True Detectives, the new crime drama starring Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey has caused quite a stir in its short run on HBO. While many critics have positive comments on the calibre of the acting, plot and general writing there have been many negative opinions on the absence of strong female role models.
Feminism or at least the promotion of strong women in every day life seems to have taken a particularly strange turn recently, with the argument seemingly being that it is compulsory to have these role models in programmes and films whether they fit the narrative or not. Equality of the sexes should not be based upon making sure both men and women are always represented in every aspect of life, surely it is about not discriminating, not trying to glorify one sex over another.
For those of you who have not seen True Detectives, the series starts in 1995 in Louisiana at a time when only 2% of police officers in the whole of the US were women. Indeed as befits the time much of the writing focuses on life through the eyes of the two lead male detectives so in fact I don’t think it is surprising there is not a lot of focus on strong female role models.
A similar issue was bought up with the release of the film Wolf of Wall Street, as the only women throughout were usually topless, fully starkers or being in someway exploited by a male character. The protagonist of the film is Jordan Belfort, with the story played out entirely through his eyes. He lived a life of debauchery viewing women as objects to have lots of sex with and while loving them, definitely not treating them as equals. From an audience point of view, I in fact would have found it a lot stranger when watching this film if all of a sudden we were presented with a strong female character that all the men respected, rather than ones who effectively prostituted either her body or skills to get ahead in life. This just wasn’t the lifestyle that Belfort led, even if these sorts women were around him, his view of the world did not let him see them as such.
The Wolf of Wall Street and True Detectives can be used as examples to show how far gender equality has come in a short space of time. If films always showed an unbiased opinion this would involve living in a world where there was no discrimination to build stories around and unfortunately while idealistic is not realistic.
If all TV programmes and films were put together using the same set of criteria and ingredients, it would make for extremely boring viewing. The idea of gender equality is not supposed to be used as a threat to anyone who strays from the constant promotion of intelligent women, especially when it comes to showing audiences or viewers life from a different era. It is ridiculous to expect every reimagining to glaze over what was actually going on at the time. Fiction often helps us to make sense of a completely different world, one that we can potentially be instrumental in changing. While women are constantly and rightly fighting their way to greater equality in many aspects of life, TV and film should be left to show the viewer a snapshot into a world seen by someone else. Screen writers should be left to decide what the protagonist sees around them. If this does not fit with today’s ideology more the better, that is why we are fighting to change it in the first place.
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