Economic independence of women to change Hollywood gender stereotypes

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The structure of the family is changing across the US, according to The New York Times. Women’s economic independence is not only changing the shape of the american families across the country, it is also changing Hollywood. How? Female audiences are buying more tickets, and using their freedom of choice they are also deciding which movies are making more cash than others.

Even though women will also decide to watch male-oriented movies, their power to choose and demand is growing as family trends change. The more economic independence women have, the better their status within society. Thus, the potential of women to change Hollywood grows.

Even stars like Downey, Jr. are demanding more female leading roles in superhero movies. He has recently stated that:

“I think that the interesting thing particularly after Guardians with Zoe (Saldana), (or) even from the first Iron Man where Pepper was kind of this really – to me the Iron Man franchise would never have taken off without (Gwyneth) Paltrow. There’s something about her that grounded the story. She’s not your typical lady in a superhero movie, and then by Iron Man 3 she’s swallowing serums and putting on suits and kicking (butt) and all that stuff.”

It has come a time when Marvel President, Kevin Feige, struggles to come up with an answer for the lack of female solo superhero movies. Not only Guardians of the Galaxy is breaking all previsions, but the audiences are showing up, clearly, their preferences. The audience is disappointed because of the lack of Gamora-related merchandising, and getting nervous because they cannot see the day when they’ll finally see a solo Black Widow movie.

As the economic status of women improves so their eagerness to show up their preferences. Female presence in fandoms is increasing. For example, Comic-Con has seen an increase of female attendees this year, forming almost half of the entire audience. This means that changes in the fandom base, connected to more economic power of women, may result in a shift within Hollywood. Women want media narratives that are suitable to their tastes. That is: more equal and with movies with leading female roles.

Some may argue that superhero movies, like those made by Marvel, use the female gaze technique to appeal women, and thus are appealing enough for the female audience. When the camera shows up muscles of superheroes in scenes unrelated to the events of the narrative, some argue that those are scenes made up to appeal female audiences, hence they are scenes made under the “female gaze”. However, we can also argue against and state that those are also scenes to re-affirm the superhero status of the characters, in a similar way that comic books do. The real female-gaze appears when a film is lead by a woman or directed by one, not when some scenes seem to appear as “made” only for women. This means that the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is still lacking of such a real gaze, and thus, cannot really appeal the growing female fanbase which is also growingly becoming disappointed due to the lack of leading female roles in the movies.

Changes in the economic status of women do have an impact in pop culture. While media narrative producers are realizing the power of female audiences, women continue to demand media narratives that suit their independence, status and feelings. One thing is happening for sure: stereotypes are changing from the fanbase to the offices in Hollywood.


Copyright: Images on this post (C) Marvel / Comments on image are dePepi’s.

About pepi

A Geek Girl interested in Geek Anthropology, comic books, books, Superheroes and discovering all about pop culture.

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