AWFJ Women On Film – The Week In Women – April 25, 2009 – MaryAnn Johanson

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Majel Barrett Roddenberry becomes an unperson, women are sexy like sportcars (unless they’re fat), and more.

WAY TO ERASE A WOMAN FROM MOVIE HISTORY. Nice going, IMDB’s News from WENN. In a story about how Majel Barrett, who died in December, left a fortune to her dogs, Barrett is rendered all but invisible, and her accomplishments as an actress and producer are completely ignored. Not only is she referred to merely as “the widow of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry” and later simply “Majel”… not only is there no link to her IMDB page (it’s here)…but she doesn’t even warrant a photo:

A DVD box set? This is the best way to represent Barrett? Unbelievable.

BEAUTIFUL WOMEN ARE LIKE SPORTSCARS. So says Idris Elba, who stars with Ali Larter and Beyoncé Knowles in Obsessed, opening today:

It was like being given the keys to a Ferrari and a Lamborghini and saying, “You can have these for all of 24 hours. All yours. But you have to give them back.”


CANNES DON’T. The lineup for this year’s Cannes Film Festival has been announced, and it’s not looking good for women: of the 20 films in competition, only three are directed by women: Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank, Jane Campion’s Bright Star, and Isabel

Coixet’s Map of the Sounds of Tokyo. That’s 15 percent of the lineup. In one of the premiere exhibitions of film, half the world’s population has only 15 percent representation. That’s a kind of invisibility, too.

MEN ARE FROM FAT, WOMEN ARE FROM SKINNY. Wow, if The New York Times has finally noticed that men in Hollywood are allowed to be less than physically perfect while the same realistic courtesy is not extended to women, well… that must

be that it’s been true for years now:

A scene from the new journalistic thriller “State of Play” says it all.

Jeff Daniels, as the politician George Fergus, squares off with Russell Crowe, as the pen-wielding journalist Cal McAffrey.

Two men. One notebook. Four chins.

Hollywood’s pool of leading men is getting larger — and not necessarily in a good way.

By that journo Michael Cieply — whom I’m guessing is a man himself — means that overweight men are appearing on our screens, in leading roles, in roles considered sexy and appealing and masculine and charming and wonderful. Not that there’s more of these men by number,

just poundage. Cieply’s fumbling attempts to explain this conundrum are hilarious in their cluelessness:

Hollywood’s women may have weight issues of their own. But it is somehow less noticeable, possibly because actresses who expand do not often get roles to showcase that growth. Kathleen Turner, 54 and the onetime seductress of “Body Heat,” last December put in a rare film performance as Ms. Kornblut, the plus-size dog trainer in “Marley & Me.”

“Possibly” because overweight — hell, normal weight — actresses don’t get these parts? Cieply says it all, though he doesn’t realize it, when he describes Turner’s character as a “plus-size dog trainer.” She wasn’t a “plus-size dog trainer” — she was just a dog trainer, in the same way that Russell Crowe’s character in State of Play is not a “plus-size journalist,” nor is Jeff Daniels’ character a “plus-size politician.” But there appears to be

no way to talk about women onscreen who aren’t anorexically skinny without mentioning their weight as some sort of qualifer.

The change in smoking habits may have something to do with it. Possibly, too, the audience has grown more tolerant of weightier men on screen as the society at large has become heavier.

Oh, Cieply, you are too adorable! If this were the case, then we’d be seeing larger women in roles that aren’t “plus-size.” But we aren’t.

But a new willingness to cast heavier men “may have happened organically,” Ms. Fasano said, as Hollywood over the last few years has been plagued by what has widely been seen as a shortage of reliably appealing stars.

Too precious! There’s a man shortage! We must turn to fat guys!

But no fat chicks, please! We still have our standards.

OPENING THIS WEEK. Women are all but invisible at the mulitplex once again this weekend. The Soloist is lovely, but it’s all about two men, whose travails and angsts are held up as universal. Fighting is about brutal men doing brutal things (with just

one female helpmeet for them to share!). The documentary Tyson gives a real-life brute and convicted rapist an hour and half to defend himself, and while he may do himself no favors, the same opportunity to speak is not given to the women in his life. The aforementioned Obsessed at least does feature two women in starring roles… but seeing as how one is a psychotic bitch and the other is a traditional wifey, that’s nothing to get excited about. The documentary Earth does feature an abundance of females, but they’re polar bears,

elephants, and other nonhumans, so I’m reluctant to count them.

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MaryAnn Johanson

MaryAnn Johanson is a freelance writer on film, TV, DVD, and pop culture from New York City and now based in London. She is the webmaster and sole critic at, which debuted in 1997 and is now one of the most popular, most respected, and longest-running movie-related sites on the Internet. Her film reviews also appear in a variety of alternative-weekly newspapers across the U.S. Johanson is one of only a few film critics who is a member of The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (the Webby organization), an invitation-only, 500-member body of leading Web experts, business figures, luminaries, visionaries and creative celebrities. She is also a member of the Online Film Critics Society. She has appeared as a cultural commentator on BBC Radio, LBC-London, and on local radio programs across North America, and she served as a judge at the first Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Film Festival at the 2003 I-Con, the largest SF convention on the East Coast. She is the author of The Totally Geeky Guide to The Princess Bride, and is an award-winning screenwriter. Read Johanson's recent articles below. For her archive, type "MaryAnn Johanson" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).