One of the things I’ve been paying attention to lately is the content creation niche that’s dedicated to arguing why every project by women fails. I’m in a few “Star Trek” groups (shock) and one of the ‘analysts’ we regularly shake our heads at is Doomcock. Now first off, he should really get that checked out by a doctor. Secondly, he traffics in “inside rumors” and “sources” that he insists makes him a resource for prognosticating the future of shows.
He’s railed against newer “Star Trek” series by insisting they’ve turned their backs on the previous eras by focusing on inclusivity and diversity. Never mind the inclusivity and diversity of the entire canon. Hell, “The Next Generation” spent an episode discussing assisted suicide, followed up by an episode where Riker tries to save someone from conversion therapy. That was in 1992, the year before they launched a show where a Black commander, his best friend who’d changed genders, and a famed terrorist led “Deep Space Nine”. This was all unheard of in 90s TV; if anything, modern Trek could stand to push boundaries even more.
Where is this going? Doomcock (see a doctor!) and those like him rely on their “sources” to break news like “Star Trek: Discovery” getting canceled. It wasn’t; it would subsequently film its fourth season. His “sources” revealed that “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” would never even get to filming. It finished filming its first season in July. Nearly every rumor is complete fabrication, nearly every source unreliable to an historic degree. And yet…people still tune in because it feeds the narrative they want to hear – one that says shows about women, that prioritize women, that are made by women, and that focus on inclusivity, diversity, and intersectionalism are all doomed to failure. It feeds the thinking that these are things that are unsustainable in our culture, instead of the reality that we keep renewing them and getting more of these shows because there’s such an audience and hunger for them.
One of the biggest narratives this cottage industry of hate has been pushing this year is the failure of “Black Widow”. Why, it’s a $200 million film that’s only made $180 million domestic! Forget the pandemic, forget that it’s made around 75% more on Disney+. (Disney’s own figures put its opening weekend at $60 million on Disney+, in addition to the $80 million it made in theaters).
“Black Widow” is a film directed by Cate Shortland, the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s second film centered on a woman protagonist and first directed solely by a woman (“Captain Marvel” was helmed by directing team Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck). It has to be a failure. They cannot fathom or allow it to be interpreted as successful.
The reality is that “Black Widow” stands as the highest earning movie at the box office this year at $180.6 million. “F9: The Fast Saga” is second at $172.6 million, and “A Quiet Place Part II” is third at $160.1 million. Nothing else crests $100 million.
“Black Widow” very likely made at least another $140 million via streaming, which would make it more profitable than any of the three “Thor” movies that have been released. People like Doomcock (at least get some ointment!) make excuses for similarly expensive movies led by men – they came out during a pandemic, they have same-day streaming releases – while calling the most watched and highest earning movie of the year a failure. It must be in order to fit their narrative.
This happens in a year where Kate Herron directed every episode of “Loki”, Kari Skogland directed every episode of “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier”, and Jac Schaeffer showran “WandaVision”, all three of them popular successes and media darlings.
We saw the same thing in 2020 with Cathy Yan’s “Birds of Prey”, the sixth highest earner all year, declared a failure. The results of films by men are given excuses, whereas films by women are held to a standard as if the pandemic isn’t even happening. Be in the top six and it’s a failure. Be the top performer and it’s a failure. Men get the contract to direct the sequel no matter how they perform. Women effectively get fired from the franchise. Leading a movie? Could you imagine Disney+ refusing to pay Chris Hemsworth? Meanwhile Scarlett Johansson has to sue to get half her pay in a film that outperformed all three of his.
On to this week:
King of Boys: The Return of the King (Netflix)
showrunner Kemi Adetiba
“King of Boys” was a 2018 Nigerian political thriller about power struggles and corruption. It centers on a woman, Alhaja Eniola Salami (played by Sola Sobowale). The TV series continuation “King of Boys: The Return of the King” sees Salami return after 5 years of exile in a ruthless attempt to seize power.
Kemi Adetiba created, wrote, and directed both the movie and this new, seven-part limited series. She’s won numerous awards within Nigeria’s music video industry.
You can watch “King of Boys: Return of the King” on Netflix.
Really Love (Netflix)
directed by Angel Kristi Williams
A Black painter tries to break through the art world in a rapidly gentrifying Washington, D.C. that’s less and less interested in Black art. He tries to balance this with his personal life, but he may not have the energy for both.
This is director and co-writer Angel Kristi Williams’s first feature film.
You can watch “Really Love” on Netflix.
Take a look at new shows + movies by women from past weeks.
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