When it comes to downtime and entertainment during the winter months, our choices usually whittle down to a few prominent options – one of which being movies and TV. But without keen discernment or trustworthy recommendation, the overwhelming list of titles and plot lines out there can quickly snap us up and take us down the very long road to what Barry Schwartz coins the paradox of choice.
With all that’s going on in the world politically and socially right now, choosing to engage with media that is uplifting, positive, fair and factually accurate is so important. As we have already learnt this year as a Nation, our standards for what is deemed appropriate or inappropriate viewing isn’t just played out through fictional movie scripts. That is to say, our willingness to give voice to equality by reconsidering what we watch both onscreen and off is a really good place to start.
Gender portrayal in fiction has been a point of discussion for many years. Back in 1985, American cartoonist Alison Bechdel established what is now called The Bechdel test. The test is used as a measure of whether popular movies are representing females fairly – in an industry widely known for manipulating the male gaze to raise box office sales. The test is said to check whether a film features at least two scenes in which two named female characters engage in conversation with one another about something other than a man. Simple enough right? Yet it’s been observed that more than 40% of all American films failed when a database of 7,000 movies was scanned.
This week we want to pay homage to smart women who each in their own way challenge societal norms, stick to their guns, and consequently change the course of history. Not because of their looks, sex appeal, or love lives, but because they had the smarts to rise above the stereotypes and bring big ideas to the world.
In need of a little girl power?
Here is our list of top 5 biopics telling the stories of phenomenal real life women:
1.Hidden figures (2016)
The previously untold story of 3 African-American women working at NASA in the early 60’s who served as the mathematical brains, or “computers”, calculating the coordinates and complex equations behind one of the greatest space launch operations in history.
2. Colette (2018)
Starring the Queen of period dramas Keira Knightley, this film follows the unfolding life story of French novelist Colette who was forced to serve as a ghostwriter for her husband, penning stories that would go on to become bestsellers, all the while published under her husbands name.
3. Erin Brockovich (2000)
‘An unemployed single mother becomes a legal assistant and almost single-handedly brings down a California power company accused of polluting a city’s water supply’ – a case today known as the Hinkley Lawsuit.
4. Tracks (2013)
The movie adaptation of Robin Davidson’s memoir explaining the journey she took on foot 2,700 kilometres across Australia with her dog and four camels in 1977.
5. Suffragette (2015)
Women’s suffrage is a topic close to the heart of New Zealanders, with last year being the 125th anniversary of the right to vote. This historical drama follows the events that led key female players who used their voices to evoke political change and together began the women’s suffrage movement in England.