Should Women Be Fuming Over Furious 7?
Women come in four flavors in Furious 7: sexpot, tough chick, nerd (albeit a beautiful one) and the long-suffering victim wife. Despite what we’re sold about female empowerment, the women in this movie are pure fiction; stereotypical, one-dimensional characters designed as background filler in this high action male-oriented story. Not one of these women has enough substance to make them appealing and they’re certainly not worth emulating.
Does that mean I have a problem with the men in the story? Not at all. Let them hurl themselves from speeding cars, fight with wrenches if they must, and parachute out of airplanes. Let them swagger. Let them glower. Let them blow things up. But, for the females in the audience, give us women that contribute to the story. Give us women worth watching.
The sexpots come with the minimally required fabric to maintain a PG-13 rating. They pose sensually on the edges of the scene sprinkled in gold glitter. They hand out drinks, or strut across the periphery in a bikini and high heels. They are the mannequins draped in expensive evening gowns at the prince’s party. None of them get a speaking line, or even a name. And when they do get a few quick seconds on center stage, it has nothing to do with their intelligence or problem-solving skills.
Letty is the tough chick that tags along with the boys, throws a few good punches and can even win a street race—with Dom’s help. But she doesn’t contribute much else. Maybe that’s because we’re supposed to believe underneath that tough facade is an emotionally fragile being in need of love. Unfortunately this kind of girl would rather knock out your front teeth than ask for help. We want women who are strong and resilient but not consumed with attitude.
Maybe the best twist in Furious 7 is that the computer hacker is a girl, but not just any girl. No skewed glasses or pimples here. Ramsey is a beautiful nerd who uses a binary approach to decide who to trust. If you have the right code, you’re in. However, Ramsey doesn’t have enough common sense to outwit her own computer code by keeping her face hidden from the cameras that tract a person’s whereabouts.
Finally there’s Mia, the beautiful, long-suffering wife who would rather wallow in her own misery than ask her husband to miss a bullet-riddled night out with the boys. She doesn’t tell him she’s pregnant until her man is at the most vulnerable part of the mission. Then she springs it on him, supposedly to motivate him to stay safe. But it seems like a lot of undue pressure on a guy who should have had known he’s about to be a dad before he heading out on another dangerous mission.
The longer I watched these women uselessly fill up screen space, the more frustrated I became. No one expects a movie like Furious 7 to deal with pressing social issues. But it won’t only be guys filling theater seats to see this turbo-charged flick. So when will Hollywood realize you can’t tell girls they are being empowered by taking off their clothes, throwing a punch or standing on the sidelines?