Quick, think of the ten greatest living film actors. It’s not that tough – we have iconic male film stars all the time. Now think of the ten greatest living film actresses. Now take away all women over 50. Still thinking, aren’t you?The simple truth is that actresses were far more iconic fifty years ago than they are now. We may want to shtup most of the actresses we see on screen today, but we don’t show up to see them because of their standout screen personas. That isn’t because today’s actresses are less talented than their predecessors – we have many talented actresses on the scene. It’s because screen executives have decided that truly feminine women, with both brains and looks, are no longer in keeping with the times. Instead, film execs have cut a sharp dichotomy between “sexy” women and “smart” women – it’s either Megan Fox or Kate Winslet. Charlize Theron can’t play a strong, graceful, beautiful woman – she’s got to be either a lesbian serial killer or a piece of eye candy.
That is not to say that haven't been some female roles in recent years that expose us to smart, beautiful and savvy female characters. But the certainly don't seem to be the norm. I find the trend disturbing that the best female role models for my daughters are animated--like Rapunzel in Tangled.
I admit, I am not a big movie fan, but I am a big fan of some TV and there are some smart, beautiful, competent women characters on TV. Take a look at Kate Beckett on Castle (ABC), or Diviya Katdare on Royal Pains (USA Network) or even Kara Thrace on Battlestar Galactica (now cancelled on ScyFy). All three characters are smart, competent at their jobs and also look good. But like real humans they have their problems, emotional needs and emotional baggage. They have goals, wants, desires and needs, but they are good female characters.
Shapiro is right though, in a city and industry where the liberal thought is that females should be empowered, there is a lack of empowered female characters who are women. But then again, this is also a city and industry who thinks that Sarah Palin is the worst feminist in the world because she dares to be attractive, female and conservative.