The Paradox Of Strong Female Characters And Distorted Feminism In Movies

At first, although it has good intentions but it stills contains the trick: "Strong Female Characters" has gradually turned into a form that harms rather than inspires female audiences.

Of all the elements of social justice, the fight for gender equality is the longest and most powerful one. With the rise of feminists, these followers didn't hesitate to make reckless and, challenging claims. They quickly spread the story of the strong woman through print , movies, TV shows or even in video games. They hopefully think that young girls will have more role models to prove to them that somewhere out there, which is still exist a life easily , break away from the traditional structure of women.

At first, although it has good intentions but it stills contains the trick: "Strong Female Characters" has gradually turned into a form that harms rather than inspires female audiences. Moreover, they create discomfort and frustration for both men and women. As the film industry continues to churn out films with the "Woke" label, audiences have shied away from feminist films.

To answer the question of why most of us are not very interested in SFC, this review will delve into the history of the construction, development and spread of female characters as well as look at some movies, related publications to gain a better understanding of what it means to be an SFC.


The image of a weak woman in the past

Since the creation of cinema, female characters have always been highlighted by traditional and patriarchal views on gender. A small, weak sex object in need of rescue, a reflection of male dominance as well as strength. In the article “Wonder Woman: Super heroes, Not Super heroes” from the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, Peter Coogan discusses Angel Island, a story written by writer Inez Haynes Gillmore .

In the story, the sailors fell in love with winged women from an isolated island where they were shipwrecked. Not wanting to lose dominion, the sailors cut off the women's wings. The magnitude of this masculine dominance began a disturbing trait that would enforce gender norms and appear in various films. The form of this female character was famous in the era of Silent or Black and White movies. At that moment, men stood behind the camera and let the actresses acted seductively or screamed in horror. Their role as "lovers", as secondary characters, they could only react to the actions their male partner takes. Even if they had a role other than “lover” it was often used as a pastime. Neither the female characters nor the women who played them were taken seriously.


The rise of cinema about feminism

Starting with La Souriante Madame Beudet (The Smiling Madame Beudet) directed by Germaine Dulac, the feminist film genre was gradually born. Here, the female characters are no longer seen as objects of lust, but as heroes in their own stories.

For Annette Kuhn, who is the author of “The State of Feminism in Film and Media, which known as a feminist film. The film is more than a work that promotes its values ​​(such as gender equality, feminism, defiance, patriarchal) but also creates a narrative in a context that can originally highlight feminist issues, in addition to exploring the ways in which both genders apply when enjoying films.  Along with the story and a strong female lead, the goal of feminist films is to appeal to female audiences, giving them a fresh alternative that goes beyond the traditional point of view.


The creativity and paradox of strong female characters

The creation of SFC is a direct product copy of Hero - characters derived from old legends or myths. Famous heroes like Thor or Hercules are known for their physical strength, becoming inspirational role models for young men to demonstrate their bravery and toughness.

In fact, Dr. L. Pike admits in his article, "Heracles: Superman and Personal Relationships" that the media has determined that they must be weak, feminine, and emotionally- moved and they must be saved by the leading actors countless times. It's obvious that the leading actresses reflects masculine traits. Collaborated with six authors, the book- talk about books: Strong Female Characters in Children's Literature outlines the criteria for an SFC. One of them includes the fact that the female character has more or less moved away from the inherent stereotypes about women.

Looking at the example of Carol Danvers from Captain Marvel and Rey from the recent Star Wars trilogy, the SFC is stronger than her male counterpart in every possible way as well as without any weaknesses (Neal Curtis, Superheroes and Heroes Third generation feminism). Yet both were rejected by the audience, of course, this is not the only example. Several other films containing the SFC received equally negative reactions from both men and women for being "too political" and "feminist".

However, Wonder Woman and Alita Battle Angel, two works that own SFC are exceptions. But there are still opinions that these characters are considered weak because they go against feminist ideals. (Kyle D. Killian, Wonder Woman is, and is not, a feminist superhero movie)

Carina Chocano and other screenwriters argue that the weakness of these heroines is what makes them human and more noticeable to audiences. This has motivated movie enthusiasts like Kimberly R, Moffitt to explain this paradox. In the article, "Scripting a 21st Century Disney Princess in The Princess and the Frog",  she highlights how Disney blatantly "celebrated" their first black princess, when in fact Tiana was a green frog in eighty percent of the film's length.


The "Wake Up" Problem

What Moffit describes as “Wokeness,” is a sloppiness that most major film companies make when they incorporate social issues like race and gender into their productions without conscious effort. Therefore, it received the hate of the majority of the audience. The feminist themes in these “Woke” films would be coerced as if the screenwriters rushed to bring them into the story at the last minute.

Some good examples are Captain Marvel, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ghost Busters (2016) Birds of Prey, Little Women, Charlie's Angels. Aladdin, Isn't It Romantic? And the list goes on and on. These movies are listed simply because audiences hate them or because they "sink" the box office and are too out of date with feminist themes and many similar reasons, or maybe both.

So the question is, "Do these feminist films fail because of sexist audiences?"

It would be naive to say that a few percent of the movie-watching population are sexists. However, that percentage is really small. Most men today are interested in women, or at least in the West. If you look at Birds of Prey, for example, feminists on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are constantly blaming men for the film's poor performance at the box office. But the main thing that they don't realize is the fault of the people who have made the movie. They are the people who promote the film as a feminist film, they are the writers of the story, and they are the ones who lack material consideration to the point of forcing their protagonists into a story that is not part of the Birds of Prey comic book. That's one of the reasons why fans (male and female) hate the movie and don't want to go to theaters, because the trailers reveal it all.

In “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The way' Shakespeare and the Renaissance Are Discarding Feminism” of Courtney Lehmann, he found that feminists were more concerned with equal airtime than they actually fought for equal rights. Eventually it concluded that feminism was dead.

Going back to Kuhn's definition of a feminist film, the film should have a story in that context. From the design of the world to the interweaving themes related to the characters' experiences, all aspects of the story must reflect the problems women have experienced in different facets of the world, thereby, spreading awareness and proving to the audience that feminism is still an important issue to fight for.

Origin feminism is a movement with good purposes such as spreading awareness about sexism, fighting for equality and empowering women and girls. However, the films that the media promotes do not reflect this background. Instead, they misrepresent and distort their message.

It's the combination of greedy movie companies that don't really care about the core issue and the unrealistic ideals of feminism that make the feminism part of so many films so artificial and forced squeeze. It's like the screenwriters are trying to cram it into a story that has nothing to do with any aspect of the problem. It is because of the obvious difference between the topic and the story that the female characters are gradually inferior, less interesting and most importantly, lack of connection to the audience.



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