Current female movie rolesWhat do you think of current female movie roles and the way women are portrayed in films today?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A woman's age has an adverse affect on her viability in film. Older women are less likely to get roles unless they are superstars -- Helen Mirren, Maggie Smith, and now Meryl Streep and soon Angelina Jolie. Other women -- Scarlett Johanson, Natalie Portman, Emma Watson -- will have roles into their thirties and then find it harder and harder to find work. While some women who were not considered superstars have had success even while older -- the mentioned examples of Uma Thurman and Hilary Swank -- most have their careers cut short by advancing age.

The double standard, of course, is that men can have action roles well into their fifties, sixties, even seventies. Liam Neeson is the best example of this -- after resurrecting a lapsed career with Taken, he has made action movie after action movie. Angelina Jolie is still making action films -- Salt is her most recent -- but has been focusing on Oscar-bait recently.

The current crop of young actresses is ripe for disappointment as they edge into their thirties. The filmic bias against women is in no danger of being altered, at least at this time.

readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are many ways in which to answer this question. On one level, we see a liberation of women in that they are not pigeonholed to any one type of role in the movies. Women play villains, heroines, and everything in between. For example, in the movie, The Brave One, Jodie Foster plays a vigilante, who seeks revenge, after being left for dead. She steals the show and Terrence Howard is only an ancillary character. In the past, a movie like this would not have been made, since men play the role of the vigilante.

Another non-typical role was played Hillary Swank, when she played a female boxer, in the acclaimed movie, Million Dollar Baby. From these examples we can see that women have broken into the silver screen in many different ways.

With that said, there still seems to be a bias. Most Hollywood women have a certain level of beauty. There seems to be a double standard, because all types of men can get roles. Another point worth considering is that often times there are not too many women directors.

Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is an enormous question that encompasses genres as disparate as Romance and Horror; elements of filmmaking as varied as costume and dialogue and mise en scene; aspects as divergent as script writing, directing, actor/actress persona. In a summary statement, one might say that while women actors have more access to more powerful roles (Angelina Jolie: Salt) and more powerful positions in Hollywood (Drew Barrymore: Whip It) and more professional respect (Mira Nair: Vanity Fair), these gains are contradicted by sexually oriented costuming, character relationships, hair and makeup styling that all work together to literally and metaphorically bind women resulting in continued and oftentimes increased disempowerment (Anne Hathaway: costuming; the conclusion of The Devil Wears Prada), subordination (Cameron Diaz: The Holiday), and victimization (Ulma Thurman: The Accidental Husband).

pirateteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with the above posts that bring up roles women play in movies that show them as more independent, creative, and strong.  Of course they also manage to be these things in great skinny jeans and a pair of Manolo Blahnik heels.  I think of women like Diane Keaton who are showing a shift in the way we view older women.  At 65, an age way beyond what traditional Hollywood considers glamorous, she continues to create movies that show women can be strong and independent even into their thrities.  Her movies show both the struggle of single working mothers (Baby Boom) and that women can have careers and find love in their fifties (Something's Gotta Give). Her movies show a slow but sure paradigm shift in the roles women have in movies today.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a very interesting question. I, as a British citizen, always find it fascinating to consider how female characters are presented in Bond films, as it seems to point towards wider realities of female characters and how they are presented. It seems that there is a general move towards casting female charactes who are more feisty and independent, and able to take care of themselvs, compared to the kind of Bond girls that Roger Moore was cast alongside, who were invariably, blond, beautiful and rather dim and needed to be helped. Perhaps this reflects the greater equality of women in society as a whole and the current penchant we have for "girl power" and strong female characters who can hold their own in a male world.

marbar57 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I see that women are playing more and more diverse roles in movies today. What I find alarming, however, is how accurately are their roles being played (in a historical sense)? Many movies portray women in roles not normally carried out in their day and time. While it's true you can have anybody do anything you want them to do in the movies, it doesn't necessarily hold true when portraying women's true role during the depicted era. Movie producers generally put their own connotation on such things as manners, dress, hairstyle, speech, and career choices that either add to or detract from the story line. There's nothing more disturbing to me than to have a woman dressing or acting inconsistently with the times!


boblawrence eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I feel that in movies, as in literature, female roles are as varied and memorable as those of their male counterparts.  After all, it is only the imagination of the author or screenwriter that determines the role.  The actors merely execute the script and carry out the instructions of the director.  I have never experienced any inequality in the quality or nature of roles acted by women over those performed by men.

As to fame and remuneration of female actors versus male, again I don’t see any difference.  Angelina Jolie is just as rich and famous as Brad Pitt.

In summary, the screenwriter creates the roles.  I have seen no difference in the quality of the characters according to sex of the actor.

kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I feel that we still have the glamour and sex appeal of earlier times, but with a sinister edge to violence as part of the appeal now. Actresses like Angelina Jolie and films such as 'Kill Bill' portray violence as part of the allure of the screen woman. Pretty disturbing role models - and we wonder why incidents of girl/femal violence are increasing...

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that the roles women are taking on today show more independent and motivated women (when depicting modern ideals). One cannot exactly judge the movies, and actresses, who portray women from the past. But, in some roles, the women seem stronger than they should have been. I think that this comes from their own power today.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Women certainly play stronger and more independent roles in today's films, but the beauty factor--most lead actresses must have beauty queen good looks--is still visible in most films. And I wonder if the trend of pairing older male leads with much younger female partners will ever end?