Marketing and gender

Salon’s got a short piece about gender in movie marketing:

But then, why play the tired old Hollywood-marketing game of hanging a prescribed gender tag on art? Not trusting her own view of the works at hand, James has to blame the fact that she doesn’t like them on her sex. It’s an approach that renders serious thought about movies, and the ways we respond to them, meaningless. Why think critically, when you can just consult the imaginary focus group in your mind?

But there’s a danger to positing that certain types of movies are “for” audiences of either gender. That’s how you get a world of “inclusionary” and “exclusionary” art, instead of art that cuts across gender lines (or, for that matter, racial lines) to speak to everyone. I have a male friend whose tastes typically run to horror movies, but he adores the television adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice” — it’s one of those things he says he could watch anytime. And there are exactly two women in Peter Weir’s “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World,” and one of them is a miniature painting in a locket. What’s more, there’s lots of battles and gunfire — two more elements that you might characterize as appealing to men specifically. Yet I don’t see “Master and Commander” as a “men’s” movie at all. Are women somehow less well-equipped to enjoy a picture that’s beautifully shot, and whose story is well told, intuitively acted and marvelously paced, just because it has a masculine aura around it? Do you need to be a man to respond to “typically masculine” notions of nobility and heroism?


  1. Link? Well, I don’t have a salon subscription, so maybe it wouldn’t matter.

    Hollywood moviemaking is an inherently risky business, yet Hollywood executives tend to be amazingly risk averse. They compartmentalize their audience in many, many ways, not just along lines of gender and race. They focus group too much and try to second-guess their audience too much.

    I think–and this is entirely speculation–that if the executives would loosen up a bit, the audience would still be receptive.

  2. Oop! Link’s there now. I do that all the time, gah.

    You can read the whole piece if you click through all of Salon’s ads and things.

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