What is a Feminist Movie?

“When a man gives his opinion, he’s a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she’s a bitch” – Bette Davis.
Here’s my “manly” opinion on feminism. I’ve been asked to come up with my five favorite feminist movies of all time on the upcoming “I Hate Critics” podcast. I didn’t realize how hard this was going to be. Usually whenever I’m asked to come up with a top five list I just google the genre and pick five movies from there. However when you google the best feminist movies you get a list of movies that are only about the struggles of women and how they overcame said struggle.

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To me that’s not what feminism is all about. Feminism is about the ability to be an individual. Currently in the world we live in women as a whole are considered a genre. Don’t believe me? Have you ever heard the label female comedian? You have right? What about male comedian? Don’t lie to yourself. All female comedians get lumped together while all male comedians are allowed to be their own thing. The same thing goes with musicians, actors, directors etc etc.

Tomboy starring Betsy Russell

Tomboy starring Betsy Russell

I wanted my list to represent what feminism really is, but you can’t do that in five movies. There are more than just five types of women. In fact every woman is her own type of woman…just like every man is his own type. This isn’t an attempt to be politically correct, in fact I think being PC can actually be more sexist than not.

Jurassic World

Jurassic World

Let’s look at the film “Jurassic World” as an example. That movie came under scrutiny from the PC Police because of Bryce Dallas Howard’s character. In that movie her character ran the business that is “Jurassic World.” Her nephews came to visit and she was too busy to spend time with them and in the process they are chased by dinosaurs. Immediately the PC Police went after this movie saying this movie discouraged women from taking on roles of power. That however is not the case. If she were a man they wouldn’t care that he neglected his nephews to do his job, because that’s his job, but obviously he’d be bothered and upset he let life get in the way of his family. The PC Police are actually making the problem worse in this case.

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What about the “strong” female character? The strong female character is great but not all people are strong, nor do they have to be. The action film “Mad Max Fury Road” got a lot of love from the PC Police because of Charlize Theron’s character and how badass she was. I love “Mad Max Fury Road” because it’s awesome. It’s a cool action movie. It’s great that Charlize Theron got to play a role that often times goes to a man. That said, why does the main character have to always have strong characteristics to get noticed as feminist?

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What’s on my top five? I don’t know. Part of me wants to just pick one actress and go through her filmography where she played five different types of women and use that as an example. Another part of me wanted to pick five different types of people and grab a handful of movies, so that’s what I’m going to do.

5) The Mom – “Stepmom” and “Erin Brockovich” immediately come to mind. These are two movies driven by a female lead (Julia Roberts in both cases), but in both movies all the female characters are completely their own person. The character of Erin Brockovich has that strength characteristic which makes that movie show up on more “Top Feminist Movie” lists. Another movie that has a great mom character is “Boyhood.” Patricia Arquette even won the Oscar for her performance.

4) The Working Woman – “Working Girl” and “9 to 5” pop right into my head. Although you could throw “Jurassic World” in here too. The issue I have with “Working Girl” is that Harrison Ford received top billing when clearly Melanie Griffith and Sigourney Weaver were the two leads. What makes these movies feminist is again that every character plays their own person.

3) The Strong Woman – “Alien” and “Mad Max Fury Road.” I’m sure there are other great movies, these are two of my personal favorites.

2) Other Women – “Amelie,” “In a World” and “Easy A.” These are three movies that I’m not really sure how to categorize but they’re great characters which makes it feminist even if it’s not trying to be. That’s really what feminism is about. It’s not about having the discussion, it’s about naturally allowing women to be individuals and not a genre or a group.

1) Victim – “Thelma & Louise,” “Hard Candy,” “The Color Purple.” Everybody loves a story about overcoming a struggle. These particular characters aren’t over coming being women, they’re over coming abuse, racism and other struggles.

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I don’t care if you like these movies or not. It’s not about that, it’s about allowing the characters to exist and be individuals. So when you sit down to watch a movie, or listen to a band or catch a comedy show remember that female is not a genre.

Bob Zerull

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