With the history of cinema over the years, the need for strong female characters has never been more apparent. It is integral for us as a community to have women properly portrayed in the media, not only for the overall wellbeing of women mentally and physically, but for societal homogeneity. As dystopian as it may sound, it is often necessary to overtly express the humanity that a woman possesses in media, with filmmakers often needing to go above and beyond to ensure that a woman is not viewed solely as an object, a love interest or, more often than not, “useless” by a primarily male audience. Characters like Mikaela Bane from Transformers and MJ from the older Spider-Man movies, who themselves were primarily written by men, pioneered these viewpoints in our general societies regardless of what the writer’s intentions may have originally been.
Once Upon A Time
Disney princesses are the most notable examples of this phenomenon, in which while they were created with somewhat pure intentions, and meant to act as role models for young women, they often portrayed a rather old-fashioned view on women and their role in society. While the more recent Disney “Princesses,” such as Moana, have been able to skirt around this, most older Disney princesses continuously fall into this trap. However, Disney has recently begun a new campaign in which they aim to rewrite their older movies, especially their Disney princesses, in a way that makes them more appealing to a modern audience and culture in their recent live action movies. We see changes made to the Princesses’ motivations, coupled with new songs and overall huge character changes. This change occurred most notably in Aladdin where Jasmine was written an entire song that revolved around her refusal to allow her voice to be silenced. While this change was embraced and appreciated by many, there were some who held contention in regards to this new change. However, the slight outrage at the changes made to characters like Jasmine and Belle is nothing in comparison to the most recent changes made to Snow White, who will supposedly be getting her own movie in 2024.
Whistle While You Work
Recent interviews with Snow White actress, Rachel Ziegler, and Gal Gadot, who plays the Evil Queen, has sparked recent controversy. Both actresses detail that this “newly adapted” Snow White will “not be chasing after love or a prince” and that she “will fight to become the leader she knows she can be.” While the older Snow White movie, adapted from a 19th century German folktale in 1937 was certainly no modern feminist literature piece and therefore will require some level of rewriting to resonate with modern audiences, to completely remove the aspect of love in Snow White, as Rachel Ziegler and Gal Gadot are claiming to do, is to ignore an important aspect of the human condition and what it means to be a woman. To state that Snow White’s main purpose in the story was “chasing after a prince,” is to grossly misunderstand the little multidimensionality that very few female characters were granted in that time. Snow White was never actively searching for a prince, rather, she was simply a girl leading with kindness and humility who, because of the actions of a jealous stepmother, was forced into the woods. However, even in this terrible situation, Snow White made the best of her situation and found people who cared for her and who she cared for. Snow White was not only a story of love, but one of kindness and perseverance, in spite of the time in which it was made. However, even if Snow White were a story purely about love, there lies no fault in that.
While we certainly do need more strong female characters depicted in media, it is often a mistake that many modern filmmakers make where they force the woman to choose between love and power. This unfortunately promotes a message that feminism only empowers certain women, those who decide to pursue positions of power. However, feminism is multifaceted and aims to support all Women, whether they decide to pursue power, love or both. Whether a Woman wants to sing in the woods, bake and eventually fall in love, or take over an empire. At the end of the day, it is a Woman’s choice and to let either depiction overshadow the other in media is to fall into the trap of making one-dimensional female characters, the very trap many male filmmakers fall into. It is important for us to be cognizant of the multidimensionality of people, and try our best to ensure proper representation, especially when representing our own demographic.
Hi! I'm a blog writer for WEW at the uofa! I'm in my first year majoring in biology and love consuming any forms of media I can: music, reading and movies, I love them all! I hope you enjoy my blogs and come back to WEW to read more!