Progress, yes, but . . .

[While I don’t think what I’m about to say contains major spoilers, if you haven’t seen Monsters vs. Aliens and you’re planning to, you might not want to read further. Do come back when you’ve seen it, though.]

I went to see Monsters vs. Aliens this morning. Understand, I didn’t go in expecting anything more than cheery animated action for 1½ hours, and that’s mostly what I got–in 3D, even. Unfortunately for my peace of mind, my mindless escapism has triggered observations and thoughts.

Now I admit to feeling a bit grumpy as the movie started. I’d just sat through a whole passel of previews. Some were intriguing, some weren’t (no way am I going to Land of the Lost, but Up has potential). One thing they had in common, though, was that they were about men and/or boys. If there was a woman in the movie, she was the love interest or a sidekick. Also, there was just one woman per movie. I’d seen one preview of Monsters vs. Aliens, enough to know that there was going to be one woman and a bunch of guys–and the fact that the woman was fifty feet tall and the guys weren’t human wasn’t really changing the situation. I probably wouldn’t have let this get to me except that I’m reading The Feminine Mystique right now, and I’m sensitized to these things.

But after a while, between the explosions and witty comments and things apparently flying out of the screen onto the audience, it finally sank in that Susan, the fifty-foot-tall woman, was the star of the show. The guys were the sidekicks. It was Susan who saved the day, Susan who figured out her fiancé wasn’t worth the effort, Susan who came to wonderful conclusions about how capable she was. Betty Friedan probably would’ve been ecstatic about this film, even if she wasn’t into sf.

And that’s the problem. The Feminine Mystique was first published in 1963, forty-six years ago. It shouldn’t be this relevant today, damn it. I should be able to take it for granted. I shouldn’t be stunned by seeing its themes in an sf film and marvelling at how rare that is. I’m thrilled that they were there, yes, but Monsters vs. Aliens isn’t likely to be a classic seen through the ages. Will other movies pick up on this? In all genres? When?

Oh, and Susan was the only main female character. Sigh.

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5 thoughts on “Progress, yes, but . . .

  1. Raerei

    I had similar thoughts with UP…wonderful story…really. But the hero was grandpa…there were exactly 2 women in the movie – one was awesome – and the other was in the last scene….I liked it but I'm getting tired of this. I'll have to try out Monsters vs Aliens.

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  2. Raerei

    Very much so. Mom and I were debating that perhaps they fear movies about girls won't be popular with everyone – that only girls will go see them. I beleived it for about 20 minutes after which I remember Studio Ghibli and the movies they've made about girls. Sigh. They've lost the only excuse I was willing to give them.

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  3. Silvernfire

    I only just remembered, Coraline is a movie with a female protagonist and a female villain for that matter, and nary a princess in sight. I wonder if anyone would've optioned the book if it had been written by someone with less market clout than Neil Gaiman. But that could just be me being cynical.I've heard that argument before, that if a story is about a boy, both boys and girls will go to see it, but if it's about a girl, only girls will go. Of course, if the girl movie is cutesy feminine enough, it'd be hard for me to blame the boys for not wanting to go. When I went to Up, one of the previews was for something called The Princess Protection Program, a movie about a teenage princess who has to pretend to be a normal high-school student in a small town. Wholesome as all get-out, I'm sure, but I'm also guessing the only males in the audience will be the fathers of tweeners who are just there to drive their offspring to the movie and back again.If it really is true that girls will go to boy movies, but not vice versa, then I want to know why. All girl movies have an obligatory romance that grosses the boys out? Girls are willing to watch action-adventure as well as romance? That might work a bit: notice that the Luna line seems to be reasonably successful in publishing women-oriented fantasy novels that also have romance in them. That's it: boys are just rigid and inflexible. ^_^ But Hollywood caters to them anyway.

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  4. Raerei

    Probably so – but there's also the fact that little girls have been hearing stories about boys forever – but there are fewer children's books that feature girls that boys will be read – although they did change the Little Engine who could.I forgot about Coraline too…good movie – guys seemed to like it just fine.

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