I glanced at a headline in that most reliable of papers, USA Today recently and it stated that, while The Matrix: Reloaded had a veritable plethora of important female roles, not many women were taking in the movie for some reason. I know quite a few women (my mother included), who enjoyed the first movie quite a lot. Mom tends to wait for movies to hit one of the sixty thousand satellite channels that she and pater get on the motor home’s satellite system (or for me to get them on DVD and send them out their way), but she informed me that, at sixty*cough* years old, ma was going to pay her $9.00 to see it on the big screen.
Who’s telling the majority of moviegoing women that Matrix: Reloaded isn’t their cup of tea and to, instead, go knit booties or whatever they’re doing? Nobody. But – check this – Oprah’s not had the cast on her overinfluential talk show and last time I checked she wasn’t starting a movie club to expand her direction-giving empire. (Anita Shreve is breathing a sigh of relief at the moment for that one, I’m sure.)
That network for the ladies, Lifetime has a library of movies that seem to feature A) women being beaten, B) women being raped, or C) women stranted in the middle of nowhere. I’m sure there’s a score of these fine direct-to-TV films that feature women being raped, beaten, and left in the wilds of Norway to fend for themselves. Sure, the leads in these always get their revenge, but it’s in a court of law and a warm-hearted, handsome DA (hi, Harry Hamlin) or supportive husband (hi, Dean Cain) saves the day and restores the woman’s life in the end.
Now, Cosmo and its ilk, outside of featuring ways to do your nails and hit the G-spot, do occasionally feature people like Alias waif Jennifer Garner, but really – doesn’t she always look like she’s about to cry at any moment on her show? Seriously, look at her. Big, dewey eyes welled with tears and a gun in her hand. Wuss. You’re a fuckin’ secret agent who makes La Femme Nikita’s Peta Wilson look like an Armenian Weightlifter, for god’s sake! Any cheering for that sort of thing can be quickly hushed up when you realize that they still worship Bridget Jones in an unnatural way and you just know that Helen Fielding wants it that way. (Yes, I think Bridget Jones’s Diary is very, very funny but seminal, life changing stuff? No, but neither is Nick Hornby who’s so totally the guy equivalent of her.)
As a guy, I guess I have no right to bitch about female role models (especially when the magazine Bitch does it with much more rancor than I could ever produce), but I have to say this – I’ll take Princess Leia, Trinity, or Miranda Zero and the girls in Warren Ellis’s Global Frequency over Buffy or Sydney any day of the week. Better yet, how about people like Jane Goodall, Katherine Graham (RIP), and Gloria Steinem occasionally getting props from these major magazines and media empires? It’s OK for a woman to not be a size three and super-sensitive to kick ass.
(Yes, I am aware that Carrie Ann Moss weighs about 20 pounds and a good, stiff breeze would carry her a country mile. Shut up. She could still hand me my ass with or without wires.)