AWFJ Women On Film – The Week In Women, June 26, 2009 – MaryAnn Johanson

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No girls need apply, and the “bravery” of the small-boobed woman. No wonder a gal might want to fly away…

PITY THE SMALL-BOOBED GAL. It’s hard to imagine today, but I suppose it really is true that Farrah Fawcett broke feminist ground with the 1970s series Charlie’s Angels. We look back today and all we women who were children then see is fluffy, bikini-clad cheesecake,

but for the time, the Angels broke new ground with their strength and self-determination. It still looks silly to me, but I can convince my brain to accept that.

So it was a bit disconcerting this week, during the retrospectives that followed her death on Thursday morning, to hear Tom O’Neil of the respected Hollywood-watcher blog Gold Derby on CNN (or was it MSNBC?) reduce Fawcett’s contribution to feminism to a certain bravery for having the nerve to appear, on that famous poster that every teenaged boy had on his bedroom wall in the 1970s, in a bathing suit even though her breasts weren’t quite big enough to — in O’Neil’s estimation — truly warrant such near nudity:

O’Neil really said that, and really thought he was paying her tribute.


NO WONDER A WOMAN WANTS TO FLY AWAY. The first trailer for Amelia, one of the most anticipated chick-oriented movies of 2009, has just been released. Directed by Mira Nair, the film focuses on the life and disappearance of pioneering aviator Amelia Earhart:

It long past time for Earhart to be getting the epic Hollywood treatment, and though this trailer isn’t exactly thrilling, Nair’s track record — which includes such wonders as The Namesake

and Monsoon Wedding — continues to inspire me with great hope that this will be one of the better films of this year.

Amelia opens in the U.S. in October.

THE PRICE OF GOSSIP? HIGH! Nikki Finke, an AWFJ member, has sold her insider-y industry blog Deadline Hollywood Daily for a rumored $14 million… an astonishing figure that must be some sort of record for a site that apparently receives relatively low traffic, according to

The individual knowledgeable about the purchase price said it would be paid out over several years. Normally such deals are tied to traffic or to revenue projections. Nonetheless, it is an exceedingly

high price for a relatively small website.

Recently, raised $25 million in new capital against a valuation of $90 million. That site has 8 to 10 million uniques per month, compared to an estimated 200,000 for DHD, according to Quantcast.

Why such a glittery price tag?

Finke, a newsprint journalist-turned-blogger, has been a take-no-prisoners firebrand who has dominated the Hollywood news space online in the past two years. Her frequent scoops are must-reads for industry insiders, but her methods and practices have also raised ill will and charges of favoritism in the profession.

Congrats to Nikki and note to self: Get more scoops, piss off more readers, and score big paycheck…

GIRLS CAN’T BE GEEKS? Johanna Drap Carlson at Comics Worth Reading noticed a most curious qualifier for a contest connected to the upcoming science fiction flick District 9:

This sweepstakes is open only to males who are both legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and Washington D.C. and who are at least between 18-24 years of age as of July 23, 2009

Ironically, District 9 appears to be a parable on discrimination (aliens get the shaft from bigoted humans).

Torie Atkinson at — the blog of a respected sci-fi book publisher — gets at the heart of the problem here:

Now I’m going to be generous here and assume that this is an attempt to make the “face” of the film their target demographic (rather than assume they think women are stupid, incompetent, or otherwise less capable). I’m deeply troubled by the assumptions that this kind of stunt makes about fans of comics, gaming, and science fiction. Even beyond the I-can’t-believe-we-still-have-to-tell-people-women-like-this-stuff-angle, there’s a more insidious implication here: that

women wouldn’t generate buzz for this film. Or more precisely: that they don’t want the kind of buzz women would generate for this kind of film.

The tagline is:

They are not welcome

They are not accepted

They are not human

That sounds painfully familiar. Women in the gaming and comics community have been hearing this for too long.

Apparently in response to the online uproar against these rules, IGN has created a separate, second contest for women. And we all know how well “separate but equal” worked last time around…

JENNIFER LYNCH IS A ‘LUCKY FUCKING BITCH.’ No, really, she says so herself:

Put it this way: A lot of people out there are interested in dark things. I wanted to make a movie that I wasn’t apologetic about. And I did. I’m a lucky fucking bitch.

At least, that’s what she told Marshall Fine at his Hollywood and

Fine about her new movie, Surveillance. And what did her father, filmmaker David Lynch, say when he say the film?

My father said, “You’re the sickest bitch I know.”

Ah, for other female filmmakers who would consider than a high compliment!

But there’s always a catch, isn’t there?

Lynch audibly stiffens when it is suggested that her chillingly tense film bears a resemblance to her father’s cinematic adventures in bad craziness.

“I don’t want to sound defensive,” she says. “I do tend to say, ‘That’s not fair.’ But my father is one of my favorite filmmakers. I try not to take it as a criticism. I don’t want to pretend that I

didn’t have the childhood I had. I don’t apologize for anything.”

That’s what we need: More women filmmakers to do what they want to do and need to do to get their films made, and not apologize for themselves.

OPENING THIS WEEK. The concept of the “chick flick” continues to earn its bad name with the arrival of My Sister’s Keeper, a shamelessly schmaltz weepie about a teenaged girl with cancer, her younger sister who refused to donate the organ that will keep her sibling alive, and the mean old mother who’s the villain for choosing between her children.

The concept of the “guy flick” — or as I like to call them, the “dick flick” — doesn’t do much better in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which also manages to reduced women to something worthy of only humping motorcycles or being humped by horny robots. (How would a robot possibly know whether a chick is “hot” or “a bitch” anyway?)

There are hardly any women to speak of at all in The Hurt Locker, about bomb disposal specialists in Iraq, but it’s brilliantly directed by Kathryn Bigelow, so that’s cool.

For stories of any substance actually about women, check out The Stoning of Soraya M., about the cruelties meted out to women under Islamic law in postrevolutionary Iran. See my interview with star Shohreh Aghdashloo and Jennifer Merin’s review of the film.

Much lighter and creating a flurry of ‘cougar’ discussion, Cheri, from Stephen Frears based on the novels by Colette, stars Michelle Pfeiffer as the turn-of-the-20th-century French courtesan who takes a lover…the much younger Rupert Friend.

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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).