Category: Movies

Women in a Sea of Men: The Representation of Women in The Curse of the Black Pearl

Recently, my boyfriend and I decided to revisit a childhood classic: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, the film that jump-started what would prove to be an extremely lucrative and much beloved franchise for Disney. I first watched it not long after its 2003 release, making me 8 or 9 at the time, and enjoyed it, like most other children at the time. It brims with swashbuckling adventure and humor while maintaining Disney’s family-friendly directive. Unfortunately, with my older, more world-weary eyes saw through the dust of nostalgia, dismayed as the film makes no effort to pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test, which stands as an absolute bare minimum requirement for a creative endeavor’s portrayal of women.

Star Wars Has a Problem with Women and We’re Going to Fix It Together

Let’s start by making something perfectly clear: I love Star Wars. I live and breathe Star Wars. They’re some of my favorite movies, games, and comics; I’ve read more than my fair share of Star Wars fanfiction and have, over the years, spent a ludicrous amount of money on merchandise and other paraphernalia.

When someone, tasked with buying me a gift, asks for ideas, I give them one instruction: if it has Star Wars on it, I’ll like it.

But even if you’re not as Star Wars obsessed as me (it’s hard, I know) — even if you’ve never seen the films — it’s inescapable, as one of the most popular and beloved film franchises of all time. Even Star Wars Luddites possess an awareness of the major characters, concepts, and plots; Star Wars is a cornerstone of our modern, media-obsessed culture. Yet despite this popularity and its trailblazing approaches to special effects and filming, the Star Wars franchise offers a mixed bag when it comes to the representation of female characters’ visibility and autonomy.