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Are there too few big-screen action heroines?

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Evil_lWhaaaa?!?! Another piece of strangely obtuse pop-cultural analysis, this time from the Hollywood Reporter. Noting the recent announcement that Robert Rodriguez will direct a remake of Barbarella, the article laments the supposed dearth of female-driven action movies. This premise bugs me for a couple reasons. First, what dearth? The article cites several recent action-heroine movies — the Tomb Raider franchise, the Underworld franchise, Catwoman, Aeon Flux, Elektra — but complains that most of them have been flops. (No mention of the successful Resident Evil franchise, starring Milla Jovovich, pictured, or the Kill Bill movies, or Domino, or both halves of Grindhouse.) Yes, there have been flops, but that’s true of male-driven action movies as well. Usually, the culprit is bad writing or poor marketing, just as it is for the guys. Think about it: female action movies are now allowed to be just as mediocre and poorly received as male action movies, without execs pulling the plug on the genre. That’s a perverse measure of progress toward gender parity, but it’s progress just the same.

The other thing that irks me is the assumption that it would be a good thing to have more female shoot-em-ups. Why is that? Is it because the studios can’t figure out how to make romantic comedies or adult dramas anymore, so the only way for an actress to gain box office clout is with a grenade launcher? The real problem isn’t that there aren’t enough female-driven movies with fantasy violence, it’s that there aren’t enough female-driven movies that reflect the reality of women’s day-to-day lives in compellingly told stories.

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