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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Frank Bruni, "Waiting for Wonder Woman": What About Meryl Streep?

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Waiting for Wonder Woman" (, Frank Bruni complains about a dearth of "take-charge female characters" in Hollywood movies. Bruni writes:

"With 'The Hunger Games,' has a corner irrevocably been turned? The franchise is a veritable juggernaut whose star, Lawrence, 23, refuses to play to girlie stereotype, cracking jokes during promotional interviews about her uneven breasts, uncontrollable bladder and episodes of gastrointestinal distress. Like Katniss, she could be transformative — both princess and tomboy, glamorous and earthy, gorgeous and wickedly talented. And she leads with her wit, not her body.  
. . . .

But she’s in an industry where the overwhelming majority of decision makers and directors are men; where the reliance on pre-existing source material — comic books, video games — means that a gender disparity simply perpetuates itself; and where the robust ticket sales for 'Aliens,' 'Lara Croft: Tomb Raider' and even 'Zero Dark Thirty' don’t seem to spawn all the take-charge female characters that they should. Studio executives treat such hits as if they’re one-offs."

Quite frankly, I am embarrassed. I never read "The Hunger Games" or saw the movie. Given that I watch movies to escape reality, perhaps I am not particularly interested in future dystopias. As far as I am concerned, an Obama administration, which has brought us skyrocketing national debt, a dysfunctional health care revolution, unrestricted NSA surveillance, and the destruction of American overseas credibility, has already brought us to the edge of dystopia.

"Blockbusters" slated for the summer of 2014? In a Times article entitled "Studios Unfazed by Colossal Wrecks" (, James B. Stewart tells us to expect:

  • "The Amazing Spider-Man 2
  • "Godzilla"
  • "X-Men: Days of Future Past"
  • "Transformers: Age of Extinction"
  • "Guardians of the Galaxy"

Sorry, but you would have to drag me screaming into a movie theater to see any of the above, no matter who will be "starring," female of male.

On the other hand, I rate Meryl Streep's performances in "The Hours" and "The Devil Wears Prada" as timeless national treasures, and I can marvel at them again and again.

Excuse me, Frank, but how do you write about the role of women in Hollywood without mentioning Meryl Streep? And where do the names of Nicole Kidman and Renée Zellweger, who provided us with remarkably believeable "take-charge female characters" in "Cold Mountain," appear in your op-ed?

I also recently had another look at "Leaving Las Vegas" and was overwhelmed by the acting of Elisabeth Shue.

Also no mention by Frank of another of my favorite films featuring "take-charge female characters," "Fried Green Tomatoes."

Market more movies based upon comic book heroes and heroines? The genre has been milked dry.

1 comment:

  1. Could it be that Bruni's first draft did mention the fact that Israeli-born super star Gal Gadot was
    Zack Snyder's #1 pick to play Wonder Woman in the upcoming blockbuster 'Man of Steel 2', but it was edited out at the last minute by the NYT Thought Police?
    My personal choice for the role would have been Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass) but perhaps the fact that she's only 16 years old may have hampered her chances. Meryl Streep? Too WASPy, too classy, too sophisticated for the Millennial Generation. I loved her in 'The Deer Hunter' and 'Sophie's Choice' but nowadays she's a Timex watch in a digital age.
    Kudos to Snyder. It doesn't get any more bad-ass than this: