What Women Want From Films

1 May

3rd. Article in our 5-week series on The Next Generation of Films for Women

It’s common knowledge that men and women differ somewhat when it comes to what to watch at the cinema. Men like action and sci-fi, women like romantic comedies and dramas. But the majority of us know these are just clichés. Men and women like a range of genres, not just the assigned stereotypical ones. However there is a problem when it comes to female driven movies that aim to be something more than just the usual superficial films that we expect.

According to a Jennifer Kesler, a writer for the website The Hathor Legacy (a great website that discuses women’s roles in the media industry), says writers in film schools are encouraged to focus on white, straight men. She says the explanation she finally received was “The audience doesn’t want to listen to a bunch of women talking about whatever it is women talk about.”  Kelser states that she doesn’t believe that excuse,

“I concluded Hollywood was dominated by perpetual pre-adolescent boys making the movies they wanted to see, and using the “target audience” – a construct based on partial truths and twisted math – to perpetuate their own desires.”  [1]

In a follow up articles she says it’s because of Hollywood’s ego, greed and laziness. [2] [3] I agree with her. Society has grown and developed while Hollywood bigwigs continue  to churn out films based on old gender roles.

We’ve talked before about what it will take to break through this barrier. It seems that most writers,  directors, producers and actors are trying to chip away at this out dated belief. But what about us, the general movie going population? There are many difficult questions we have to ask and answer. Are we really content with these movies? Are we so starved of good material that we accept anything even if it is bad? Are those around us even aware of this practise? What are the new gender roles (if there is any exclusivity to one sex anymore) we wish to see and how do we go about getting them into films we want to see?  Of course there’s the big one, what do women  really want to see in movies? But in this day and age, when society is rapidly becoming  more accepting and embracing differences, is it one just for women to answer?

Also see: 50 Shades of Grey vs. The Bronze Horseman by Littlebells

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http://thehathorlegacy.com/

[1] http://thehathorlegacy.com/why-film-schools-teach-screenwriters-not-to-pass-the-bechdel-test/

[2] http://thehathorlegacy.com/why-discriminate-if-it-doesnt-profit/

[3] http://thehathorlegacy.com/nobody-knows-anything-but-dont-tell-the-financiers/

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52 Responses to “What Women Want From Films”

  1. Comic Relief May 1, 2013 at 10:19 AM #

    Ozzie,

    I love the scope and how much you have not only refined this topic. It’s (the article, topic and environment) is so pregnant with potential, opportunity, and areas for advancement that I’m sure this article can’t help but inspire some constructive good.

    Can’t wait for the discussion.

    • ozzie20 May 2, 2013 at 7:03 PM #

      Thank you CR! 🙂

  2. littlebells May 1, 2013 at 10:31 PM #

    i’ll tell you what this woman wants in films: intrigue, intelligence, action that is BELIEVABLE, romance, wholesome comedy, substance, strong male/female roles (even if one starts out weak and then metamorphosis into a confident character), ethics, morals and high standards, and something that makes me reflect and do some introspection. 🙂

    • Open Book May 2, 2013 at 6:59 PM #

      I will second that motion.

      • ozzie20 May 2, 2013 at 7:14 PM #

        Yup, me too.

  3. Comic Relief May 2, 2013 at 12:22 PM #

    It’s hard to disagree with Jennifer Kesler given that content is what we see at the theatres. Given the processes and culture of advanced pre-screenings and focus groups; I’m surprised there aren’t more fan repositories of content preference when it comes to film.

  4. Open Book May 2, 2013 at 7:07 PM #

    “It seems that most writers, directors, producers and actors are trying to chip away at this out dated belief. But what about us, the general movie going population?”

    I think consumers need to check their values. I know its easy to use films to escape but they can also be used to inspire, empower and educate. So I think the general movie going audience need to choose what values they want to support.

  5. Open Book May 2, 2013 at 7:07 PM #

    Hi Everyone!

    • ozzie20 May 2, 2013 at 7:17 PM #

      Hi OB! 🙂

  6. parisienne May 2, 2013 at 7:14 PM #

    Hi Everyone!

    Let me read and catch up. 🙂

  7. littlebells May 2, 2013 at 7:16 PM #

    Hi everyone! I am off to a friends BBQ, but will be back tomorrow because I love the topic! Can’t wait to read the discussion. Have a great night! 🙂

    • ozzie20 May 2, 2013 at 7:17 PM #

      Hope you have fun LB!

    • Open Book May 2, 2013 at 7:19 PM #

      Have Fun!

  8. parisienne May 2, 2013 at 7:17 PM #

    Ozzie,

    Awesome article!

    • ozzie20 May 2, 2013 at 7:21 PM #

      Thank you Paris! 🙂

    • Open Book May 2, 2013 at 7:22 PM #

      Hi Paris & Oz!

      • parisienne May 2, 2013 at 7:23 PM #

        Hi OB!

        • ozzie20 May 2, 2013 at 7:26 PM #

          Hi Paris!

  9. Open Book May 2, 2013 at 7:17 PM #

    “Are we so starved of good material that we accept anything even if it is bad?”

    Yes & No. I think female consumers are starved for substantive female characters and stories. It was hard to know what women wanted 10 years ago before social media but today women can get together and by word of mouth make a film successful or not successful.

  10. parisienne May 2, 2013 at 7:18 PM #

    The problem is that the “Pre-pubescent boys” have power. They don’t care what the people want to see because they KNOW that whatever they put out the public will see. If you feed the public garbage long enough that’s all they will want. They will shun the excellent, in-depth, make you question yourself cinema when it comes along because they are trained to.

