Women's Film and Stage Roles! Are Any Good, Dramatic Parts Being Written?
You've most likely heard older female celebrities discuss the issue on The View and Charlie Rose. Meaty and substantial women's parts are lacking on Broadway (drama, not necessarily musicals) and in films, which are dominated by cartoon super-heroes, sci-fi and action thrillers appealing to men aged 18-49.
According to a new report by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, there were more females in the top 100 domestic grossing films of 2011 than there were a decade ago, though the parts were not memorable and women were more likely to be sewing rather than working through conflicts or in leadership positions. Though things appear to be looking up in the summer of 2012 with strong women's roles, from Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) of The Hunger Games to Salina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) in The Dark Knight Rises, such female parts are little more than cartoon action super-heroes, with the women dominant in a reverse gender flip.
Emily Blunt expressed boredom with such roles feeling that they were bad for women actresses. "If you're an intelligent female actress, most superhero movies—and most action movies, for that matter—have nothing to offer you other than a paycheck. And if you can afford to turn down one paycheck in favor of another, why take work that’s thankless, and that you have little to no hope of elevating?"
Of course, they are female roles, albeit thankless ones. For Blunt, when searching for great female roles, it feels like "joining a pack of hyenas feeding on very few carcasses". The difficulty will be no less great if she pursues her desire to return to the stage most probably Broadway, since she is living in the US.
It is because of a dearth of female parts (for the over age 40 roles, it is worse as these parts comprise 25 percent of all female film characters written) that playwright Rosary O'Neill writes plays featuring strong female characters and is currently working on writing a TV script that includes substantive woman's parts. Marilyn/God (yes, Marilyn Monroe - it's the 50th anniversary of her death) The Awakening of Kate Chopin (Kate Chopin, feminist writer of The Awakening) and Buried Alive (Marie Laveau II of New Orleans 1827-1895) are three examples of O'Neill's works whose women characters undergo deep self-reflection and transform themselves with angst and humor toward freedom and redemption.Continued on the next page