The purpose of our blog is to discuss topical issues, stories, and situations, as well as to share what we are up to and new ways for you to get involved. We are always searching for possible answers to the question: Why is a girl's worth culturally and historically relative?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

More Than A Body

Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson

Summer is synonymous with blockbuster movies and over the last ten years or so, these blockbusters very often have their source in comic books. Two of this year’s biggest blockbusters are no exception to this as both The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises have their roots in hugely successful film and comic franchises.

Although it can't be said that the films have perfect gender parity, there are at least some strong female characters who are able to hold their own amongst the men. Both Natasha Romanov/Black Widow (The Avengers) and Selina Kyle/Catwoman (from the Batman franchise) are physically and mentally strong, often besting the boys at their own game. They are interesting characters, to me at least as complex as the male characters–and yet both Scarlett Johansson and Anne Hathaway were asked by the same interviewer questions about their character's that focused on their bodies: specifically, if Scarlett was able to wear underwear with her costume and what special diets and exercise regimes Anne went on to fulfil the role.

I’m pleased to say that both Scarlett and Anne responded brilliantly, calling out the interviewer on his question in a way that left him in no doubt that they were unhappy. I hope that more female actors speak out in this way, letting interviewers know that it is not okay to ask male actors one set of questions and female actors another. This disparity can be even more clearly seen in this clip from The Avengers official UK press conference, where Scarlett was asked the question at ComicCon whilst her co-star, Robert Downey Jr., was asked a much more meaty question about his characters motivations (you can see their brilliant reactions to this question from the 3.05 minute mark).

I have no doubt that both Scarlett and Robert (and for that manner Anne and Christian Bale) both worked hard to realise their characters mentally and physically. I want to know how they both did, so let's end this ridiculous partition of questions.

-Sarah Jackson
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not trying to justify the disparity between the questions the men and women get asked, but my husband made an interesting point. These movies are, whether accurately or not, targeting a specific demographic: males under 30 or so. So interviewers are asking questions for that same audience, who probably does want to know if Scarlett Johansson is wearing underwear.

    I'm not saying that makes them fair or valid questions, and I think it's nonsense that men are only asked those questions when there is a huge weight gain or loss, but I understand the want and need to sell copy. But what really bothers me is *how* the questions are asked; I can see a lot of ways in which asking about diet and exercise regime are valid--and not insulting--questions, but the one guy (who interviewed both Scarlett and Anne) is a creep.