So there's this this new trailer out for a scifi movie by one of my favorite directors. It looks fantastic and I love the concept and I'll absolutely go see it.

But I'm worried now it'll be a classic example of one of the things that just bugs me about thrillers or disaster movies or any type of movie where characters are under stress. In these situations, female characters tend to just crumble apart into emotional balls of panic. Things they scream at the calm, collected male hero include "What do we do!?" or "Help me!" or the ever useful "Do something!".

It's typical of our gender roles that while female characters fall apart like this, any hint of fear in a male character is heavily derided. Women are allowed (expected) to be weak; men are required to be strong. Any time there is a strong man helping a near-hysterical woman in a disaster movie, reverse the genders in your head. You know that people would be mocking the shit out of the guy that screams "Do something!" and needs to have the female lead grab his hand and lead him to safety.

When I was younger and wasn't quite so media-savvy (digression: this is something that should totally be taught in high school), I used to blame the women in movies for being shrill and helpless. I'd identify with the male protagonists who stayed calm and got shit done. I used to think that the portrayal of women in movies was an accurate portrayal because women really did suck that much.

Then I realized that these movies are almost exclusively written by men, who purposefully create shitty female characters who go to pieces so that the male hero can swoop in and save her and feel all manly. You're not supposed to identify with these ego-masturbatory-aids, you're supposed to identify with the male protagonist.


I'm still going to go see this movie, but I really, really hope it's not another instance of this type of characterization. Alfonso Cuaron, please don't let me down!