July 28, 2008

Women at Comic-Con

The geek fest better known as Comic-Con was held this last weekend in San Diego. It used to be that guys and guy films dominated, but no more. This year women made up 40% of attendees and the upcoming Catherine Hardwicke film Twilight based on the novel by Stephanie Meyer has the women present in a frenzy and the guy critics scratching their heads. Anne Thompson at Variety asks: Twilight: Will Male Critics Ever Understand Its Femme Appeal?

Here's what she writes when discussing the dismal stats released last week about female film critics:

And the coverage that movies with femme appeal do get from male critics is not the necessarily as positive or understanding as that from female critics. Mamma, Mia! and Sex in the City would be recent examples. Why would a guy particularly engage with a romantic comedy like 27 Dresses? Professional film critics will argue that it is their job to know how to review such a movie. Let's put it this way. Some men are better able to adopt the female POV, and tap into their femme side, than others. Many men are not trained to do see things from the perspective of the opposite sex. All women are.

That's one reason why today's movies are so geared toward men, while women starve for material aimed at them. Women are accustomed to going along and accepting slim pickings in pictures by and about men. Even at Comic-Con, there's a sense that female fans are yearning for romance. The screaming response to Twilight's Brit heartthrob Robert Pattinson was enormous. He could be the next Leo di Caprio after Titanic, if Twilight hits as big as I suspect it will.
I agree with Anne. One problem I find is that women critics don't necessarily want to be known as women critics, just like I've met many women directors who don't want to be known as women directors. News flash -- if things were equal it would be ok if you wanted to just be known as a critic or a director and it would be awesome. But in my world no matter what we want to believe women critics and women directors can't escape the "woman" label. We have to understand that we might be seeing a film from a different perspective and not think that it makes us less than, it just makes us different. And we need to support other women. I'm not saying that you should write a good review for a bad movie, but I am saying that we should try and review movies the guys might dismiss and not be interested in just because they come from a female perspective. That shouldn't be too hard.

Here's a report from USA Today on Comic-Con
Otter represents another shift in the comic-book movie universe: an influx of women. Over the years, female attendance at Comic-Con has grown, this year reaching a record of nearly 40%, perhaps reflecting increasing involvement of women in the filmmaking.

"It was getting depressing," says Rose McGowan, who will play the title comic-book vixen in Red Sonja, due in 2010. "I was getting scripts to play the straight man to the straight man. But lately, we're seeing more scripts that allow us to kick (butt). Comic books have always been good about it, and now movies seem to be catching on."

Deborah Del Prete, producer of Frank Miller's Spirit, has been coming to Comic-Con since she was 8 years old. Usually, she was asked if she was looking for Wonder Woman comics.

"Now they ask me what I'm working on," she says. "We're seeing a partnership in making these movies we never saw before. I say it's about time people recognize women enjoy comics and comic-book movies as much as any other fan."

Mila Kunis, who plays an assassin in the video game adaptation Max Payne, says Hollywood is finally mirroring the times.

"If you ask me, they're a little slow in catching up with the rest of the world," she says. "I'm really glad for movies like Wanted and Underworld, because it's casting us as mainstream heroes.

"But come on. It wasn't that long ago when we thought a woman was going to be the Democratic nominee for president. We should have been at this place a long time ago."