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Disparity in criticism of action films indicative of misogyny in Hollywood

Lauren Sanchez

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The most recent “Tomb Raider” film debuted earlier this month and, unfortunately, flopped. Based off the 2013 Square Enix game, the film’s plot is weak and the writing is even weaker. The highlight of the film is Alicia Vikander’s acting as Lara Croft, the first actress to pick it up the role in a live action film adaptation of the game series after Angelina Jolie.

There are a lot of problems with this film, however, I’m not here to talk about them. I’m here to talk about the criticism surrounding the film and why it’s unfair. The New York Times concluded that “Tomb Raider” has “a generic story, bad writing, a miscast lead, the wrong director and no fun.”

While I can agree with some of these claims, I must also ask: Why are we so eager to criticize action films with female leads, but continue to allow mediocre male led films to be made without holding them to the same arbitrary standard?

By the end of 2018, there will be six “Mission Impossible” movies in total, there are currently ten “Fast and Furious” movies and seven “Transformers” films. These movies are all objectively bad and feature bad actors as their leads, yet they still produce sequels upon sequels that only serve to snatch cash out of people’s pockets who are obsessed with feelings of nostalgia. The 12 film around has to be as good as the first right?

Wrong. And though critics like Rotten Tomatoes have always been critical, other critics go easy on these films. So why are they instead going after female led films? I’m not trying to say that these films don’t warrant criticism, every film is worthy of criticism. However, the levels of disdain held for women within the action genre is appalling and not well hidden in the least.

Action films with female leads generally have to be over the top. Female directors and actresses have to work twice as hard as male directors and actors in the film industry because women are held to higher standards than men in Hollywood. The bar for men is, let’s say, just a couple feet off the ground; a man can sit comfortably on the bar set for them. Women need a ladder to even reach the bar critics and audiences set for women in the industry.

Take the all female remake of “Ghostbusters” for example. Though the film received a 74 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, people were damning the film before it was even released, right when the teaser trailer dropped in fact. Supposed men’s rights activists were furious about the cast of  “Mad Max: Fury Road” being comprised mainly of women. More recently, men have started fuming over the new “Ocean’s 8” film set to release in June this year.

Now we can sit here all day and wonder why people are so critical of women in action films, or in Hollywood in general, but we all know the answer: it’s misogyny. It’s people awarding men for mediocre work and tearing women down for work that is both equally as bad or ten times better.

Again, all this isn’t to say that “Tomb Raider” is free of criticism; there are a lot of rough, even terrible, parts of the film. Still, we as an audience need to acknowledge the disparity in criticism between female led action films and male led action films.

About the Writer
Lauren Sanchez, Viewpoints Section Editor

I am Lauren Sanchez — a Communication major with a focus in Journalism at St. Edward's University. I'm currently the Viewpoints Section Editor for Hilltop...

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Disparity in criticism of action films indicative of misogyny in Hollywood