October 26, 2016
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The rush to cast young actresses as fairy tale princesses

HollywoodNews.com: There were a few interesting articles written over the last several months about the unusual amount of ass-kicking (or at least take-charge) young female roles being written into mainstream cinema. Whether it was Chloe Moretz in Kick-Ass, Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit, Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone, or Saoirse Ronan in Hanna, the last 18 months or so has seen a mini-wave of genre pictures where young females were basically the lead characters (or in the case of Kick-Ass the star attraction), ‘strong independent character’ (god, I hate that cliche) who not only could fend for themselves but were not defined in any way, shape, or form by their male love interest (not a one of them had a boyfriend).

Yes, I would include Sucker Punch in this category, as it was basically a satiric examination of whether ass-kicking young women in pop culture were automatically sexualized by virtue of the salacious nature of such imagery (stop whining and read THIS). The somewhat negative undercurrent of this trend is that these actresses were generally under 18, often barely passed puberty. Point being, what would become of these actresses once they reached adulthood? If recent developments are any indication, Hollywood has a genuine desire to roll back the progress clock and turn these actresses into fairy tale princesses.

At the moment, we now have two competing variations on Snow White set to be released in the next year. One, pictured above, will star Lily Collins (from The Blind Side and soon to be seen as Taylor Lautner’s token girlfriend in Abduction) as the titular princess, while the other will star Kristen Stewart as the ‘fairest of them all’. Both are claiming to be somewhat revisionist, and for the moment I shall take them at their word.

But no matter how much armor and battle-axes you give Snow White, you’re still hiring one of our more talented actresses (say what you will about Twilight, but she absolutely sells Bella Swann and shines in the likes of Adventureland) to play a woman whose primary job is to run away from an evil witch, play house with a bunch of asexual dwarves, then finally bite a poison apple and await rescue from a theoretical Prince Charming. Of course, you could argue that Ms. Collins isn’t one of the ‘great actresses of our time’ yet. But the fact that we have two competing projects based on Snow White is a sad commentary on our times, both as a statement about how obsessed the studios are with any kind of brand recognition as well as the kind of roles available for actresses on the cusp of adulthood.

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About Scott Mendelson

Mendelson's Memos: The basics - 30 years old, married with one child, currently residing in Woodland Hills, CA. I am simply a longtime film critic and pundit of sorts, especially in the realm of box office. The main content will be film reviews, trailer reviews, essays, and box office analysis and comparison. I also syndicate myself at The Huffington Post and Open Salon. I will update as often as my schedule allows. Yes, I'm on Facebook/Twitter/LinkIn, so feel free to find me there. All comments are appreciated, just be civil and try to keep a level discourse, as I will make every effort to do the same. Read more at Mendelson's Memos:

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One Comment

  • July 29, 2011 | Permalink |

    Great comments Scott, and kudos once again for taking the time to understand Sucker Punch’s angle on the subject.

    I have been blogging about this, but hadn’t really considered the idea that the Snow White films could be a step backward. Let’s hope that at least one of them is revisionist enough to modernize the whole story – keeping only the name. There’s actually potential for a cool, ironic type of film.

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