Making Me Angry

by Melissa Silverstein on August 20, 2010

in Sexism

Here’s something that is making me angry this morning- sites are picking up on a story about how young women across Hollywood are auditioning to be Andrew Garfield’s love interest in the new Spiderman reboot.

Here’s the title from the Hollywood Reporter piece:

Will one of these women be Spiderman’s love interest?

There is just something inherently wrong with a process that talks about a female character in this way.  It’s setting her up to be nothing more than a piece of meat.  I just wish that people would understand the implications of creating this dynamic.

The guy is the superhero star, and the young woman is just the love interest with no name according to the story.  Yet every up and comer wants to play this part.

So glad we also have Lisbeth Salander to look forward to cause Spiderman and the girl who will have two lines and have to look like she is in peril just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Will one of these women be Spider-Man’s love interest? (exclusive) (Hollywood Reporter)


{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Jihad Punk 77 August 20, 2010 at 12:27 PM

Thank you. I’m F–KING SICK of women playing 2nd fiddle to all these dumb, overrated big budget superhero/comic book/action films. Transformers, Iron Man, and all the Spiderman movies are total shite and I can’t stand how women are treated in these crap.

Ladies, please stop demeaning yourself to compete for the second fiddle role. Yeah, it’d make you famous, but no one would take you seriously after that. Someone like Ellen Page or Scarlett Johansson (who played a SUPERHERO nonetheless in Iron Man 2) would never take a dumb role such as this.


Scott Mendelson August 20, 2010 at 1:43 PM

I wrote about this back in March, when we all wondered who would be playing Captain America’s ‘female love interest’, ironically the relatively bad-ass Sharon Carter. It’s the dilemma of most working actresses, forced to choose either no mainstream work or be stuck playing the ‘token female character/love interest’. I’m less offended in this case because we’re talking about Spider-Man here. If we knew which one of Parker’s comic book girlfriends was in the reboot, the article simply would have read ‘who’s playing Mary Jane/Gwen Stacey/Betty Brock/etc”, and the articles would likely contain a token amount of comic book backstory.

For for it being a dumb role, it’s all a matter of how the movie is. Compare the two Hulk movies. Liv Tyler’s Betty Ross was regulated to being ‘the girl’, but Jennifer Connely’s Betty Ross was a fully-fleshed out lead character with a life and issues all her own (the Ang Lee drama spends a shocking amount of time with Betty Ross in moments where Banner isn’t around, which is the test of a full-blown female character). Heck, compare the two Rachel Dawes characters in Nolan’s Batman pictures. In Batman Begins, she’s not the love interest so much as Bruce’s conscious and moral compass, a character with a strong point of view who moves the story along as a result. Alas, in The Dark Knight, she’s basically the prize to be won between Wayne and Dent, and then regulated to a woman in refrigerator.

As for the other Marvel counterparts, let’s be honest. Pepper Potts’s generally platonic relationship with Stark in Iron Man 2 was the best thing about that misfire, as she was an equal and confident, someone who Stark trusted to call him out on his bullshit and keep him honest. She wasn’t ‘the girl’, but a fully-fleshed out supporting character. As for the Raimi Spider-Man films, they are at heart romantic dramas. The primary story IS the love story between Parker and Mary Jane, and her issues and problems and character arc is about as important as Peter’s (less so in the overrated second film, where she’s just the prize). If this new Spider-Man reboot really does end up as an adaptation of Ultimate Spider-Man, then Mary Jane/Gwen Stacy will be every bit the ‘lead character in her own life’ that Peter Parker is. We’ll see…

Lisa August 20, 2010 at 1:59 PM

I have another question. Where are all of the young American actresses? Every time they publicize the casting of one of these big Hollywood roles, it’s always mostly Brits and Australians. I find it hard to believe our young women can’t act. Are they not being given a chance?

Chris August 20, 2010 at 2:27 PM

Lisa I work in talent representation and we’re all wondering the exact same thing. So many of the big roles, not even just in film but television as well–are going to Brits and Aussies. We don’t get it, but it’s killing our clients.

