As we head into the New Year, let’s take a break from our screens to talk about…what we’ve been watching on screen. While we Gen X’ers like to think we define the post-feminist movement, 2017 has shown us that we still have a long way to go. 2018 might be the year our daughters finally benefit from all the girl power that’s been marinating in the American pop culture bubble. Here are four ways that Hollywood changed America for women this year:
Ironically, I went to this movie for my son. It’s hard to find films that appeal to both my 10-year-old boy and to me, and this one seemed like a digestible alternative to The Emoji Movie. But five minutes into this summer’s highest grossing film, I literally started to feel empowered in my seat. As I watched director Patty Jenkins’ gloriously formidable Amazons beside Gal Gadot (pictured) as the princess on the verge of discovering her own might, I began to tap into my inner strength. I also started checking my iCal to see when I could fit in some power-lifting classes. I’d never seen so many women portrayed with so much bold strength in a superhero movie! For those of us who grew up watching Lynda Carter while wearing Wonder Woman Underoos, this movie marked a moment of progress. We’ve had plenty of strong women on camera before, from Norma Rae to Erin Brockovich, but this female-directed, powerhouse blockbuster served up the fiercest female role model to hit the screen since my mother kicked the living room TV in 1986. The bar has now been raised for how strong women will be portrayed on film, and I hope this is a sign of how real life will roll out for American women in 2018.
“SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE”
When a show is (almost) as old as you are, it automatically becomes a defining force for your generation. I’ll be honest: I usually only make it through the first hour of Saturday Night Live (pictured) before falling asleep. But I watch it on DVR every Sunday while yelling at my teenage daughter to wake-the-hell-up-because-it’s-passed-10, and we’ve had many a bonding moment eating breakfast and watching women take over the funniest show on late night. (IMO). As we head into 2018 with Aidy Bryant, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong at the helm, the show is sharper and funnier than ever. With all due respect to the very funny and talented men on the show, the spotlight seems to be shining brightest on brilliant, gender-bending casting choices such as comic Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer, Kate McKinnon as Jeff Sessions, and an unforgettable Donald Trump cameo from Leslie Jones. “Saturday Night Live” is skewering the remnants of our nation’s toxic masculinity and paving the way for equality and girl power with a massive sense of humor. Ever since the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke, I’ve been trying to find an empowering yet non-traumatizing way to explain the #MeToo movement to my daughter. SNL did it all for me in early December with a sidesplitting yet spot-on pop parody entitled “Welcome to Hell.” The women of SNL are using humor to inform the world … and the next generation … of some harsh realities that might just become history in 2018.
THE FEMALE NARRATIVE ON TV
Remember when Gloria on “All in the Family” would speak up to her father and it would be this big, strong woman moment? And the live studio audience would break into applause? And then we’d all go back to playing with our Barbies who didn’t have jobs yet? Well, this year we’ve put the strong woman moment into extended hyper-drive on TV. With shows like “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Glow,” “Insecure,” (pictured) and “The Marvelous Ms. Maisel,” women are changing the narrative and changing the channel. And let’s be honest…for those of you who live with that other gender that is not female, how many of you were the ones who decided to subscribe to Netflix, Amazon, HBO or Hulu while your partner just pushed buttons on the remote? TV writers, especially those creating for streaming channels, seem to be talking to us and writing about us more and more. Apparently the revolution really will be televised!
HARVEY WEINSTEIN AND HIS ACCUSERS
One of the biggest moments for women in 2017 came from the man who started the #MeToo movement. After years of ass-patting harassment and heartbreaking assault, America suddenly got woke. And we may have Harvey Weinstein, the one-time powerful producer facing a multitude of sexual misconduct allegations, to thank for showing us the light at the end of this long, traumatizing tunnel. After years of getting Weinsteined, women in Hollywood said “enough,” and the tables didn’t just start to turn, they were flipped upside-down. The threat to Hollywood’s tradition of misogyny has quickly spread to Washington, Television, Sports and beyond, inspiring a national conversation that has not been without it’s share of victim-shaming and bribery, but has definitely sparked a significant change in what women are expected to accept and endure. Thanks to the women who said “Enough!” and the ones who echoed, “Me, too!”, we are hopeful for a future where our daughters may never have to choose between shtupping their boss and keeping their job.
Although many people have only recently heard of the #MeToo movement, it actually began over 10 years ago, thanks to social activist Tarana Burke. After her own experience with sexual violence, she launched the Me Too campaign in 2006. Now she’s calling on a renewed focus in 2018 on the systems in place that allow sexual violence to flourish.
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