It was recently brought up on Twitter by Kim Masters discussing women and the concept of a franchise. Her point was that no one could really what Jennifer Lawrence has done with The Hunger Games movies. According to Masters:
“Power in Hollywood rests with a few people – Jim Cameron, Cuaron now, Chris Nolan,” says Kim Masters. Hopefully someday they’ll be a woman
— AmericanCinematheque (@SidGrauman) March 17, 2014
Jennifer Lawrence’s stardom modeled after male stars like Matt Damon when they broke out says Kim Masters. She’s probably our biggest star now. — AmericanCinematheque (@SidGrauman) March 17, 2014
“I don’t remember a woman having a franchise like that and doing this smaller pictures at once EVER,” says Kim Masters of Jennifer Lawrence. — AmericanCinematheque (@SidGrauman) March 17, 2014
Jennifer Lawrence’s stardom modeled after malestars like MattDamon when they broke out says KimMasters. She’s probably our biggest star now.
— AmericanCinematheque (@SidGrauman) March 17, 2014
I really appreciate it that Masters is going there in an open forum to discuss this kind of thing. Indeed, power should rest more equally among the sexes and there is no good reason why it doesn’t. Women are as tough, smart and talented as their male counterparts, obviously. What they aren’t is trusted. It’s sort of like Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State vs. John Kerry vis a vis Benghazi. “Move over honey, let ME drive.” Women will start speaking out, letting their balls hang low, and reclaiming their power. I believe this is coming soon but not if women continue to allow themselves to be defined by hideous romantic comedies, “relationship movies” and all of that other marginalized crap. Women can tell stories — not just stories for women. At any rate, back to the subject at hand. I think Masters does a disservice to Kristen Stewart when she lays the success at Jennifer Lawrence’s feet.
Yes, it’s true that it’s been a while since we’ve seen one actress become the Great White Hope as so many male stars do. Jennifer Lawrence has limitless opportunities. She’s talented, pretty, “fuckable” – films are planned around her superstar quality. And yes, she now has a couple of franchises under her belt along with “little” films, like the upcoming Serena and Winter’s Bone, etc. She can swerve seamlessly into these genres because the public accepts her as such; 13 year old boys have no problem watching her in a movie (why would they?) and hoards of young girls have a new god. That’s fantastic, no doubt about it. The power of Jennifer Lawrence is not to be discounted.
I would probably go back to Angelina Jolie, though, with Tomb Raider, to find a precedent for Jennifer Lawrence. No, she isn’t as versatile — she doesn’t have Oscar nominations flying out of her ass before the age of 25. She didn’t have TWO franchises right on top of those nominations. But she had Tomb Raider and she not only slipped into movies like A Mighty Heart but she directed one too later in her career. Now, she’s about to direct what could be an Oscar contender, she’s launching what could turn out to be a franchise with Maleficent, and she’s working hard to save the world at the same time. Jennifer Lawrence can come talk to me when she’s whipped those guns out of her belt.
Again, not to discount JenLaw, but just to say that respect ought to be paid where respect is deserved and how about a little for Angelina? Is it because she, like Kristen Stewart, has been slut shamed into a less admirable spot? Angelina Jolie is still sort of known as the “other woman,” so the tabloids continue to point out. She “stole” Brad from Jennifer Aniston. Does that make Angelina less respectable or less worthy of our praise for shapeshifting in her career as she’s done? Does she always live in the shadow of her men?
Kristen Stewart, along with Robert Pattinson, launched the Twilight franchise, which helped pave the way for Hunger Games, and now, Divergent. Shailene Woodley is another following in the franchise/little movie footsteps of Jolie and Stewart. Stewart’s personal life was always treated by the press as a bigger deal than her box office clout with Twilight, her willingness to dip into the indie world with movies like On the Road, her endless curious and creative spirit as an actress, a very young actress, learning her way in the world. Who knows where she’ll end up. But yes, Stewart, like Jolie, was slut shamed out of the business for being “caught” with a married man. Isn’t it just like society to blame the evil woman for her tempting ways.
I don’t think it serves the cause of helping women to accept only one kind of star (Lawrence) because she has modeled her career after men. I think Jolie, and hopefully Stewart, will define their own limitless reach with the combination of traits they all have: box office clout with a willingness to experiment with good work.
Other actresses who must stuff themselves into franchises must do so in the shadow of the big superheroes who are always male. It’s to Lawrence’s credit that she does not need any male to succeed in any of her films, big or small. She is a massive, charismatic star who has Hollywood in the palm of her hand.
As Masters says – Jennifer Lawrence may be the biggest star right now – right up there with Leonardo DiCaprio. She’s where Julia Roberts was back in the 1980s — though Roberts was held tightly in her romcom cage, Lawrence has been able to branch out. For Lawrence it has all come lightning-fast. Just a few years she’s risen to these heights. We must always heed the words of Jimmy Cliff: The harder they come, the harder they fall. Hopefully Lawrence will take some time to regroup and figure out who she wants to be from here on out before the worm turns on her, which hopefully it never will.
There is much reason to cheer for Lawrence’s brilliant rise. But she should not throw the baby out with the bathwater. As long as women can still be slut-shamed out of their own potential we’ve still got a big problem. While it’s true that a man caught cheating can still derail a career, Hollywood can do without one or two or three or four male stars – there are plenty more where they came from. Overall, sex scandals are pointless distractions and none of our business. But women who succeed the way Jolie and Stewart have deserve special consideration, I think, treatment simply because they are representative of such a small minority in the film business.
Women up and coming who could be where Lawrence is include Rooney Mara for the Dragon Tattoo franchise – if it becomes one, and Shailene Woodley for Divergent. These stories are yet to be told but the outlook looks promising from where I sit.