Heroine for dummies: Here's how to write women for the big screen if you are a man

This weekly column is a rumination on how women are portrayed in cinema and this week the author writes a satirical piece on how to write women for the big screen.

Published: 13th March 2019 11:20 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th March 2019 02:19 PM   |  A+A-

For representational purposes.

Express News Service

PoP: Write the entire script. Then look for loopholes. Create a prop, like Plaster of Paris it will serve the purpose of plugging these holes. That’s your leading lady.

Joke: Do not forget to make fun of women, and hey, refer to the genderqueer in only ‘ha-ha’ stereotypical contexts. 

Siren: Write a small bit always for the titillation of the leading man, and the males who are your only audience, obviously, duh. If women choose to come watch it in the theatres with their monies then that’s their problem sir. Not yours. Did you advertise that they will be paying to see agency and empowered sexuality on screen? They should have known that by showing up for the movies they are subsidising the male gaze. 

‘I hate gals’: This is just your garden variety hates-all-other-women-and-hangs-only-with-dudes, born-out-of-the-brains-of-a-misogynist and does-not-exist-in-real-life role. A classic.

Meaty: The kitchen is not a woman’s rightful place, damn right you are, you progressive writer man. It is the sidelines. From where she watches nah, cheers on fiercely, as her man chases glory. This is what we’d call a meaty role for the female lead.

The wife joke: I know we already covered jokes but this deserves special mention. String together a bunch of highly forwarded WhatsApp jokes by male persons about their wives being nags, so original, ha, it’s like they are in your living room. And there you have it. A family film. 

Frozen: What’s better than a teeny bit role for a woman in a big film about a boy? A dead woman in a refrigerator. She dies so that the dude can get to the plot of the film. Avenging. All is well that ends well, when he meets new woman, another bit role, in the process. Touching. 

The anti-Bechdel: You writing two women? You must be so edgy. Every time they meet, if ever they do I mean, they have nothing else to discuss. Not itchy boobs, not sinusitis, or the new movie. Definitely not their careers. Or their nails or hair. Nothing existential because women don’t care about mortality, ok? Not their mental health, nothing to do with MeToo. Not debilitating PMDD. Never. They will discuss your main man. That’s the brief and damn they will do a good job of it.

Checklist: Think up a bunch of characteristics. Et voila. You have your heroine. Who needs a character arc when you can just have ticks. She is too tall, for instance. Or she is headstrong (hello shrew to tame). She’s a saint. She’s a sinner. She’s a combination of both (ooh edgy again).

Straightforward: She’s there. That’s all you need to know.

(The writer is a city-based journalist and editor)

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