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The New York Times Celebrates Hollywood's Year of the Heroine Worship

By Dustin Rowles | Trade News | December 10, 2012 | Comments ()


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Over on the NYTimes, the Hollywood issue of the Times magazine is celebrating 2012 as the year of cinematic heroine worship, lining up an array of stunning women for a series of stunning photos to complement A.O. Scott's piece on the rise of female heroes. Scott obviously stops well short of proclaiming that there's been a role reversal between the genders, and in rounding up the Year of Heroine Worship, he revisits the preposterous debate about women not being as funny as men (spearheaded this year, I believe, by that doofus Adam Corolla), the expansion of meaty roles available to women, and -- of course -- Lena Dunham's voice in all of this in 2012.

It's a great piece, and a visually splendid slideshow. Here's a sampling of the images.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • No worries, next year we'll be right back to such stunning displays of 'girl power' like Megan Fox in anything and Allison Brie and the other chick from Community rolling around in their underwear for GQ.

    I'm cynical as shit, and I blame Hollywood for it.

  • Good. But let's not limit it to starring roles. I'll be celebrating even more when a larger proportion of the higher-ups in the industry are women. That will make the real difference.

  • BierceAmbrose

    Bleh.

    It's all so self-conscious. Here we are, being the fishwrap of record defining, or is that proclaiming the trendiferous thing that is also so right and long in coming? Defining because we proclaim it, I think. Because it's the Times, and we're all about the Zeitgeist of people who read "the Time." You're too often left with nothing but something being important because they say it while looking over their shoulder to make sure you noticed. They're Heathers.

    Which brings me to the topic at hand, (or not because the slide show is all classy and stuff.)

    There's a complement to William Gibson's observation: "The future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed." Or to Drucker's, which I'll paraphrase: "I don't make predictions. I simply describe things that have already happened, that people haven't noticed yet." How about "The present is here, but there are pockets where it hasn't reached yet." We used to think that way - progress normal & general with holdouts just that.

    It takes at least two generations for changes in social norms to really take. More like three. If there was a time of when the wommyn folk were all all girdles and cocktails in their kitchens it's been long enough that "heroines"-year isn't so much groundbreaking as ground being broken, right on track. It's a new frontier, taking the usual while to arrive.

    I do think the practical culture of people living their lives vs. making zeitgeist-y proclamations was never as Mad Men-ed as self-conscious articles in the Times like to project. (Find some interviews of people in that business at that time. "Gosh, kinda-sorta but not quite the way they show it." is the net.) Cultural artifacts like movie roles have been more sexist than the culture, not less, approximately forever. People doing stuff, with real stakes and small surpluses can't afford to leave talent fallow. This won't stop the Times from being smug for having noticed something Mostly Old News, and As It Should Be, encroaching in their myopic little world.

    Look at the slide show. The photographer & publication are more present than the subjects. "Look at what we're showing, at the choices we're making!" It's all so agenda-y & self-congratulatory.

    You're not half as interesting as your subjects. How about you make the next one about them. Meanwhile, bleh.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Oh, the one photo I love in the slideshow is Amy Adams. A beautiful new perspective on her face (seems a little Chloe Sevigny?)

  • Devlin

    Jennifer Lawrence is such a lovely woman....the brunette hair color really suits her (and I love her as a blonde!)...thanks for this Dustin, I found the article as well as the slideshow/video shorts very interesting.

  • Anna von Beav

    I would disagree with the inclusion of Kerry Washington as far as Django is concerned, because her character was quite literally the princess in need of rescue from the castle of the villain.

    EDIT: Although now I've read the article, I see she's not included there, only in the slideshow.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    The slideshow is weird. Just utterly unrelated. And even the definition of "heroine" seems to stretch - Shirley MacLaine in Bernie is a heroine?

    Jennifer Lawrence's look seems inspired by the pop star in Music & Lyrics.

  • I think they took small elements of each of their characters and pulled them into a high fashion shoot. Rebel Wilson jokes about mermaid dancing in Pitch Perfect. Helen Hunt is a New Agey sex therapist in The Sessions, so they have her meditate. Keira Knightley cries a lot in nature in Anna Karenina, so they had her sit on a chair outside with full makeup on. I can find connections for all of them based on the films they name.

    I do agree on Shirley MacLaine not quite fitting the trend they're going for. They could have chosen Marion Cotillard for Rust & Bone or Judi Dench for Skyfall and had a much more cohesive piece.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    They do have Marion Cotilliard in the slideshow. Though I'd argue that Dench's character in SkyFall is not heroic.

