By Jude Samson
Those over a certain age will appreciate her breaking through gender-based Hollywood by portraying one of the most badass women on screen – Ellen Ripley of the Alien Film Series. She has frequently played a strong, independent woman. Even as the nasty boss in the 1988 Working Girl, she broke ground playing a powerful businesswoman. That may not seem like a big fete today given the standard in movies like The Intern, Devil Wears Prada, The Proposal, The Boss or television shows like Scandal, Star Trek Voyager, Game of Thrones and Suits – just to name a few. We are now so inundated with seeing women in positions of power and authority that the newer generations see it as no big deal, but back in 1988 when Weaver was playing Katharine Parker it was a big deal for women.
“…THEY PAVED THE WAY FOR THE NEXT GENERATION TO CONTINUE THE FIGHT FOR GENDER EQUALITY, AND THEY ARE NOW PASSING THE TORCH.”
Weaver and so many other amazing women before her broke through so many taboos, walls and obstacles that they paved the way for the next generation to continue the fight for gender equality, and they are now passing the torch. Those who have taken up the torch to continue to force Hollywood to respect women easily would include so many amazing women it would be impossible to name them all. But one actress who has enjoyed bucking the old Hollywood system is Michelle Rodriguez.
Rodriguez literally came out swinging in the 2000 film Girlfight and just kept on fighting. Role after role she played badass, kick-ass, take no gruff characters and with that sultry look and husky voice, she brought sex appeal to the characters without actually lessening their strength by making them too sexualized. While her style is different from Weaver’s, it wasn’t really a surprise that Hollywood would eventually want to put these two together in a film.
“UNFORTUNATELY, NEITHER OF THESE WOMEN SEEMED TO FULLY UNDERSTAND WHAT THEY WERE GETTING THEMSELVES INTO..”
These two women – those who fought against their own gender oppression now took a very fragile topic and made a mockery out of it. In the upcoming 2016/2017, action/crime film both women performed in the film that uses gender reassignment (or, as they call it – sex change) as a disgusting plot device to create an action film. These two powerhouse women in an action film would have been the dream that spanned so many generations of audience viewers, it would have been loved by all genders and it likely would have gone on to become not just a blockbuster but a long-time favorite. Unfortunately, neither of these women seemed to fully understand what they were getting themselves into, although the lion-share of the blame should be put upon the actual producers and writers for even conceiving of adapting this rubbish into an on-screen farce.
What makes this even more difficult to swallow is that when wave upon wave of outcry poured out once news of the film was released, both actresses turned deaf ears to their fan bases. While that’s never a good idea, it is understandable to some extent that celebrities cannot let themselves be swayed over every single thing people take issue with. In this case, it almost would have been better if neither of them made any response rather than the flippant and dismissive (and oh-so-ignorant) responses they did make. Rodriguez got the bulk of the lashing as she posted on social media venues pictures of her in the role and is the lead character but Weaver wasn’t exempt from fan outrage. What’s worse is that despite innumerable postings to Rodriguez’s social media accounts from upset fans, many news and online reporting outlets (including our own site – Dear Michelle Rodriguez), she seems to still be grossly unaware that not only her participation in such a film, but her responses hold a lot of clout with many of her fan base so to be so easily shirked off was not just disappointing but hurtful.
Perhaps what neither actress seemed to really understand is that the LGBT community is a vast network and that putting forward a damaging film while maintaining an equally damaging attitude could follow them beyond this one picture. Weaver just joined forces with Marvel’s The Defenders, and I’m not sure if she realizes that Disney owns Marvel now and Disney is an extremely LGBT-friendly company. While Marvel would likely survive well enough due to its long-term fan base, I wouldn’t be surprised if some in the LGBT community take to boycotting the show, Marvel and/or Disney in response to Sigourney Weaver’s blatant disregard for our community. While we’ve, thankfully, been spared Rodriguez appearing in the last edition of the Resident Evil film series, she is a repeat player in The Fast and the Furious film series (that never seems to end) and untold future projects that could easily be boycotted and dismissed as easily as she seems to dismiss us. Despite her proclamation of being bisexual and being “one of us” (which is just a terrible example of her vast misunderstanding) we are still upset and we are visible and vocal.
“ESSENTIALLY, HOW COULD TWO WOMEN WHO ARE SPEARHEADING FILMS THAT PROMOTE GENDER EQUALITY BE SO BLIND TOWARDS THE FACT THAT GENDER IS NO LONGER MALE/FEMALE?”
What both actresses need to realize is that we are their income. We are the basis for their fortune and fame. We are what keeps them in the spotlight, because we’re the suckers doling out astronomical fees for a single theater ticket to see their movie because we want to be entertained. We want to suspend belief and enter a new world, a new story, if only for a short while so we can decompress from our own lives. What we don’t want is to see our hard-earned dollars being used to shame, demean, and dismiss us. Essentially, how could two women who are spearheading films that promote gender equality be so blind towards the fact that gender is no longer male/female? How could these women, most especially Weaver, who is a bona fide icon for women in the industry, be so reckless and then, in turn, so uncaring in response to the outcry. Hypocrisy at its finest it seems.
Rodriguez and Weaver should both make a unified statement against the film as several actors, producers, and directors have done over time regarding specific films that were, perhaps, not exactly what they meant them to be. They should also spend some time among the transgender community to learn more. As much as Caitlyn Jenner (and yes, it’s Caitlyn, not Kris) is the bane of many transgender people, at least she made an effort to learn and visit trans-related organizations and events. It certainly wouldn’t hurt either of these actresses to try such a thing, especially Rodriguez, before she makes another statement about being “one of us.