movie because it wouldn’t work — because we were told girls and boys can both identify with a male lead, but boys cannot identify with a female lead. And it just makes me so happy every single time I see a movie come out that just blows through every one of those beliefs, and proves that it is just a lie to keep certain people out of the movies. To keep certain people in the same positions that they’ve always been in.”
Female leads constantly have to appeal to men
One of the things that I’ll say about characters like Ellen Ripley (who many brought up in argument to Lawrence’s first point) is that she was created by men and with the male gaze and idea in mind. Not to say that diminishes Ripley or actress Sigourney Weaver. I’m just saying that Ripley is what many would deem a palatable female lead in an action movie.
Every single example that I have seen floating around online has been a female character written by a man—meaning that I am supposed to uphold these female characters that are written by men as the end-all be-all? Lawrence misspoke and that’s fine, but she isn’t wrong about how audiences are interacting with these characters and the common wisdom on who can lead what kind of movie, regardless of the exceptions.
What was so fascinating about Katniss (who was created by Suzanne Collins) was that she was the lead of an entire series, and she wasn’t perfect by any means but she was, from the jump, a lead in an action movie that was meant to be her story. The thing with characters like Ripley, and even with movies like Catwoman starring Halle Berr,y is that they were built to fall into the leads that male audiences could find interesting, and female audiences were never the priority.
I don’t think once that a studio executive has looked at a character like Steve Rogers or Bruce Wayne and said, “Now how can we make sure that female and non-binary audiences are interested in this?” and that’s the important point to take away from Lawrence’s comment.
Yes, she was wrong. We all got that. Katniss Everdeen was not the first female action star. But Lawrence isn’t wrong in stating that women have constantly been told they can relate to male leads but men can’t seem to do the same with a female lead, and that’s what we should be focusing on.
(featured image: Lionsgate)
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