Editorial Expressions: Hollywood still has a problem with women talking to women

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Starring in seven major films this year including Guy Ritchie’s stylish The Man From U.N.C.L.E and The Danish Girl, Alicia Vikander is one of Hollywood’s favourite new stars. Her recent films have led to the big boys taking notice, as she had been nominated in two Golden Globe categories for her performances in the aforementioned transgender biopic and her futuristic escapade in Ex-Machina.

Vikander has had an extremely quick and successful year, filming over different periods, and it seems the culmination of all these films screening within the same year has firmly launched the actress within the public’s eye. Vikander is everything that is desired of an actress: beautiful, talented and humble. Something that perhaps some Hollywood executives may not like however is honesty. Despite filming hard-hitting movies and portraying feminist protagonists, Vikander comes across as somewhat demure due to her perfect cheekbones and doe-like eyes – but it seems the actress observes keenly.

Recently talking to The Guardian about her charmed career, she pointed out the one downfall that was realised on the set of another of her scheduled 2016 releases, the Tom Stoppard-scripted historical romance Tulip Fever. “Of course I’ve had a run of great opportunities and characters to play, but I was shooting this scene with Holliday Grainger that just felt like something new,” she said. “It just came so easily, and we were having so much fun. And only when we were chatting afterwards did I suddenly realise why: I’d just made five films in a row, and this was the first one where I had a scene with another woman.”

Vikander’s comments seem to point towards the persistant need for more passes of the Bechdel test, and highlight that Hollywood still seems to relegate women to romantic love interests or tools of education about the men starring in the movie. The test finds out whether within a movie women talk to other women about something other than men. According to a lot of media-industry press, still over half of filmic output fails this test. Looking at the Golden Globe nominations for Best Motion Picture – Drama a staggering four out of five within the category pass the test with The Revenant being the only one to fail.

However, when you look at some of the films that did the best at the box office and have drawn big focus, it seems a lot of them fail. Some of their films for 2015 include Ant-Man, Black Mass, Bridge of Spies, Ex-Machina, Focus, In The Heart of The Sea, Minions, Paper Towns, Sicario, Southpaw, Spectre and even Terminator Genisys. A lot of these films are big blockbusters and it makes audiences wonder whether for a film to sell it has to be somewhat inherently sexist?

Of course the answer is no, feminist movies this year like Sisters, Trainwreck, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Hunger Games Mockingly Part 2, Carol, Room and Pitch Perfect 2 have sold well at the box office. The problem though? The majority are comedies and the list of movies where we see strong female characters is considerably smaller still then the list of its male driven counterpart. Despite hoards of female celebrities, actresses, producers and directors coming forward to present strong women in cinema it seems Hollywood just doesn’t seem to want fund them all that much.

While the tide is turning and we seem to be getting closer to equality everyday our entertainment industry still holds one of the biggest problems. It doesn’t appreciate women talking to women and when it does it’s mostly done through comedy. Apparently the idea of women talking about something other than men is still largely, in Hollywood, considered to be a joke. However, with stars like Hollywood’s sweetheart Jennifer Lawrence discussing the pay-gap and it’s new star Alicia Vikander pointing out it’s flaws we hope it’s only a matter of time before this improves.

Because guess what? Women can be interesting too and fingers crossed with these movies becoming more recognised at the awards we’ll hopefully see more of them.

See below the trailer for Golden Globe nominated Carol where women can not only talk to each other, but love each other too.

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BA English student at University of Southampton and Editor for The Edge (2015-16). A deep love of reading, theatre and all things entertainment.

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