Issue 12  •  Spring 2013

Female Relationships in Film: 90s vs. Today
Posted on  July 10th, 2013
by Alex Schnee

In the 90s, we saw some great films like Clueless and 10 Things I Hate about You that depicted female relationships with friends in a positive way. In a way, these films showed us that we can have great friendships and that they include other things than fighting over boys and which makeup we might choose to use. Filmmakers in the 90s understood that their women needed to be depicted differently than they have been in the movies of the past—with third wave feminism changing again how women should be viewed, we began to see strong her female leads like Drew Barrymore’s character in Never Been Kissed.

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All well and good for those in the 90s, but we might wonder how this might be different or similar to our films today. What about the recent movie The Heat starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy? The movie is about two mismatched female cops who must work together even though at first they do not like each other—following the typical male-dominated cop movie trope. A review from the Dartmouth states: “Hollywood has historically scripted messed-up female characters in the past, but “The Heat” manages to do more justice to the relationship between the two women. Instead of the pissing contest that traditionally starts off the buddy-cop relationship, there is more subtle psychological warfare where the women try to break each other down.” Is it a bad thing that they are trying to place women’s relationships within a male-dominated genre in order to make people laugh? Or is it kick-ass and should we be happy that this genre is going for the gender-bended angle? Are filmmakers realizing that women need to be seen differently than they have in the past?

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