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How the Demise of the Romantic Comedy Will Affect Women

Women and Hollywood By Melissa Silverstein | Women and Hollywood February 28, 2014 at 11:15AM

Some reasons behind the death of a genre.
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nora ephron

Writer Amy Nicholson takes a hard look at the death of a genre -- the romantic comedy -- in her fantastic LA Weekly piece "Who Killed the Romantic Comedy?" 

Let's keep in mind that the romantic comedy was a place where we saw women, where we saw women writers, and where we saw women directors, so the demise of the genre is quite troubling. Think about it -- where would we be without Nora Ephron? Nicholson reports that over the last decade the rom-com (as it was best known) went from having five films making over $100 million (in 2005) to 2013 where not a single romantic comedy was in the top 100 grossing films of the year.

There have been so many great romantic comedies and so many women who have had careers because of them -- think Goldie Hawn and Meg Ryan. So the question is, if women can't get writing, acting and directing parts in a genre that was receptive to women, what happens to those women? And what about the next generation? And what happens to those of us who like to see funny women onscreen? Will this mean less women onscreen? And does this mean Hollywood is not looking for the next Bridesmaids and is only focused on the next bromance?

Nicholson has analyzed the culprits and it includes Hollywood's obsession with teenage boys and superheroes, the men who refuse to see films that are about women or romance, shitty scripts, star money issues, the changing times, and the explosion of the foreign box office. Every single one of these culprits are things that women in Hollywood deal with each and every day.

But let's be real, the death of romantic comedies will affect women even more than men. Men make comedies. Women make romantic comedies. And Hollywood executives keep chasing the next male comedy star and the next stoner comedy. The article cites that even after Bridesmaids, Hollywood didn't give a shit about its success (which we all know is true since there has not been another similar movie released in its wake) and started looking instead for the "female buddy comedies" like The Heat

And look what the executives said to director Paul Feig after Bridesmaids

I've been lectured so many times by producers and people in power, You don't want to get pigeonholed in the whole woman thing, Feig chuckles. Do I want to get pigeonholed in the men thing? I want to get pigeonholed in the people thing!

God forbid someone wants to make movies about women. 

The only good news is that women are getting so sick of the way Hollywood is run they are speaking out in ways they haven't done before. Here's what Amy Nicholson shared with Women and Hollywood:

While I was researching the romantic comedy, actresses like Geena Davis and Olivia Wilde spoke out about Hollywood sexism in ways that weren't possible even five years ago. Take Katherine Heigl: When she questioned how Judd Apatow treated his female characters in Knocked Up, the industry punished her for being loud-mouthed, ungrateful and difficult. I think her bravery is another reason why she was scapegoated for killing the romantic comedy. I was fascinated to find out that was a lie -- Heigl's films made money. But the truth is that women aren't represented onscreen or behind-the-scenes, though statistics prove we buy more than half of movie tickets. That's a lot of power -- it's time to figure out how to wield it.

This article is related to: Nora Ephron, comedy, Katherine Heigl, Bridesmaids, Geena Davis, Olivia Wilde, Women Critics


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