Screenwriters are starting to realize they can't make every female in their scripts hopelessly attracted to every man they meet. Casting Directors are starting to see why it's a problem when they cast a female love interest younger than their male counterpart's pacemaker.
Those are the people making films. And it would seem that they're making the effort to do justice to their female characters.
But what about the people who see them?
Sure, filmmakers may churn out sexist crap, but aren't they just making what the audience wants to see? What the critics can digest?
Let's take a look at Matthew Vaughn's Kingsman: The Secret Service. It has a standard enough premise. Gary "Eggsy" Unwin, an underprivileged young man, has his life changed forever when he finds out the truth about his identity. Thrust into a life of action and adventure, Eggsy must overcome insurmountable odds to save the world.
The Wachowskis' Jupiter Ascending is the story of Jupiter Jones, an underprivileged young woman, who has her life changed forever when she finds out the truth about her identity. Thrust into a life of action and adventure, Jupiter must overcome insurmountable odds to save the...you get my point.
So what's the difference between the two movies? Well, not much. Sure, you can argue different settings, tone and themes. But when they're both boiled down, their plots follow identical arcs. Intrinsically, the only major difference between these two movies is the gender of the lead characters. Beyond the screen, the only difference is that only one film was praised.
Whereas Jupiter Ascending was heavily criticized for it's "nonsensical plot", the majority of Kingsman's critics felt that while the plot lacked grounding, it didn't matter because it was "a good time" and shouldn't be taken too seriously. Whereas Jupiter Ascending was panned for a lack of character development, Kingsman somehow gets away with a villain who's main attribute is speaking with a lisp.
I'm not saying that I enjoyed Jupiter Ascending more than I enjoyed Kingsman. The movie did have it's flaws. I am, however, asking the question "why is outlandish wish-fulfillment only excusable for a male-led movie?"
Do critics, and in fact, audiences find hedonism easier to digest when it's being exemplified by a male lead?
When I asked my friends how they felt about the ending of Jupiter Ascending, when Mila Kunis' character flies into the sunset with her half canine love interest, they thought it was "cheesy," "lame" and "unrealistic."It might not be the best ending in all of cinematic history, but is the Kingsman's ending any better? For those of you who don't know, the film ends with Eggsy having anal sex with the crown princess of Sweden.
And this isn't just for these two films. Take Tomorrowland and Clash of the Titans (2010), for example. Both films center around two young protagonists with mundane lives who are recruited to save humanity.
Critics gave mixed reviews to both films. Audiences, however, seemed to favor one.
Clash of the Titans made nearly $500 million against a $125 million budget, whereas Tomorrowland only grossed $200 million against a $190 million budget.
So even though Hollywood is making female-led action movies, it seems that critics and audiences alike seem to favor nonsensical, wish-fulfilemnt flicks when they're being helmed by male leads.
This phenomenon could exist for several reasons. Maybe it's a genre-specific issue. Dystopian, female-led franchises like The Hunger Games and Divergent appease both critics and audiences alike. Maybe Directors going for female-led escapism just have trouble fleshing out their visions.
And maybe it's just that we as critics and audiences aren't used to seeing a girl go on an adventure of epic proportions and save the world.
In either scenario, these films aren't going to stop coming anytime soon. So you can either grab hold and fly off into the sunset, or take it up the ass.
I suggest the former.