Friday, October 12, 2007

The tale of one brave little hobbit

I'm suffering from insomnia, and the whole bruhaha with Warner Bros. and female leads in action films reminded me of something I wanted to write eons ago.
When I was in junior high, like many others of my age, I read Lord of the Rings. I can at least say that I did read it at the same time as all my class, at it was mandatory reading for that course. And, like many others, I fell in love with Tolkien's careful constructed universe.
But for some reason, call it bad translation, call it that by the end of the first chapter , my version of Lord of the Rings had a very particular difference.
See, I was throughly convinced that Merry was, in fact, a girl hobbit. Not only that, but that 'she' was Pippin's wife.
(Later I found out that I wasn't the only one. A lot of my friends here in Mexico made the same conclusion. So I can blame translation.)
Now, I went through the whole Fellowship and part of the Two Towers with this idea in mind, following brave Merry as she did exactly all the same things that Pippin did, sometimes being braver than he was, and being utterly terrified when the orcs took them, and all that jazz. It wasn't until the beginning of the last battle, when I found out my small mistake.
The thing is, it didn't matter. Merry was equally cool for me as a man as 'she' had been as a woman.
Of course, it was just my childhood version of the Lord of the Rings. But sometimes I wonder, if there had been a woman in the Fellowship, would it have been any less successful? I'm not talking about gender-bendering Aragorn, Frodo, Sam or Boromir -I believe those four really have to be male to work as characters. One of the strongest moments -for me- on the books is when Eowyn kills the Witch King, so we know that Tolkien could write strong women. And while I understand why there weren't any women in the fellowship, I can't stop wondering what if?

In fact... how much of the succsess of some of the great adventure and action epics we all love would change if one of the characters was a women instead of a man?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Because women don't sell.

It's a bit ironic that after my last two entries that were about the cool leading ladies I had found in the two last movies I saw (A trend I plan to continue as I have a couple more 'cool movies' in the to watch list), I come to the net to read that an exec in WB is saying that the company won't produce any more movies with female leads.

It is even more ironic as I had just seen the new Jodie Foster movie trailer, and upon watching it I thought "Wow! that looks like I movie I will love to see in theaters!" (And I'm still on line to see Invaders, just for Nicole Kidman, so there :P)

Now, I'm going to say something someone probably said already, and probably was said better, but I won't feel good with myself unless I say it too. And this is: "What? So the policy changed from 'very few films with leading women characters to no films with leading women characters?" Because a simple search at the IMDB showed that there hasn't been that many films with leading women characters lately distributed by WB, much less 'action' films with leading women characters.

Looking for movies with only a female leading character, that is not equal, or secondary to a male character led me to find... well, Wonder Woman, theoretically for the 2009, but honestly, who can believe that? The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, for 2008, which I guess would be cataloged as a 'chick flick', PS I love you, that is also a romance film, The Invasion, that is one of the quoted films as cause of the decision, Nancy Drew, another family film, The Reaping, and of course, The Brave One. In the 'female lead and male lead' category I can find One Missed Call, unless they seriously change the original script, I guess Sweeny Todd, judging by the trailer. Out of the first 130 titles, not counting tv series like Gossip Girl. So, in truth, this ain't really a change of politics.

But with such a small percentage of movies with lone female protagonist, how can they decide it's a female protagonist the thing that makes those movies go unseen? Doesn't that go against the comic book idea that you need a busty, usually half dressed female character to sell your comic? (Or is it that no Hollywood actress would agree to wear what the superheroines wear?)

I will be honest. I will go and watch The Brave One, and Invasion, not just because I want to see them, but because hell, anything that proves that it's not true that women in movies don't sell is good in my book. And I'll go and watch Sweenny Todd because there's at least one cool female in that trailer. And then? Well, thankfully Stephen King's The Mist isn't by Warner Bros, so I guess I can live without their movies.

Unless of course I find out they make no money out of movies shown in Mexico. Then, I'll have to look another way to vote with my wallet.