Looper: Where Are All The Women?

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.

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9 thoughts on “Looper: Where Are All The Women?

  1. On the other hand, it could be seen to paint men as evil, selfish, power/money-hungry narcissists who require a woman’s company to give meaning to their lives.

  2. @subcide because of course, that’s our purpose. To give men meaning. #sigh Ooh, to live in a world where women might be valid in their own right. FFS.

    • Hi Chris, I agree that she was written as a determined, “plucky” character and was (incidentally) brilliantly performed by Emily Blunt. However, the character was nevertheless defined by the men around her. She had no on screen interaction with any women (there didn’t seem to be any in her life) and her world revolved around her boy and a man she met and slept with. The broader point I was trying to make was why a world set in the future was so underpopulated by normal women, women who were leaders, women who had friendships in the way that the men did etc. I thought it was a stylish, clever film….but (like a lot of female cinema go-ers) I thought it would have been even more clever to see a more balanced and forward thinking portrayal of women.

      • Hmmm. Yes – actually thinking about it, I take your point. Do you think this is a recent development though or has it always been this way? Not that either of these would be good, obviously.

      • Good question. Thankfully there are loads of great films which feature female characters who aren’t defined by men nowadays aren’t there? But it didn’t used to be the case, so to me it felt like a bit of a film noir type throwback. On another (but relevant) note I saw Beasts of the Southern Wild recently which is an incredible film with a young girl at its centre. She is such an amazing female character (and wonderful young actress) who didn’t fit in to any stereotype at all. It was so refreshing. Highly recommend it!

  3. The women in the Alien films (namely Ripley and Noomi Rapace’s character in the new one are a step in the right direction. Whatever other faults Prometheus might have!
    Women in sci fi… am tempted to spin this off into an article of my own?

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