Seanan McGuire (seanan_mcguire) wrote,
Seanan McGuire

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More marginalization of women in media.

I just got home from an afternoon showing of Now You See Me, chosen both because I wanted to see the movie, and because it's a swelteringly hot June day here in Northern California; we were hiding from the sun. A fun little caper movie about magicians robbing banks seemed like just the way to go. Plus, air conditioning.

I got half of what I wanted: I got air conditioning. I will be as spoiler-free as I can, but I am unhappy.

The setup of the movie is thus: four magicians, all of whom are awesome in their solo acts, are Recruited To Do Something. This isn't a spoiler; it's the premise, which leads to them teaming up and being awesome and also robbing banks and shit (all in the trailers). We have a mentalist, a classic slight-of-hand trickster, an escape artist, and a pickpocket/misdirectionist. As they start to do their shit, they are pursued by an FBI agent, an Interpol agent, a professional debunker, and a dude who got robbed.

Of the characters listed above, two are female. They never speak to each other. No, never. No, not even then. There are two secondary female characters, who also never speak to each other (one is there purely to be a pretty status symbol). The female magician is the only one who never gets an awesome moment where her field of magic, her specialization is both key to the plan and saves the day. Literally the first thing one of the other magicians says to her is "you're pretty."


Now here's the thing: while I disagree that some roles are particularly "gendered," I can accept that right now, in our current media climate, you will want at least 75% of your romances to be between characters of opposite genders. I don't like it, but I will roll with it. And that being said, there was not a single fucking character in this movie who needed to be male. Make the smug team leader a girl, and make the ex-girlfriend an ex-boyfriend! Make the action character a girl (I basically spent every moment one of the magicians was on screen wishing he would turn into Beth Reisgraf). Make more than one important member of your team a fucking female.

And we now stand, again, at the edge of one of my biggest complaints about media today: a team with three men and one women wasn't seen as imbalanced, but the opposite team would have been. It's very possible that even a two-and-two team would have been seen as dominated by women. I am not calling for gender equality in every movie. I saw The Fast and the Furious 6 earlier this month; it was male-dominated, and it was fantastic. Not without its issues—what is?—but well-balanced, casting-wise, with multiple interesting, nuanced female characters who were allowed to interact.

When I go on these "why was so-and-so a guy" rants, someone always says "would you have this complaint if the cast were exactly gender reversed?", and I always say no. I still say no. Because there are so many male-dominated action movies and caper flicks and summer blockbusters that adding a few female-dominated examples would not be "reverse discrimination," it would be balancing the backlog. What I really want is gender neutrality. I want a team of two girls and two guys robbing banks with slight-of-hand and being awesome, rather than another movie that reduces me to a prize or a non-entity.

It's exhausting being this unhappy all the time.

The media won't let me stop.
Tags: contemplation, cranky blonde is cranky, media addict

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