Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Film heroines: stop snivelling!

Ladies, I bring you depressing news. 'In her shoes' was on TV again last night. In case you had the good fortune to be doing something more exciting, I shall let you know what you missed. 'In Her Shoes' is a chick flick. You can tell its a chick flick, cos it mentions shoes.

In this film, Toni Collette is single and needy, her sister Cameron Diaz is a wino and thief, and their Gran Shirley Maclaine is lonely and heartless. The ladies' mother is, er, dead from mental illness. Yes, its a film for girls, girls, so it's about shoes, and neediness. With lots of boyfriend stuff thrown in. I wasn't watching this miserable specimen of a movie, but I did a while ago, one hapless evening.

Clara. Worth Saluting. Hell Yeah.
Next day, by coincidence, I'd booked a ticket to see a silent film. 'Wings', was the first film to win Best Picture Oscar, and it stars Clara Bow. To sum up the plot, tomboyish Clara is in love with the boy next door, and tries to get in there by helping him fix his car. Unfortunately he goes off to WW1, leaving Clara the car. She then signs up for ambulance driving in France, survives a bombardment, and catches up with him in a racy Paris nightclub, where she seizes him from the clutches of a baaad woman. She's about to get her wicked way, when he's summoned back to the front. She thinks he's dead, but he comes back to her in the end. And not once, ladies and gents, does Clara's lip wobble. Nor does she think about shoes.

'Wings' was made in 1927. 'In Her Shoes' was made in 2005. This puzzles me. Why, in 1927, did we have film heroines that fixed cars and fought wars and went hell-for-leather after a man, when 80 or so years later, we can't? Quite when did displaying courage, vim, vigour and wit, become hideously unfeminine? I mean, Clara Bow was hot. She was a hell of a lot sexier than some neurotic female weeping and obsessing about shoes.

I was pondering this again, a few weeks ago, while watching 'Aliens' on TV. Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley, otherwise known as Sigourney Weaver, first hit the screen in 1979. Weaver's most recent sci-fi role was mediocre 3D-fest 'Avatar', in which she didn't play the lead, was represented by a computerised animation much of the time, and looked bored when she wasn't. Which only reinforces my suspicion that as the years pass, the likelihood of feisty female characters in films gets worse, not better. 

In real life, women have made a lot of progress since 1927. Even since 1979, when Ripley first appeared on film. (I mean, we now have Hilary Clinton as the foreign secretary of the US. Hilary Clinton is a bit like Ripley, in that she can order a drone strike on your house, which is about the closest you can get to nuking it from orbit. I digress.) So I don't understand why, when it comes to movies, progress seems to be running in the opposite direction. Why are there all these films portraying women as dreadful, drippy twerps?

Ladies, we need to send a message to Hollywood. GIVE US CLARA BACK. OK, I know she's dead, but at least you could get someone to play her. Or at the very least, can somebody give Sigourney Weaver a decent job? Cause if I am subjected to one more film with shoes or dresses in the title, I am, personally, writing to the foreign secretary, and asking for a drone strike on Hollywood.


  1. Drone strike on Hollywood is not a bad idea regardless to a reason. I think world need a new capital of cinematography and i would prefer if that city could be somehow somewhere with a bit less stereotypical aproach to women and shoes! Px

  2. A couple of my heroines are Worrals (even if she wasn't allowed to fly all the coolest aeroplanes like Biggles did) and the piratical Nancy Blackett. Literary rather than filmy, but hey. Just sayin'.