Wanted: Female Icons to teach Film Journos a lesson

by Ian aka GayAsXmas

Thanks to Alyssa for giving me the opportunity to blog here. I am coming to you (sort of) live and direct from London.

Not to get things off to a negative start or anything, but I am going to be complaining about something in my first post.

I grew up reading Empire movie magazine – from about the ages of 15 to 21 I read it pretty religiously every month. I always liked the magazine’s vibe, which seemed smart, irreverent and entertaining without being crass. I fell out of the habit of reading it, but Empire has maintained and consolidated its position as the leading film magazine in the UK. The magazine is celebrating it 20th Anniversary and has put together a portfolio of movie stars ‘recreating’ some of their most famous roles. I would urge you to have a quick peek and then come back.

Leaving aside how flat and uninspiring the portfolio is as a whole, you’ll also probably notice that Empire seems to believe that in 20 years, no solo woman or group of women deserve a place in the porfolio. Keira Knightley and Jodie Foster are the only two women included, and they are paired with a male co-star. While understandable in Foster’s case, the Knightley one is more puzzling. However good she and James McAvoy were together in Atonement, she is a much more of a decade defining star then McAvoy with Bend it Like Beckham, Pride and Prejudice and the Pirate movies to her credit. She doesn’t need a man in the photo with her.

A quick list of actresses that Empire could have included who have created truly iconic characters in the last 20 years include Kate Winslet, Nicole Kidman, Cameron Diaz, Michelle Yeoh, Frances McDormand, Julia Roberts, Ziyi Zhang, Angela Bassett, Meryl Streep, Hilary Swank. And that is without even thinking it through that much.

This is important. Empire is creating a narrative about the last twenty years that almost completely precludes the inclusion of female stars and the characters they play. Women’s place in modern, mainstream film is already horribly misrepresented by the overwhelming male dominance at the top of the various media food chains. It doesn’t help redress matters when the leading film magazine in the UK decides that they simply aren’t as important as their male counterparts. The entire idea, which should have been a celebration of iconoclastic mainstream figures is an epic fail.

Update: As Leee pointed out in comments, I did actually completely skip over Emma Watson in that list. Luckily she was included in a group shot with her Harry Potter co-stars so my point isn’t completely shot to hell!