Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Women in Movies

"Watching a fossil like Shayla LaVeaux makes me grateful that former Vivid girl Savannah blew her head off while still young and beautiful. No porn girl should work past 30."

That's a quote from Adam Film World Guide's 2007 Adult Film & Video Directory. Can you believe in this day and age some two-bit reviewer can get away with such shite? It really is pathetic more than anything else. Like the dying gasps of a fish out of water. No wonder I usually just look at the pictures in those magazines, with crap text like that!

While definitely nothing quite incendiary as what's quoted above, I have read reviews of mainstream movies that came off as nothing more than petty femme-bashing rather than critical analysis. One of Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider saying that she strutted around like she thought she was so great (so what?). Or one review of Original Sin, another Jolie feature, which I thought was one of the best portrayals of a woman caught in the web of her own overpowering sexuality, which described it as silly romance novel trite -this time by a woman reviewer. Bias against the femme perspective - eg romance=derogatory - is not limited to men.

But I am gratified to see how many more powerful roles there are for women in film and TV these days. There was such a dearth when I was growing up. It was all about the fetishization of women as victims back then, screaming and tripping in their stilettos. Or two-dimensional, decorative accessories for the men. Besides Meryl Streep, it was pretty much a mini Dark Ages for femmes in cinema during the 80s and early 90s.

Look at films from the 30s, 40s and 50s. Women were often stronger, more opinionated and sexually respected, even if more restrained within gender roles. I remember reading how Julia Roberts during her heyday was the first woman the studios could rely on to carry a movie, whereas actresses like Betty Davis and Joan Crawford were consistent box office superstars in their day.

Maybe I sound a bit out of touch, but I can't stand all the rutting that goes on in Hollywood films today. It just comes off as embarrassing for the actors. Why not just leave it to porn?

Maybe not everyone compartmentalizes like me. But when I want to be turned on in prelude to actual play, I watch XXX-rated scenes. When I want to think, follow plot and conversation, and be stimulated in a more cerebral or emotional way, I watch non-porn fare.

I do love the sizzling sexual tension and double entendres of older films, before everything could be so spelled -- and acted -- out. It's that same sexual tension I can play with in scene. Sometimes repression can be sexy. The unspoken, or the hinted at. Toying with that excitement til you feel like you could burst at the seams. Old-fashioned cinema is like tease and denial.

I've even heard that sex scenes have affected the average height of actresses, because one has to consider how compatible they will look lying horizontally beneath their acting partners.


I have been enjoying the new Terminator series The Sarah Connor Chronicles. When they mentioned the Singularity, the Baghavad Gita and the Manhattan Project -- all in the third episode -- I knew I was seeing something unique on broadcast television: a show which didn't dumb down the big questions.

I may not agree with its seemingly luddite take on the prospect of an emerging machine intelligence, but the questions it raises so dramatically make for extremely compelling viewing. For all the hopes I had for the new Bionic Woman, it looks like the Terminator series is the best current offering within the grrrl power genre.

Though I will never forget how inspiring Linda Hamilton was in T2 with her badass muscles and smoky voice - one of my fellow domme friends says watching her was her first inspiration to work out - Lena Headey creates her own formidable presence as the killer mama of the "savior of mankind."