Thursday, February 28, 2013

An Immodest Proposal

As franchises traditionally dismissed for their lack of meaningful content, such as comic books and video games, become more prevalent in modern entertainment and gain more respect as revenue generating properties in major media arenas, the involvement of women has become increasingly fraught with bold and rampant misogyny. The relentless and pervasive sexism leveled at actresses cast to portray these super heroes, these goddesses, has exacerbated already heated arguments about the place of women in fandom, in genre creation, and in media, and has taken a toll on everyone's ability to enjoy these fun, silly movies that are actually quite important to us all.

It seems that the one thing all the points of contention have in common, of course, are women themselves, and so, though we cannot do so in real life or daily interactions, insofar as the screen goes, I feel we are left with only one solution to please all parties, as well as perhaps save the VFX community in a single stroke.

Cast only dead actresses.

Or at the very least, actresses whose careers have passed into their twilights and ended and who won't be needing them anymore. It's clear from endeavors such as the recent Galaxy chocolate commercial starring Audrey Hepburn, looking particularly idealized and even shapely, to Marilyn Monroe's speaking, cameo appearance in this past holiday season's J'adore Diore campaign, that this is economically feasible, a sure way to generate buzz if not acclaim and, of course, a decision of the highest artistic merit. Why cast a mere human person in the role of Spider-Man's Mary Jane Watson, a rebel teen turned super model who so fully and perfectly embodies the sex object promised all young men in classic Western narratives, when one could cast instead Ann-Margret at the height of her vibrancy, youth and sex appeal?
Poor Shailene Woodley, with her pretty but not perfectly rendered face and modern-Hollywood-acceptable proportions, can never truly fill out the role of Mary Jane Watson- but then, what living soul could? Megan Fox would be a contender, although she is clearly far too old to tackle the role, and though our Mary Jane did have some wild years in her youth, there would doubtless be some questions raised as to Fox's suitability to portray such a championed, cherished character as Mary Jane, what with Fox's history as a notorious harlot. While Shailene brings a fresh-facedness to the role, young Ann-Margret looks much more like the John Romita illustration Spider-Man purists deserve to see on screen, and what's truly compelling about the idea of casting an actress who exists and yet is not real is that the parts of her that are inaccurate- eye color, hair color, measurements- can be changed by clever artists at a computer and don't have to be left up to anything as messy and faulty as chemistry or contact lenses.

Surely, this is the best course. None would dare speak ill of the charms or talents of such names as Lauren Bacall, Rita Hayworth or Natalie Wood! Their eternal, preserved luster and Hollywood legend would enrich the flashy and colorful superhero movies that critics seem so hellbent on dismissing; the characters we love so much would be represented by the greatest, most incontrovertible beauties of the age, none of whom would desire input on their performances or costuming; indeed, all misogyny and sexism would most probably come to a full stop, as no one would be taking cheap shots at what any actress did or didn't look like in comparison to how they ought to, if they thought they had any business playing the role. By removing anything but the most idealized, easily controlled residue of women from the process, all controversy is smoothed away and problems solved!

Now, some might hold up Scarlett Johansson's recent turn as the Black Widow and Anne Hathaway's performance as Selina Kyle as examples of why active or living starlets should continue to be cast in these very important, visible roles, and in all fairness they are examples of success. However, they also have the ability to derail press conferences and interviews, to demand more money for subsequent films, to age- the list of detriments to using living, working actresses in real time are just about innumerable. It is true that in this day and age they could mo-cap (motion capture performance, for those of you not versed in modern filmmaking parlance) their performances as themselves, but this would become potentially confusing during awards season, a headache nobody needs.

To truly have the heroines of our youth in film in a manner the audience deserves, nay, demands, there can be no better method than this. Now that we have finally found the great film heroes we deserve in Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Christian Bale and, of course, Ryan Reynolds, it's time we generated the leading ladies to match.

Elizabeth Taylor as Wonder Woman, or no Wonder Woman at all.

 utter perfection


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