While some may look at 2011 as The Year Vaginas Broke or the emergence of The Hot Piece (Of Comedy), the truth is that women continued to be marginalized in film, often reduced to supporting roles as eye candy despite the success of female-driven films such as Bridesmaids, Bridesmaids, and did we mention Bridesmaids? This according to a USC study that surveyed the 100 top-grossing movies of 2011 and found that gender inequality is just as prevalent as it was in the dark ages of 2008 (back when women were primarily kept as pets), with males still accounting for around 70 percent of the speaking characters in 2011’s biggest hits—even including films like the ostensibly lady-friendly The Twilight Saga: New Moon alongside the far less surprising Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen, where Rosie Huntington-Whitely was asked to convey emotion with the nuanced arching of her back.
That disparity is also reflected in the way women are depicted physically, the study says, with female characters being far more likely than males to be shown wearing “sexy clothing… such as swimwear or unbuttoned shirts” (by a ratio of 25.8 percent to 4.7 percent), to “expose skin” (23 percent vs. 7.4 percent), and “to be described by another character as attractive” (10.9 percent vs. 2.5 percent), even if those men put on some swimwear. However, 2011 did show women overtaking men in one area: the box office, where they bought more than 50 percent of the movie tickets this year. So in a way, the study also implicitly blames them for this “perpetuation of the status quo,” suggesting that things won’t improve until more women begin supporting female filmmakers, and those filmmakers in turn begin giving them more stories dominated by female characters. Considering these findings, perhaps USC should just hire a man to explain all of this while unbuttoning his shirt?
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