vampire baseball

Sometimes, in this industry, it pours.  When it pours, you have no time to sit and write a chatty blog entry, and you’re exuberantly happy because you’re working, working, working, and it feels great.  Other times, it just drizzles, and you procrastinate on doing the busy work that you should have done weeks ago, and you’re avoiding revisions on that pilot script that isn’t working just yet, and you’re pondering over characters and you decide to watch a movie to get some inspiration.  And then…chatty blog entry!

This past weekend was a marathon of movies, and many of those movies featured women, which was awesome. Among others, I watched Hanna, Young Adult, and at long last, after years and years of resisting…I watched Twilight. Yes I did.

There’s absolutely nothing about the Twilight series that I find interesting.  A love triangle between a vampire and a werewolf and a very pale girl with a twitch?  Nah. And yet, it was on TV, and I watched it.  To be totally honest, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be.  Because I read Entertainment Weekly, I know waaaay too much about the series as it is, spoilers and all.  So, I watched it, and the most exciting parts of the movie were the badass baseball game, and seeing my former professor’s name in the credits (yeay, Nancy Richardson!).  Other than that, what exactly happened in the movie?  Bella moved to a rainy town and, because of her superfresh blood, caught the attention of a perpetually adolescent vampire.  Angst and confusing messages about teenage sexuality ensued.  People have told me all about why Twilight is awesome, and other people have told me about how Twilight is the worst thing to happen to womankind since Rush Limbaugh, and I won’t rehash all the arguments here.  Suffice it to say, the plot was terribly boring, mainly because our protagonist didn’t have anything to do.  Bella didn’t even get to play baseball.  She’d be an easy out anyway, I guess.

Compare and contrast this flaw, if you will, with the fantastic Hanna.  It always makes my blood boil when filmmakers fetishize an otherwise badass female character by making her shoot a gun while wearing stilettos or skintight leather.  Why can’t a badass female character carry a gun and be an action star and do it in comfortable, practical, ass-kicking-appropriate clothing?  Hanna gets to do just that.  Saoirse Ronan’s performance was pitch-perfect and believable, and she got to be a full, flawed, interesting character while still wielding a mean right hook.  I loved this movie.  Hanna didn’t sit still at all.  The fight in the shipyard, amongst the containers, set to a pulsing Chemical Brothers score?  This is why I love movies.  As a child, and even nowadays, I tend to identify with the male characters in movies more than the female ones, because most male protagonists are often dynamic, interesting, and they get to do all the coolest stuff.  What do the women get to do?  Most often, they get to be stereotypes.  How is that fun?

And Young Adult, starring Charlize Theron, is FUN.  I’m sure the filmmakers got plenty of flak for an “unlikeable” female character.  What’s not to like?  She was foul-mouthed, drunk, unhappy, flawed, and hilarious.  I loved spending time with her, and I’m glad the filmmakers didn’t pull any punches in the final few scenes.  I know for my film, Troublemaker, I got a lot of notes from people telling me that Rekha, the lead character, was too harsh, too bitchy, to hard to like.  Give her a dog, they said, or a cat, or give her a child, so we have some sympathy for her, and we can see that someone has a reason to love her.  And granted, Charlize (first-name basis, me and her) does have a dog in Young Adult, but she’s detached from it almost to the point of neglect, so that certainly doesn’t work as a device to make her likable.  Anthony Breznican, in Entertainment Weekly, interviewed Charlize about Young Adult.  He says, “while the evil that men do thrives in cinematic history (think Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver or Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood), it’s rare to find the distaff version of those characters – chaotic, self-absorbed, and delusional women who are nonetheless fascinating and maybe even touching.”  There have always been those brave filmmakers and actors who write full, complex female characters, but “rarely” is the right word to describe how often we see them make it to the mainstream.

Men are always allowed to be messed up on-screen, and for some reason, we have a natural sympathy for them.  I say, let’s get the women equally messed up, and more and more, we’ll find that we can sympathize with them equally.  Hell, some of us can even throw a ball.


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