Predicting the future is a pretty hard thing to do. We are constantly bombarded with new data that can alter the course of events in an instant. The only way to guarantee that you make the right decision is to keep an open mind and learn from your mistakes. This is what makes life interesting.
This is certainly the case when it comes to movies. While we all love a good flick, movies are a completely different beast to say the least. They can be a platform for some amazing stories, but they can also shed some serious light on certain societal issues. For example, the 2017 film Darkest Hour perfectly highlights the precarious position of women in today’s society. The latest Marvel film, Avengers: Infinity War, also has a fairly heavy theme running through it. Let’s take a look at some of the major issues that this year’s movie slate will highlight.
This year’s cinema has a lot to say on the topic of gender equality and the position of women in today’s world. On the one hand, the all-female-starring Ocean’s 8 and Avengers: Infinity War are both outstandingly strong female-led films that dare to tackle these issues head-on. These are not brooding, angst-ridden films; they are light-hearted and funny.
However, the 2017 horror flick It, which we’ll discuss in more detail a little later on, is a darker offering that forces you to reconsider the representation of women in cinema.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have the latest installment in the Harry Potter franchise, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. This is the first of the Harry Potter series to be adapted for the stage and it features a strong female protagonist in the form of J.K. Rowling herself. The playwright and screenwriter, Dennis Lee, has said that this is Harry Potter‘s most subversive work yet because it challenges our traditional views of gender and magic. This is a film that wants to provoke discussion and even raise some eyebrows!
There are certain clichés that appear over and over again in modern Hollywood cinema. One of the most annoying stereotypes is the ‘bumbling dad’, usually portrayed by Robert Redford. We’ve all seen him, haven’t we? The hapless male, who always ends up stumbling upon the action and getting in the way of everyone else.
This stereotype has been around since the early 20th century and, in the years that followed, countless cinematic characters have been reduced to this archetypal figure. It seems that Hollywood continues to use this tired cliché even today, with many a hapless dad figure appearing in the latest superhero movie, Avengers: Infinity War. We’re sure that somewhere in the world, there’s a kindly old man, wearing a floral shirt and holding a gardening tool, desperately trying to catch the eye of the beautiful female cast member. Sorry, Hollywood. We’re looking at you.
Along similar lines, let’s not forget about the dad from The SpongeBob SquarePants series, which appeared in the 2000s. He was always trying to give advice to SpongeBob and his friends, but usually ended up being clueless and meddling. The 1980s also saw the rise of the ‘grandpa’, a stereotype that persists to this day. We’re talking about the doddering old uncle or the paternal great-uncle who always wanted to adopt your cousin. “Just because I’m old doesn’t mean I have to act old,” Grandpa Steve would often say.
This year, we’re also going to see a wide array of funnymen and women who defy the usual stereotypes. The breakout role of Hannah Horvath in Lady Macbeth, a re-imagining of William Shakespeare’s classic, proves that female comedians can be as funny as their male counterparts. Similarly, Ghostbusters: A Memoir, the upcoming book by the director, Melissa McCarthy, will be an interesting read. The women in this film defy the ‘dumb blonde’ stereotype with their quick wits and biting comedy. Hollywood, you’ve been warned.
Black Is The New White
Speaking of stereotypes, it would be a huge missed opportunity if we didn’t mention the token black characters in modern Hollywood cinema. These are usually relegated to two categories: the sidekick and the comic relief. While these characters have their place in mainstream cinema, it’s fairly obvious that Hollywood studios would rather not deal with dealing with racial issues in today’s world.
This can be somewhat problematic because in today’s world, race relations are arguably the most pressing issues facing our society. Films like Black Panther and BlacKkKlansman tackle these pressing issues head-on and, in so doing, highlight the need for more complex stories in cinema.
To conclude, predicting the future is not an easy task, especially now that so much can change in an instant. While 2017 was undoubtedly a banner year for women in cinema, it was also, arguably, one of the most problematic cinematic years in recent history. Many of the most talked about films of the year were either overtly misogynistic or else contained problematic tropes related to gender and race. While we can’t change the past, we can work to ensure that the future is a more positive and progressive one.