    • Open Book May 2, 2013 at 7:21 PM #

      So essentially your saying u are what u eat. Right?

      Do u think its possible to change people who use to eating garbage to want to eat health food?

      • parisienne May 2, 2013 at 7:22 PM #

        Of course. It must be done very slowly though otherwise there will be a total shun.

        • Open Book May 2, 2013 at 7:27 PM #

          Do u think social media can be used effectively to accelerate the transition? If so can u give me an example?

          • parisienne May 2, 2013 at 7:38 PM #

            I do. An example, start by putting films in webisodes on the internet.

            • Open Book May 2, 2013 at 7:44 PM #

              Oh! I like that idea. It would also be cool if consumers could discuss a film as well.

    • ozzie20 May 2, 2013 at 7:55 PM #

      I totally agree with you Paris. I think some people are happy take the easy option.

      OB, I think it is like fast food vs healthy food or gourmet food!

      • Open Book May 2, 2013 at 9:07 PM #

        I think easy anything stunts creativity and growth. People who watch fast food films would be better off eating silly putty. At least u would have some interesting colors to choose from.

        • ozzie20 May 2, 2013 at 9:15 PM #

          ROTFLMAO!!!

  11. Open Book May 2, 2013 at 7:34 PM #

    Ozzie-

    What films in the last 5 years have u found to be empowering for women? Also, are films in the UK different in the US when it comes to showing empowering female characters in films?

    • ozzie20 May 2, 2013 at 7:38 PM #

      This may take some time! I’m on extra slow mode today. My brain is refusing to work still!

      • Open Book May 2, 2013 at 7:45 PM #

        No worries Oz! Take your time.

        • ozzie20 May 2, 2013 at 8:04 PM #

          I’m not sure about tv in America but for older women in UK tv it’s hard. There’s been a number of outcries in the last few years.

          Still thinking….

          • Open Book May 2, 2013 at 8:22 PM #

            Outcries for stronger female characters?

            • ozzie20 May 2, 2013 at 8:36 PM #

              Sorry, I meant older women being fired and younger women brought in. Usually it’s happens in reality tv and news programs. Alot of people complain about it, which is a very good sign.

              • Open Book May 2, 2013 at 8:40 PM #

                See the more people speak out the sooner things will change. Are women in the UK considered old once they reach 30? What’s the age women are considered old in the UK?

                • ozzie20 May 2, 2013 at 9:13 PM #

                  I think for News and reality tv it’s about 50 – 60 years of age, which I guess is a good sign that we’re moving forward on ageism. But for me (and the people complaining) even if a woman is 60+ years old they shouldn’t be fired for that. Not when we’ve still got men presenting shows in their 70’s or 80’s.

        • ozzie20 May 2, 2013 at 8:29 PM #

          Urgh, I ended up having to look up British films in the end. By the looks of things, I think sexism in UK films is the same as the US.

  12. Open Book May 2, 2013 at 7:39 PM #

    Do u think a film like “Pretty Women” would be supported by female moviegoers today?

    • ozzie20 May 2, 2013 at 8:11 PM #

      I’m not sure. It’s not my thing so I wouldn’t go see it. I watched it for the first time a few months back and I only watched it because it’s a classic!

      • Open Book May 2, 2013 at 8:34 PM #

        Its funny well not funny but when this film came out in 1990 in the USA sexual harassment cases were at an all time hime. Do u think “Pretty Women” helped or hurt women in the workplace during this period?

        • ozzie20 May 2, 2013 at 8:50 PM #

          It came out in 1990? I thought it was a few years older! Again I’m not sure. On one hand, I think it makes a good point that you shouldn’t judge people but on the other, it’s not really realistic.

          • Open Book May 2, 2013 at 9:02 PM #

            Yep it came out in 1990. ITA it had its good points regarding not to judge superficially.

  13. parisienne May 2, 2013 at 7:52 PM #

    Ladies,

    I’m heading out for evening. TTYL!

    • ozzie20 May 2, 2013 at 7:56 PM #

      Talk to you later Paris. Have fun!

    • Open Book May 2, 2013 at 8:01 PM #

      Goodnight Paris!

  14. Open Book May 2, 2013 at 8:01 PM #

    Everyone-

    Do u think film festivals could be a way to change content in mainstream films if consumers had more social media accessibility to these festivals? Meaning they could pay to see a film online and discuss it in forums etc. What do u think?

    • ozzie20 May 2, 2013 at 8:16 PM #

      It’s a good idea and I think it would be a good start. I’m just wondering how much advertisment would be needed in the gossip rags to get the word out, lol!

      • Open Book May 2, 2013 at 8:20 PM #

        LOL! U are terrible. Sad but true!

        • ozzie20 May 2, 2013 at 8:31 PM #

          🙂 I think the ad space needed may take the whole magazine. Possibly a complimentary hammer just to make sure it goes in!

          • Open Book May 2, 2013 at 8:37 PM #

            Hahahaha! This is hilarious. Goodness! I like the hammer idea. LOL!

  15. Open Book May 2, 2013 at 9:10 PM #

    Ozzie- I have to go. It was a great topic, discussion and wonderful research. I really hope people read your references. Excellent!

    Have a great evening!

    • ozzie20 May 2, 2013 at 9:14 PM #

      Thank you OB! Hope you have a good night!

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