International Women’s Day: What defines “strong female characters?”

Bend it like Beckham still

OK first point off the bat. Yes I know I am not a woman so hopefully someone will write a response to this but for me this is more looking at different types of character and what Hollywood should take into account going further.

Heroes

It is interesting to see the progression of female protagonists over the years. Frozen proved interesting by looking at the dynamic between sisters but this can overshadow other great examples such as the quirky Lilo from Lilo and Stitch, who to me represents the misunderstood kid that doesn’t always get represented in films or Judy Hopps who in Zootopia manages to overcome prejudice (and confront her own) in order to achieve her ambitions.

Away from animation one thing that bothers me is the fact that only now are we getting a Wonder Woman film after several Batman and Superman reboots. Regardless of your views on this that to me seems incredibly disproportionate. Also a lot of the arguments against making that film (historical setting, fantasy elements, not grounded enough) have been disproved by other films.

More inclusion

Another issue that people rightly bring up is the lack of female representation behind the camera. One thing I found telling was how the Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadra wanted to direct a Bond film. Before someone dismisses this bear in mind Michael Apted specialised in documentaries before directing a Bond film while many other unlikely genre switches have been very successful (most notably the Russo Brothers with the Captain America films).

Backlash

Of course it’s hard to discuss this story without mentioning the controversy of the all-female Ghostbusters reboot last year. What bothered me about the “it’s about reboots not women” argument is the sheer vocal opposition that didn’t apply to Robocop, Total Recall or any number of others. Yes there were objections but not in the same brutal fashion.

Yes the film wasn’t amazing and yes Sony didn’t help themselves with their usual obsession with world building and bizarre marketing strategy. But what it did point to is we need a change of strategy.

Balance

In the wake of the Ghostbusters issue Grace Randolph (Beyond The Trailer) made the reasonable point that we need to be able to show “we can play together.” I happen to believe this is true. A lot of the best stories have a blend of male and female characters such as Buffy, Rogue One and X-Men.

I have been lucky to work with brilliant men and women and I feel that more inclusion and better balance is good for everyone, not just women.

Author: Rob Turner

I love films and I love talking about them, also writer/producer for online comic series Reynard City (www.reynardcity.com)

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