    Actually, I find the use of the word "heroine" odd, but I guess it's less clumsy than "female protagonist."

  • I must not have paid very close attention, then. My apologies.

    I think they're going for female lead who drives the action rather than anyone particularly heroic. For example, Anna Karenina refusing to abandon her lover while her husband offers her every ounce of leniency possible in Russian society isn't heroic, but it is driven by her own actions.

    The theme should probably be "Proactive Female Protagonists." All too often, the female lead only exists to support the male lead in prestige films. This year, the women garnering accolades are the driving force of the story. From that perspective, I'd say Dench counts.

    And if you don't buy that, Judi Dench also drives the action in Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Or just slap Helen Mirren in front of a green screen in a bikini and pretend Hitchcock was a great film.

  • Tinkerville

    Really love this slideshow. However, I do hope that this isn't seen as just a "trend of the year" and that heroine movies will become the norm now that they've proven to be successful. It'll be nice if Hollywood doesn't see the surge in strong women as something that they tried, happened to work for the year 2012, and then go back to the same old tired cliches. Keep the Katnisses coming, thnx.

    *hops off soapbox*

  • lowercase_ryan

    The more of these Heroins we have to worship, the better off we are as a society. It's a small step in the right direction, but it's a step none the less. The fact that these movies are getting made is a clear enough sign that things are changing. As they become more economically viable their numbers will increase. I'm all for this. In fact it can't happen soon enough.

    The message isn't that young women should aspire to play the hero, but rather that they can.

  • Artemis

    That slideshow makes me so happy. Turns out women can be the subjects of stunning, beautiful pictures without taking off their clothes or lying on a bed.

  • BWeaves

    Are we viewing the same slideshow? Instead of putting the women in classy suits, they're in cheap Halloween costumes with their boobs or crotches on display.

  • PDamian

    I checked. No boobs, unless you count Rebel Wilson in a full-coverage bra, and no crotches, unless you count Jennifer Lawrence in a granny panty under a filmy skirt. You sure you're not looking at Maxim?

  • shardik

    I don't think you're viewing the same slideshow......

  • oilybohunk7

    I don't know, that picture of Shirley MacLaine was pretty racy.

  • FrayedMachine

    Are you sure you're not looking at your porn folder because I quite literally do not see any picture that fits that description?

  • pfeiffer87

    THIS!

  • jus thinkin

    wait what?

    one of the two unfunny people in Bridesmaids is now popular and a heroine? woosh.
    Replace her with Pam from Archer if you need a larger blonde lady for your demographics.
    Avatar Korra should have been in here too - look outside the boxes people.

    One of the best arguments for greater gender balance in culture is to deepen up the pool of great examples so that the ones chosen are in fact great.

    I support the sentiment that people will continue to find ways to try not do justice to Ms Lawrence's head turning beauty, but she refuses to not make everything work at least a little bit

  • FrayedMachine

    Rebel Willson is actually really hilarious. She also was in Pitch Perfect which I've heard her performance was nothing short of spot on. If you watch her interviews, her timing is completely perfect.

    Also Avatar Korra is debatable, not to be a total dork, but that show did perform some cardinal sins in female representation (well, at least when it comes to Korra, all the other chicks were pretty bad ass and awesome. If we're going for bad ass animated female characters of the year, I'd much rather see Lin Bei Fong than Korra).

  • BWeaves

    Who are these ladies? And why are they posing with their boobs or the crotch on display?

  • Fabius_Maximus

    I have to agree. I maybe recognized 4 of them. The others are either too far away, or photoshopped to Oblivion.

  • Baba O'R'lyeh

    I would really like to trade the above version of Keira to the nearest convenient parallel dimension, in exchange for Miss Swan and a Jules Paxton to be named later.

  • ,

    Yawn. I like Jennifer Lawrence and all, but: Guess it had to be the Year of the Something. The alleged trend-spotters would look pretty silly if they couldn't say they'd spotted a trend, now, wouldn't they?

  • Logan

    Honest to god I thought that said Heroin worship and wondered why Heroin was making a big comeback.
    I still dont understand the article.

  • FrayedMachine

    Oh man. This slide show actually makes me very very happy. It's so nice to see so many of these well known actresses actually not being crammed into unnecessarily omgsexitup poses in order to celebrate them. Yay!

    ETA: Though that picture of Lawrence is a little too Britney Spears for my taste. why would you do that to that gorgeous girl.

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