These past few weeks, it seems I can hardly walk a block without hearing someone mention Richard Linklater’s so-called “masterpiece,” Boyhood. As if I need to hear the word “boy” more than I already do.
My question for Linklater, and for we as a culture, is: Why not Girlhood?
I bet you weren’t expecting that, Academy. I bet you WEREN’T expecting women everywhere to call you out for your blatant disregard for women in film. Why is Oscar a man, anyway? Why not Oscarella?
When we make movies about boys (OR “men” OR “gentlemen” OR “fellas” OR “foreskins”), we promote the same male narrative that has dominated the human narrative since Cleopatra’s sacred demise. We’ve heard this story before! And maybe it’s time for a rewrite. A rewrite in period blood on my BREASTS.
Let’s start with the opening scene. A boy surrounded by blades of grass? Last time I checked, blades of grass are PHALLIC SYMBOLS. This boy is supported by MILLIONS OF TINY PATRIARCHIES. Surprise: This scene FAILS the Bechdel Test. In Girlhood, each of those blades of grass would be three-dimensional female characters, like little blades of grass with faces and tiny purses, talking to other three-dimensional female blades of grass about something other than a man. And, obviously, the boy kid is gone. Now, doesn’t that sound like a better movie?
Then we have the “male adolescence” part, which is basically three-quarters of the entire film. Really? They couldn’t even TRY to recast the boy and tell the story of an evolving pre-pubescent girl instead? Just because you wanted to maintain “continuity” in the story? You don’t even know what storytelling is, you cowards.
When I have a little girl, I hope she never has to be subjected to a movie like Boyhood. I hope that we as a culture can take all the elements that critics are raving about — the sweet, nostalgic soundtrack, the realistic yet idiosyncratic dialogue — and use them to pass WOMAN-FRIENDLY legislation to get the PATRIARCHAL NARRATIVE out of our COLLECTIVE UTERUS (Our Collective Uterus = my old riot grrrl band).
It’s time our movie screens started reflecting the movie screens in our hearts. And until that day, I refuse to see movies such as Boyhood, no matter how hot he gets by the second half.