In most forms of media today, we often don’t get to see a lot of strong, independent female lead characters. This has been a phenomenon occurring in media for some time now, with a few exceptions. It’s also a problem commonly talked about by other female media critics such as Feminist Film who notice this trend, and also other trends about female characters being confined to a limited variety of archetypes commonly shown in films and TV shows that largely miss represent women and girls.
This issue fully explored in the documentary Miss Representation which features the opinions and critics of various feminist critics and activists, even the well known feminist author Gloria Steinem has turned into a social media campaign engaging young girls in teaching their friends and families about this misrepresentation of women and girls in today’s media.
Not only are other feminists identifying common inaccurate portrayals of women and girls in movies and TV shows, but they are also identifying these inaccurate portrayals in other forms of media such as video games; a topic explored deeply by feminist critic Annitta Sarkesian and her web series Feminist Frequency in which she analyzes the role of women and girls in video games.
In Sarkeesian’s web series she actually identifies several female archetypes that are used in video games that are similar to the female archetypes that are discussed in Michelle Stettler’s blog Feminist Truths. Similar to Stettler’s blog is another blog known as Women and Hollywood written by Melissa Silverstein where in one post she questioned not only the reasoning behind the female archetypes commonly seen in action films.
Though the opinions and research done on female representation in popular media media such as TV, movies, and video games do not seem to be making a major impact on these industries in the way that female characters are portrayed, there are in fact efforts being made to to encourage these industries to provide a more diverse and positive portrayal of women and girls in these media industries. One of the most significant things to come out in recent years is the creation of the Belcher Test which is a newly created pass/fail test used to analyze the role of women in movies.
The Belcher Test may still be still being adopted as a viable test for rating female portrayals in movies, but it is a step in the right direction. Hopefully someday there other tests to hold other media industries accountable for their portrayal of female characters, and even more so hopefully we will see a new generation in popular media that will see independent female characters more prevalent than ever before.