By Hilary Caton
When a bored channel surfer lands on the W network it is no surprise to see The Wedding Planner playing for the third week in a row, followed by both Bridget Jones films. It’s also no surprise what the channel surfer does next— continues surfing.
“I’ll turn it on for two seconds and change the channel because the movies are usually lame,” said Noura Ali a third year Canadian Studies student at York University.
Clearly, this has got to stop. The W network has played all the romantic comedies they could get their hands on and frankly the public needs more diversity. Their target audience, women, don’t always want to see films that show Diane Lane pick up the last pieces of her self-esteem after a divorce in Under the Tuscan Sun, or watch Drew Barrymore date a boyfriend with a dual personality as soon as baseball season starts in Fever Pitch.
“They all revolve around women who are all soft and believe life is not complete without a man. It’s pathetic,” said Ali.
What about the films with a strong female lead that isn’t always looking for love in the wrong places, or even the right places? You don’t have to be a raging feminist to see the lopsidedness of the situation. What’s missing is the badass women of film.
The W should also stand for ‘work’ which is what their line up of Saturday afternoon movies needs. The network’s Saturday Triple Flix department needs a serious overhaul, with the main problem being weak female characters in their films. The problem with their range of movies is that there really is no range at all. All the women are portrayed as emotionally vulnerable for the majority for the movie until, of course, a man enters the picture. He’s either ridiculously obnoxious to the point where he wins her over, or he’s mysterious and exotic like nothing she’s ever had or he’s the classic archetypal hero, who saves her from whatever menacing element is in her life. Yawn! Why do women have to be weak and unable to do things on their own without the insertion of a stud in the picture? What happened to those stereotypes being left behind in the 60s along with the aspiration to be housewife or a secretary?
What’s shocking is that the W Network is designed to target and capture the interests of women. How could they possibly think that all women want to watch is countless heroines fall in love? It’s pretty one-dimensional if you ask me. It also shows that they don’t seem to know their target audience all that well, if overly sweet romantic films like The Notebook and Titanic are being played in a constant loop. What the W network is lacking is the concept that women are multi-faceted beings when it comes to films. Not only do they like the romantic film, but they like films that show women with as many sides as them. This is where the empowering films come in.
Instead of the old run-of-the-mill romance films, or rom-coms that make up the W networks movie line up perhaps they should consider the following films that depict strong women. Take Tomb Raider for example, Angelina Jolie plays Lara Croft an adventurous, cunning, athletic, and sexy relic hunter who plays hardball with the boys and wins; often by a long shot. She’s basically the female Indiana Jones. This film shows that women can be tough, physically and mentally, and still be sexy without being stereotyped as butch.
There’s also Kill Bill Vol 1. and 2. that shows a vengeful, sword swinging, knife wielding Uma Thurman, whose one and only goal is to kill Bill. What’s great about this character is her determination; it’s so strong that no one stands in her way no matter how many times the odds aren’t in her favour. It also shows three string women characters, played by Lucy Lui, Vivica A. Fox and Daryl Hannah. The movie does a great job at showing the dark side of women, which is rare to see in this form.
Although the W Network plays the traditional romantic comedy or just plain romance drama, once in a blue moon they’ll show movies like Thelma and Louise or Little Miss Sunshine, mixed in with a little You, Me and Dupree. But the amount of movies where women are chasing men undoubtedly outnumber the few good films they play. So, let’s hope the new year will bring about new beginnings for the W network, and have the W stand for something intellectually diverse, strong-willed and empowering—Women.