Joel Shepherd is the author of a series featuring a female action hero named Cassandra Kresnov, and he details a recent attempt to shop the book as a film in Hollywood. A producer is having a difficult time placing the script, and eventually he just gave up. Why?
The problem with Cassandra Kresnov? She’s female, of course. ‘They’re just not interested,’ [the producer] said. ‘I mention she’s female and that’s the end of the conversation.’
Shepherd has written previously on the subject of female action heroes, and has written well on the subject, I think.
If Hollywood make a movie about a ‘male hero’, they will focus upon the word ‘hero’. Hollywood tells hero stories extremely well — the great powers, the great responsibilities, the tortured origin story, the moral and existential conflict. It’s all there, and Hollywood can tell these stories as easily as LeBron James can make a layup, and for similar financial reward.
But if Hollywood makes a movie about a ‘female hero’, they’ll focus upon the word ‘female’. They’ll lose emphasis upon the hero story, and focus on sex and gender instead. Our female hero will be dressed in ridiculous outfits, and will have action scenes dedicated less to showing how kick ass she is, than to how many teenage boys she can give erections while kicking ass.
So, yeah. Props.
This reminded me of the Angelina Jolie movie, SALT. When they decided to make the character female (and make Jolie the lead), one of the first things they wanted to do was sex her up. Jolie put her foot down and insisted the character stay as is. Very few actresses would have had that kind of power. The result is a movie in which she looks very much normal. (Some of the posters have that "come hither" face photo, but others show a fully-dressed woman in a normal pose. It was refreshing). The movie also made $118 million (according to Rotten Tomatoes), so it seems there is a market for that kind of movie.
Unfortunately SALT is a really poorly-written movie :( It was offered to a lot of male actors, who all turned it down because of the mediocre script. I understand even Tom Cruise turned it down. So. There's that.
I'm hoping Haywire doesn't suck.