AUTHOR’S NOTE: Empire Magazine and Total Film are the leading UK film glossies, featuring film reviews and articles on current and (occasionally) classic movies.
I am a subscriber to Empire Magazine along with Total Film. I am also a woman. These two things do not mix.
I got both subscriptions for my Xmas last year, although I have been both a regular buyer and a subscriber in the (distant) past. When it came time to renew, I only renewed Empire. Not because it’s hugely better, or indeed different – both magazines are eerily the same – but because it’s marginally less sexist.
If there was any other magazine that either wasn’t up its own arse with artistic pretension, or even infinitesimally less fanboy, trust me, I’d buy it. But there isn’t and so, in order to stay abreast of the one thing I truly love, I have re-subscribed to Empire. But we’ll see if I can get through a second year…
In my short year (Empire was only a nine month subscription – they think you won’t notice they’ve done you out of three mags with their a ‘cheaper’ price) I learned a lot of things about men – but I learned a whole lot more about women.
Some of my ‘discoveries’ are not original, of course, but still, I think these two fabulous magazines should take some credit. After all, they help to keep the old myths grinding. And lest any of you imagine this is an ‘It’s all men’s fault’ piece, let it be noted that there are female journalists at both mags. And I hear they’re even allowed to write the odd review as well as make the tea. One thing I will bet you, though, none of their mothers worked at Spare Rib.
So here are all the things I learned about women through reading the film mags previously known as The Big Boys’ Comic-Book Movie Digest.
1. Women never turn up with enough clothes. You’d think women, being domestic animals and all, would know the necessity of ‘wrapping up warm’. Think of all those mothers’ adages: “Cover up now, or you’ll catch a chill”, “Don’t forget your hat – that’s where the biggest heat loss is”, “Get off that cold stone, you’ll get pneumonia, piles, a kidney infection.” Why then do these movie mags always show women wearing the minimum amount of clothing? They don’t do it to the men. Actors are generally either in costume, or suits, or T-shirts and jeans, i.e. dressed. The actresses are in slip dresses, a blanket, a strip of fur, a spangly thing that has ridden up their thighs and down their shoulders. Why, Lord, why?
2. Women only have one facial expression – and it means ‘I want to fuck you’. Make no mistake, I have no problem with lesbians. Other than the two who were sat next to me at a Michael Clark ballet in Manchester sometime in the nineties – one of whom had a cold – and insisted on snogging through the entire performance, with lots of heavy breathing and snurffling (the poor girl had blocked both orifices and couldn’t get air). Apart from that one truly annoying encounter, I’m all for ’em. But here’s the rub, I don’t get turned on by pouty ladies. I know it’s remiss of me, and I don’t grudge the boys some cheesecake, but every single actress, even the serious ones? (Who am I kidding? – there are no serious ones.) I think I could forgive this if I had some pouty naked males to compensate but, strangely, they’re absent. I wonder why?
3. Women can never be serious actresses. Oh come on, it’s true. Semi-naked, with copy that reads like something out the Sun? Her credits reduced to the films she’s ‘fittest’ in? Please. The most serious thing about Empire & TF’s women is how stiff they can get you. Sadly, (see 2 above) women don’t make me that hot. Oh, I’ve had the odd quiver – who hasn’t? – but really, no, I’m afraid men are my thing. Although Christ only knows why.
4. Women are only here to play support to men. Again, when their credentials for getting into the mag in the first place are how foxy they are, and how many horror flicks or Bond movies they’ve done, with the smallest amount of clothing and/or most sex scenes, how can we seriously be expected to see them as leading ‘men’? Well, go on then, list me how many hot semi-naked “screamer” roles Hugh Jackman, Robert Downey Jnr and Daniel Craig have done recently. Thought not.
5. Any film with a woman in the lead is a chick-flick. Yes, absolutely any. Even a ‘serious’ movie with a woman in the lead is going to be considered of “interest chiefly to women”. This, of course, is nothing to do with Empire or TF, but a scientific problem. Men are unable to identify with a female lead because if they do they will start to grow a vagina and their voice will un-break and before you cay Roberta’s your uncle they’ll be poofs. True. I read it in Total Film, issue 148.
6. Women don’t like sci-fi, crime, thrillers, Westerns, war pictures, rude humour, Jackass movies…. The list is endless. Women only go to the cinema to see “women’s pictures” (see 5 above) therefore when writing about any film genres that are not vagina-centric it is not necessary to assume your reader may be female. You can phwoar your way through the on-screen totty, identify wholly with any male protagonists getting some pussy, and write-off any misogyny or sexism in the film as irrelevant. Ah, life is simple at Mappin House and Balcombe Street.
7. Women get screamy and obsessive over film stars. Men do not. No, not even over the female ones. Men are dignified fans; women become unhinged and hysterical. Don’t believe me? Compare Empire & TF’s coverage of fanboys drooling over Heath Ledger in the Dark Knight with their descriptions of fangirls swooning over Robert Pattinson in Twilight. Dark Knight is an “Oscar-deserving” masterpiece; Twilight is a “girlie swirl of obsession that will delight fans”. ‘Men’s’ movie = serious, life-changing, deep and meaningful; ‘girls” movie = light, frothy and largely dismissible. The fact that they’re both juvenilia has somehow conveniently slipped off the radar.
8. Women should be grateful to be noticed by film journalists. Whereas all the popular male actors (see list in number 4 and add Simon Pegg to it) get fawning adoration, with every bon mot and blokey camaraderie they’ve shared with the Chief Ed retold in glowing colour, the ladies only ever get the same old coverage: where they were sexy, where they were hot, where they got to be “smart as well as hot.” Our gratitude knows no bounds. Someday they might let one of us put on a pair of trousers. Or at least something that isn’t a half-inch away from revealing our obligatory Brazilian wax.
9. Women can’t lead at the box office. This isn’t just a prejudice in the homes of film journalism, it’s a statistically proven fact. Of course, it’s nothing to do with the fact that a) women don’t get the opportunity to lead at the box office, b) that even on the rare occasions they do they are still screaming and losing their children (c.f. Flightplan, Changeling, Panic Room), c) men can’t identify with female leads because of I’m-growing-a-horrible-vagina disease (see 5 above) – a night-terror that may just be encouraged by film mags that talk endlessly in terms of the gender in genre.
10. Women don’t read film magazines. I speak from experience here. Having been repeatedly told that the reason I want to see a movie is because Angelina Jolie is “still ripe”, or that “none of us can resist smashing up cars” or that getting into bed with the latest starlet is “all of our dreams”, or that being Batman is “every boy’s ambition”, or even just vicariously gazing into Scarlett Johansson’s eyes along with the journalist, I can tell you, I’m pretty much not there. And so we women don’t buy them. Or we let our subscriptions lapse. And then the magazine’s demographic shows that twice as many young males read the magazine than any other sex/age group, and so all the thirty-something fanboys round the editorial table can pat each other on the back at another job well done – while the girls arrange the coffee – and go right on running the old boys’ club, embracing that sense of wonderful self-satisfaction only rivalled by yet another feature on “Why the Dark Knight should have outsold Mamma Mia at the box office”, safe in the knowledge that hard statistical facts back their sexism right up.
After all, it’s only business, right?