So I’ve been watching movie trailers all morning (because that’s how I procrastinate), and I came across one for Jupiter Ascending, produced by Warner Bros. Pictures. It’s a sci-fi action-adventure film starring Mila Kunis as the eponymous protagonist. Here’s the synopsis for it on the Apple Movie Trailers page:
Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) was born under a night sky, with signs predicting that she was destined for great things. Now grown, Jupiter dreams of the stars but wakes up to the cold reality of a job cleaning other people’s houses and an endless run of bad breaks. Only when Caine (Channing Tatum), a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, arrives on Earth to track her down does Jupiter begin to glimpse the fate that has been waiting for her all along—her genetic signature marks her as next in line for an extraordinary inheritance that could alter the balance of the cosmos.
Hey, sounds pretty good right? One of those rare films where a woman is actually the main character and hero of the film.
Gee, according to the trailer, the movie is all about Channing Tatum and how he’s going to save Jupiter’s butt over and over again. His character, called Caine, is set-up as virtually the primary premise of the film. He’s the “perfect hunting machine” who has been waiting all his life to apparently kill Jupiter, a princess who doesn’t know her real power. But of course he just ends up rescuing her in various situations.
What’s going on here? Why the disconnect between the actual synopsis of the film and its trailer?
Margot Magowan of Reel Girl tackled this common conundrum in a post about Disney’s film Frozen, but its lessons still apply here. One key way Hollywood frequently undermines female characters and heroines is by not letting them “dominate posters or previews,” she writes. Movie producers do this because they think people – especially boys and men – won’t go see a film with a woman in the leading role.
But their assumptions are grossly inaccurate. According to the Women’s Media Center, when controlled for budget, films with female protagonists make just as much money as films with male leads. Movies with larger budgets make more money regardless of which sex is playing the main character.
So do your homework, Warner Brothers! And way to ruin the trailer of a potentially good film. I clicked on the clip because I was excited by the plot and the fact that it seemed the film was going to center around a cool and powerful female lead. Guess the lesson here is I shouldn’t get my hopes up.
Want to see more sexism? Take a look at some of these promotional photos. Here’s Jupiter in a seductive and sexually objectifying pose, while Caine gets to stare menacingly into the camera.
Again, even though Jupiter is supposed to be the main character and potentially the savior of the Universe, it’s Caine who comes across as tough and in charge.
So this is the mentality of Hollywood, folks. I really hope the actual film is a lot better. It’s directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski (previously known as the Wachowski brothers) and you would think that having a woman at the helm would help make the film more gender empowered/balanced. So fingers-crossed the trailer was someone else’s idea and a momentary lapse in judgment.
Although… the Wachowskis also directed The Matrix, and I found that movie to be pretty sexist, too. Female character Trinity’s main role in that film is just to fall in love with “the One” (that’s what the Oracle said was her destiny, of course!). Neo, however, goes on to save the world.
Because he’s a man. Ugh.