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August 1996, Week 3


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Michael Plott <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 16 Aug 1996 13:10:23 -0400
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I sent this a few days ago---I thought I sent it to the list but it appears I
may have sent it to Simone privately (or maybe not----I am definitely NOT on
top of my computer's quirks)  If I am repeating myself, please forgive me.
In a message dated 96-08-15 10:46:26 EDT, you (Simone) write:
> I personally feel it is very distancing, because I
>can't relate to the characters.  Do you think that such
>characters are a result of people in Hollywood being out of
>touch with average people, and that the audience out there
>would like to see more characters like themselves?  Or do
>you think that Hollywood is right in offering people
>escapism - that this is what people still want?
I hope that my answer doesn't start a thread of sexists accusations (and my
comments are meant in a general manner----there are certainly many
"exceptions" on an individual level) but here goes my thoughts.
One of the ways that men and women actually differ is in the type of stories
that each find interesting.  As a rule, women are interested in character
motivations, interactions, and relationships whereas men are primarily
interested in action (this is not just my opinion----there are studies to
support this although I have to admit being unable to cite any specifics at
the moment).   This is one of the ways that movies become "defined" as a
"woman's" film or a "man's" film.
An example of the difference might be a film that centers around a pair of
police officers-----in a "woman's" movie the film could start with one
officer waking up beside his wife, perhaps contrasted by the other officer
waking up alone in an empty, cluttered apartment..   There could be several
minutes of footage showing the family guy interacting with his family,
followed by more minutes of interacting with other officers before meeting
his partner and going on patrol----basically the film invests some time to
establish the "who" and the "why" of the characters.
Most men tolorate this "preamble" graciously, but would be just as happy to
have the film start with the two officers sitting in a patrol car just
seconds before getting into a wild car chase/shootout.    Another words
(generally speaking), women are more interested in the people (who and why)
and men are more interested in the action (what and how).
That is, I think, one reason you won't see too many of life's mundane hurdles
(quality housing, affording college, etc.) on film, unless it is in a film
that is "designated" as a "woman's" film (or integral to the plot).
Another factor is that (I believe)  people prefer to identify with characters
that they would like to be (or to be like)---that is usually the case with
standard written fiction and I see no reason why film should differ greatly.
On a personal note (speaking only for myself), I prefer escapism in film
(unless I am watching PBS or something else educational in nature)----that is
generally the whole point of seeing a film for me.   If I want real life, I
can watch the news or talk to my neighbors, basically I can intereact with
the real world in any number of ways-----when I decide to see a movie, I am
paying money to be entertained in a manner not commonly available outside of
Having said all that let me add that I hope that I haven't offended (or
bored) anyone with my comments and I hope Simone, that you have much luck in
finding films enjoyable to yourself.
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