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Anna Faris and Women at the Movies: Not a Pretty Picture

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood April 11, 2011 at 6:19AM

In last week's issue of The New Yorker, Tad Friend cleverly uses a profile of comedienne Anna Faris ("Funny Like a Guy") as a way to examine the woeful state of women's roles in Hollywood today. He interviews Stacey Snider, Amy Pascal, Judd Apatow and others as he attempts to understand why Hollywood, dominated by men, so demeans and discourages smart movies by and about women.
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Thompson on Hollywood

In last week's issue of The New Yorker, Tad Friend cleverly uses a profile of comedienne Anna Faris ("Funny Like a Guy") as a way to examine the woeful state of women's roles in Hollywood today. He interviews Stacey Snider, Amy Pascal, Judd Apatow and others as he attempts to understand why Hollywood, dominated by men, so demeans and discourages smart movies by and about women.

The article reminds us that men don't think women are funny, that the studios believe that women will go to see movies about men, but men will NEVER go to a rom-com, which therefore command much lower budgets. And an actress like Faris can only carry a modest-scale movie because she, unlike Reese Witherspoon, doesn't have pull overseas. That means that in her next picture, she should co-star with an actress who does. Who's ahead of her in the Hollywood pecking order? Witherspoon, Cameron Diaz, Kate Hudson, Katherine Heigl, Anne Hathaway and Natalie Portman, among others.

See the New Yorker promo video of Faris below.

Photo of Anna Faris and husband Chris Pratt courtesy of The New Yorker.

Thompson on Hollywood

Faris, to her credit, is turning down what she calls "bounce card," or thankless girl friend roles, in favor of developing and writing her own stuff, as Kristen Wiig did in the upcoming Bridesmaids, which basically tries to outdo the males as a dumb female comedy.

Only subscribers can link to all of this lengthy article online, which I read on a plane (of course). No, the New Yorker wants you to buy the issue (which makes me crazy):

(Subscribers can read the full text; others can buy access to the issue via the digital edition.)

You can't link to the full article online; I was able to copy a full page from the digital edition (which I hate), when I would much rather blockquote pieces of text, which is also better than paraphrasing. Why not use an accessible story like this to drive more readers to the site? On the other hand, the magazine is trying to increase its Facebook followers by offering exclusive Jonathan Franzen content.

Meanwhile, Faris's Scary Movie series co-star, Neve Campbell, complains that Hollywood lacks originality. Another actress continues to fight the good gender fight in Hollywood: Geena Davis (Thelma and Louise), via The Geena Davis Center on Gender and Media. And Women and Hollywood argues that Saturday Night Live botched an opportunity to do right by older actresses (as they did with Betty White) by turning Helen Mirren's appearance into a show about her boobs.

This article is related to: Genres, Women in Film, Media, comedy, Romance


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.