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It’s the same thing year after year in movies – a spectacle of blockbusters told through the male (predominantly white) gaze. Female directors and protagonists are the exception to this unwritten rule. Even then many of the characters have objectives ranging from getting revenge to getting the guy. In 2013, girls were deemed “slutty” and gross in Spring BreakersEmma Watson is considered a total snob as Alexis Neiers in The Bling Ring.

In my opinion, a lot of the mainstream movies released in 2013 had meaningful potential, but they fell just outside the bounds of their beauty. Some movies released this year could have and should have been told from a different perspective—that is, other than the white male lead’s. It’s time for change.

Prisoners

prisoners

Prisoners actually played with perspective, often switching between the accounts of Detective Loki and Keller Dover. Prisoners was one of my favourite movies of the year, but something just wasn’t sitting well with me.

The problem is that Dover wasn’t the only one whose daughter was abducted. Nancy and Franklin Birch are completely secondary in this movie, despite the fact that their daughter is also abducted. We rarely see them, and when we do, it’s because Dover is involving them in some way.

This is problematic because the movie dedicates much of it’s time to switching between the two white male leads. If the movie is able to do that, there should be room to document the suffering of the other parents in the movie.

Prisoners was absolutely amazing, but in the end disappointing for the fact that it conforms to putting the faces of white men at the forefront.

 

Dallas Buyers Club

rayon

Dallas Buyers Club looks at a man who finds out he has HIV. Ron Woodroof is introduced as a homophobic, misogynistic, and racist cowboy who unexpectedly contributes to society in a positive way. He defies the law and what the doctors tell him, and sells unapproved drugs to those with AIDS.

Along the way, Woodroof meets Rayon. Rayon is a soft-spoken, brave and loyal transgendered woman played by Jared Leto. When Leto is on the screen, he literally steals the show with his performance. Not only this but, Rayon is a vastly important character whose story once again falls on the back burner.

There are so many unanswered questions regarding Rayon’s life—what is her relationship with Jennifer Garner’s character? When and why did her addiction start? What about the relationship with her dad? Who is the blonde man we always see by Rayon’s side?

Even more pressing is the fact that Leto was even cast to play Rayon in the first place. Leto is one of my favourite actors, so of course I was excited to see the movie. But really, why couldn’t the role have been played by a transgendered actor? As pointed out in an article by Salon: “This isn’t about Leto’s skill or talent as an actor, but this is about the fact that trans-identified people are missing out on substantial acting work when someone like Leto takes on the role of Rayon…”

Yes, Woodroof is incredibly important to American history. Yes, he changed for the better. But it’s disappointing to see that Rayon’s story wouldn’t have been told without the “help” of the white male lead. Dallas Buyers Club was powerful, but I would have loved to see a full length movie about Rayon instead.

 

Spring Breakers

breakers

I literally want to scream when people write off Spring Breakers as “stupid.” Despite its problems (and there are many which deserve their own article), I strongly feel that its attempt to address serious topics is what makes it so problematic. I once read a comment that Spring Breakers looks and feels like we are literally licking a woman’s body up and down. That is the point.

With that being said, Spring Breakers is ironically told from Harmony Korine’s perspective. He shocked many when Rachel Korine was depicted in a near-rape scene, which is arguably about her agency rather than the males’. Would this entire movie, and scenes like Rachel’s, have been more authentic if told by a woman? Most likely.

Korine is a very distinct and unique director, and he definitely showed that with his perspective of American youth. But I think I would have felt better watching Spring Breakers from a woman’s point of view.

 

Don Jon

brie

Before I begin writing about Don Jon, I would like to say that I fully recognize that this movie is supposed to be about the male’s problematic gaze of women, especially through the discourse of media.

With that being said, there’s one character in Don Jon who says it all without saying anything. Literally. Jon’s little sister quietly sits back the entire movie, rolling her eyes at the men in her family. The audience doesn’t know much about Brie Larson’s character, other than the fact that she loves her cell phone. But when we do finally hear from her, what she says is intelligent and literally the one thing that Jon needed to wake him up.

I think it would have been cool to see things like pornography and the objectification of women through the eyes of the person being objectified. Barbara Sugarman’s character is villainized for being uncomfortable with porn, but she is never truly given the chance to explain why it makes her uncomfortable. We never really know what Jon’s mother and sister feel when they are subjected to seeing that awful hamburger commercial. But what we do know is how turned on the men are in the movie, as the women sit back in silent torture.

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