Lisa August 20, 2010 at 3:16 PM

Chris so you’re saying the American talent is out there, they’re just not getting the jobs? I’ve been watching all of these teen movies, looking for the young actresses and I can’t find anyone. When I put together my casting list, I can put down “unknown”, but it causes a problem when I’m trying to raise financing. They want a name. How can these women have star power if they can’t get their first job?

Nell Gwynne August 22, 2010 at 9:55 AM


And the problem is that there are many more actresses than parts available. So I’m sure some of these women auditioning for the part aren’t enthusiastic about the project, but want the work. Beign an acress nowasays is like being trapped in thw world’s most depressing hamster wheel.

bobbyfischerslovechild August 22, 2010 at 10:04 AM

The love interest isn’t nameless, they’re just keeping the name a secret. And it could turn out to be Felecia Hardy, who’s very much a character in her own right (sp?) though that may be overly optimistic.

If you want more female-led films, see stuff like Sucker Punch and the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo remake when they come out. Money is the only thing Hollywood understands.

T August 22, 2010 at 4:43 PM

I didn’t like Iron Man I because the only female character was a coffee fetching side kick at best. Didn’t bother to see Iron Man II because I do not enjoy pissing contests. Iron Man II previews displayed it as one big pissing contest between the characters played by Rourke and Downey Jr.

I feel for actresses who aren’t being offered great roles, but, I also wonder why more of the successful ones aren’t following in the footsteps of Robin Wright, who was EP on Hounddog and Virgin or Sandra Bullock who was EP or producer on films like Hope Floats, Miss Congeniality ?
In Hollywood, actresses have more clout than most other women in the biz.

Then there are the producers and studio’s odd choices-
Why choose Roberts for EPL? It was a book with a following, a built in audience. I don’t think Roberts name being attached has done it due service in numbers. They could have made someone’s career with that one.

Progress is so slow.

Scott Mendelson August 22, 2010 at 11:27 PM

T – ironically, Mickey Rourke is barely in the film. Most of his screen-time and pretty much all of his dialogue is in the trailers. Funny you mention Hope Floats. Sandra Bullock got Fox to finance Hope Floats by agreeing to do Speed 2. So, Speed 2 comes out and nearly kills her career, opening well ($16 million), but then collapsing due to the fact that it’s terrible. Then a year later. Hope Floats opens almost as well ($14 million) purely on her name and revives her career.

Emily September 5, 2010 at 5:04 PM

Thank-you! I writing a Master’s Degree in Cinema and Media Studies on this very phenomenon and it is VERY DIFFICULT to get people to understand the implications of representations like this! When I was younger I used to read comic books and I loved super hero movies. But then I began to get irritated. It was bad enough that the comics were so sexist in their representations of gender roles, but at least they had the excuse of the time periods in which they were written. The movies, however, were of the twentieth and twenty-first century! We are able to create any stories we want and still we continue to play the same hand of cards over and over and over simply because it allows us to win a lot of money and recognition. When I went to see Iron Man 2 this year, I wanted to scream at the dynamic that was played out between the two “jealous women”: two hot girls, one more sultry in appearance than the other, fighting for the attention of a rich man. Neither of the women had any lines on their faces while he was full of them. Scarlett Johansson and Gwyneth Paltrow could barely move in the skin tight leather pants, skirt suits, and high heels. Even Robert Downey Jr. had a greater degree of freedom in his monster mechanical suit than these ladies had in their “everyday” clothing. By the time Scarlett shook her hair out of her ponytail in order to fight the bad guys, I had had enough and walked out. What woman in her right mind takes her hair OUT in order to fight a battle? Wouldn’t the hair get into her eyes and reduce visibility? And how is she doing all those back flips in high heels? And this is not just the stuff of comic book movies – these gender representations are literally everywhere and are becoming more and more acceptable to a supposedly media literate audience. Sometimes I feel like an alien on this planet…

Lilliane September 20, 2010 at 12:06 PM

All I have to say is , people have to WORK. Sad state of affairs, yes, but that’s how it is. God knows if I wasn’t too old, I’d be right there in the cattle call with the rest of them.

Don’t you love the term ‘cattle call’???

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