17-Feb-2011

Dumb and dumber

Progessing (albeit rather slowly) through D’s Alfred Hitchcock collection, I began to get perspective on how female characters are treated in Hitchcock’s movies. The last two I saw were ‘Birds’ and ‘The problem with Harry’. In both cases the women are not simpering fools who sit by the sidelines waiting to be rescued. Infact, they act like how normal human beings, who are a bit enterprising and sometimes clever, would act. In one, the heroine chases the male lead to a small town and acts rather brave when things begin to happen. In the other, both the female leads keep their heads in a sticky situation and take an active role in shaping their love lives.

Compare this to the last Tamil movie I saw and I feel like hanging my head in shame. ‘Robot’ was a movie that was wrong at various levels but one of the points that irked me was the absolute stupidity of the heroine. The narrative starts off by establishing that she is a doctor. You delude yourself into believing that atleast this time, unlike in Shankar’s last movie ‘Sivaji the Boss’, the heroine may display more I.Q. than a piece of wood. Alas! That is not to be. Within ten minutes, she goes on to prove that she is a brainless twit and has no spunk whatsoever. The rest of the movie continues along those lines.

I am not sure if it is just our directors who think women are stupid or if it is the audience which expects women to be stupid in the movies and hence directors are forced to write such roles? Why can’t we have a baseline intelligence level for women in our movies?

Or perhaps it is just an extension of the fact that our male characters are not particularly smart themselves. (Look at the scientist character in 'Robot'. He spends a goodish amount trying to teach a robot 'feelings' and then suggests the plan of the heroine seducing (!!) a robot).

Given the average Indian male loves his dream girl to be slightly dumber than him, this really does not leave much room for women to appear intelligent as well, does it?

P.S. This issue has been irking me for a while. I thought of gathering more examples of Hollywood vs Kollywood portrayal of women but figured out it would become an academic exercise meant for well-researched publications. Besides, I would have never gotten around to completing the post ever then.

2 comments:

SK said...

You see the characters in the movie can be only as smart as the director.
And you cannot expect a smart heroine in a Rajni movie, the movie is made exclusively for Rajni, cannot expect anything else.

Recently watched Wake up Sid and Noone Killed Jessica, which seemed to be women centric where atleast they tried to have smart female leads.

With time, things will change, but it will be slow...
And also, India hasnt changed totally, there are huge parts of India, villages where women are subdued.

Anita said...

SK - I can just about understand women being subdued. but women being portrayed as stupid..but yeah. The characters can only be as smart as the director as you say.