When I was a child I read books about teenagers who lived in domes and had battery packs implanted under their skin. I read Fahrenheit 451 and Nineteen Eighty-Four before I was quite old enough to understand them and as a teenager I was introduced to the wonders of William Gibson and my affection for science fiction was well and truly forged. As a young adult I wrote a play set in a post apocalyptic future (my favourite kind of future) and then after that other things took over. I disconnected from the Mainframe and lost interest for a while.
But every now and then something pulls me back. Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro for instance, full of psychological drama and interesting relationships set against a neat science fiction conceit, was my kind of story. So it was with excitement that I settled down to watch Looper. Nothing like a bit of dystopia to brighten up your weekend, I thought. But while the film was stylish, gripping, brilliantly acted and full of clever ideas, it left me cold.
Where were all the women?
Within the film there are two proper speaking female roles. A Stripper and a Mother. Oh and a non speaking healing-wanna-be-mother-woman who looks beautiful and gets killed. Yay.
Perhaps I could have overlooked this if the film had been set in a time when the majority of women’s options were fewer. But guess what? We don’t live in the past anymore. We live in a world in which there are lots of women. Some of them have jobs. Some of them do things which are not connected to men. Some of them are not mothers and do not wish to be. Some of them have friends. Some of them are leaders. Some of them are criminals. And this is the world we live in, in 2012. So why weren’t there any female gang members, any female vagrants, or even any female loopers? Looper is set in the future and yet where women are concerned it was set firmly in the past.
I don’t want to live in a world where my options are either (a) strip and have sex with a man you’re not bothered about to support your children or (b) Incongruously have sex with a man you barely know (even though it puts you both in danger) and make sure your world revolves around your child.
So if that’s the future then hand me my blunderbuss. I’m off to close my loop.