“OMG New Moon Has $140 Million Opening!” said a UK magazine. “OMG times one million, you guys,” writes a reporter in The Detroit News. Even the New York Times’ Manohla Dargis described “New Moon” as “the juiceless, near bloodless sequel about a teenage girl and the sparkly vampire she, like, totally loves.”
Anyone noticing a pattern here?
In writing about the box office juggernaut — a film that is smashing records left and right, beating Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings in online advance sales, among other “firsts” — headline writers are using the language of teen girls.
Cute? I don’t think so. There’s something that stinks to me here. Using this kind of language to cover such stunning box office success feels like an attempt to both mock girl culture and detract from the very butch success of this women and girl-driven phenomenon.
I wonder if it makes people uncomfortable that, as the blogger Melissa Silverstein wrote, “A franchise fueled by girls and women has the potential of beating the machines for the box office record. This movie could potentially be ‘guy proof’ meaning they won’t need guys to see it for it to kick some box office butt. Whereas the other franchises NEED women to make their numbers.”
After all, the headlines we’re used to are that women can’t get real parts in Hollywood, and that women don’t support female-centered movies. And as we saw in a recent New York Times profile of Kristen Stewart, the Twilight Saga allows her to pursue a dark, authentic role for a young woman – albeit a disturbing one — opportnities that are clearly in short supply for young women even a few years older, like Megan Fox (profiled by the New York times on the same day in part about her struggle to be taken seriously).
“The question is,” writes Kate Harding at Salon Broadsheet, “will the powers that be recognize young women as a robust market that’s been largely ignored and condescended to, or will they write it off as a limited phenomenon?” If you know me, you know that I love the language of teen girls…so much so that I haven’t quite grown out of it myself. And I write this less as an expression of outrage than an observation. All I’m saying is that I’m pretty sure the words to describe what’s happening this week at box offices around the world aren’t “OMG” and “like, totally.” They’re “millions,” “record-breaking” and “87 percent of advance ticket holders are female.”