I’m not supposed to write about political fallout. Like Hillary Clinton and sexism, Obama and racism, or McCain and ageism. But I’m not stopped from writing about these issues when they show up in other parts of the culture.
So today’s topic is sexism — specifically, sexism Hollywood-style.
Like the chick flick “Sex and the City,” which opened recently to a tremendous box office — about $55 million in its first three days, according to projections.
Can a film about women — one of them is even 50! — possibly succeed in a summer devoted to manly movies?
Who goes to the movies, anyway?
Well, men, even straight men, bought tickets the first weekend of “Sex and the City.” Really!
Still, the industry is cautious: “This movie really will be a paternity test for R-rated female-driven romantic comedies,” said analyst Jeff Bock of box-office tracker Reel Source. “There haven’t been a lot of movies like this.”
He thinks ticket sales will drop off after the first weekend because “there’s no getting around that this is a film oriented to women and gay men, and it will be very hard to get past that, especially with a lot of testosterone-driven films out there this summer.”
Truth is, women don’t usually run out to see a movie on opening weekend, says Melissa Silverstein, whose Web site, Womenandhollywood.com, has commentary about women and the film industry.
And that’s a problem because the Hollywood types measure success by opening weekend ticket sales.
“But, you know, women take longer to make decisions. They usually want more information, ask five friends if they should buy a ticket, then ask five more. Hollywood is so fixated on instant gratification they can’t deal with this type of marketing,” she says.
“Their usual model is to cast as wide a net as possible. Bring in as many as possible. Like ‘Spider-Man.’ Throw in a girl and it’s good for date night.”
The issue is the core audience of women, says Pat Williamson, professor of Broadcast and Cinema at Central Michigan University.
“Women over 50 usually are viewed as not wanting to bother going to the theater,” she says. “They supposedly wait for the DVD.”
And guys don’t want to watch chick flicks, she adds.
When she put on a “Sex and the City” video in a media critic course she teaches, there were groans from the guys. They couldn’t bear to sit through a show about women, Williamson says.
“Meanwhile there are hundreds of films that target young men that women sit through,” she says.
Which could bring us back to politics, and the question of whether or not Hillary can’t get votes simply because she’s a woman, even if she does wear a pantsuit.
But then that would suggest that Obama raises the same hidden racial questions as the questions raised in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”?
And McCain? Are we ready to revive “Father Knows Best”?
But no politics.
I’m amused that a film creates so much buzz around its audience.
“No movie about men or starring men has ever had to deal with headlines like ‘Can Women Alone Make “Sex and the City” a Hit?’ ” Silverstein says.
What a devilish dilemma. Seems the guys that run Hollywood are forgetting it’s the boomer chicks who can afford to buy all that Prada stuff.
Let’s see if money really talks.