Just announced; a new film starring Susan Sarandon(70) and Cynthia Rothrock(60) is in the works. Sarandon plays a popular Democratic presidential nominee who is the target of an assassination attempt. Rothrock plays her security advisor. When Sarandon goes to stays at her country residence, Rothrock races to the residence when she realises there is a mole in the security team she has assigned to her.
Want to see the film I described above? Admittedly it’s a bit….rubbish, but with a little rewriting, some plot changes, it could be gold! What’s that you say? The women are what? Too old? Too old for what? Sarandon is the same age as Stallone. Besides, she’s playing a stateswoman, it’ll be designer suits and cowering mostly. Rothrock? She’ll be fine, she’s done martial arts all of her life. Obviously, there won’t be loads of high kicks like of old, but I’m sure she’s still got a few moves in her! Look at Jackie Chan, he’s the same age and he’s always flying about.
Of course, I am being facetious. Chan does not fly about. Haha. Seriously, though we do not expect Hollywood to reflect real life. It is accepted that they make everyone prettier, slimmer, more athletic and lighter. That is not only in part a reflection of the ruling demographic, it is also what they want to see.
The accommodation of ageing male Hollywood stars is merely a reflection of how those who rule view the world. Most of the money – the power – resides with ageing males. Yes, there are some female movers and shakers in the film industry, but, as with the majority of the western world, most of the money is in the hands of ageing men and the male ego is never ready to be put out to pasture.
This is not a new phenomenon, it is just that media; film and television, are so ever present it makes it easier to notice the disparity. This disparity is evident in the world’s most famous book, the bible. The majority of the leading characters in bible stories are men. This is not me being sensationally blasphemous. It is all there in black and white. The age thing is also prevalent in the good book, with many a male character living into their hundreds.
The hero character is a staple in storytelling. Whether it is written or visual, there is an aesthetic that we have come to expect. Even in the modern day of hashtag equality, not only is a female action hero over the age of forty a rarity, a fat or unattractive male hero is also rare.
The recent superhero films are a perfect example of Hollywood’s reluctance to cast against type, with the ever-popular Wolverine character, in the X-men films, being portrayed by the six foot two and handsome Hugh Jackman. In the comics, the character is a pug ugly short arse, standing at an unimpressive five foot three.
What has happened is, like every ‘new’ inception of the iPhone being an event, we have been led to believe that only certain people can be action heroes, leading characters or leaders.
There are stories that could easily have a lead of either sex, yet the Hollywood machine keeps churning out the same formula, confident – and the general populace has yet to prove them wrong – that the public will keep handing over their hard earned and watch more of the same.
The opening paragraph, using Sarandon and Rothrock for a fictional upcoming film, women in their seventies and sixties respectively, was obviously to make a point. The reason I picked those two, in particular, was because they have both been in action films and the two male stars I compared them to, Sylvester Stallone and Jackie Chan, have recently announced that they are going to be making a film soon. An action film.