“The Hollars” (2016): Men, Missed Opportunities, and Representations in the Movies

Representations matter. 

The Hollars (2016) is one of far too many movies that fails the Bechdel Test.

Moreover, it’s one of countless movies that has far more roles for men than for women.

The Hollars opens with the mother passing out. She has a brain tumor and ultimately dies. This is a White family. Throughout the course of the movie we see how her children (two adult men) and her husband deal with the tragedy. Her nurse and doctor are both men. The pastor is a man, too. The movie ends with one of the sons getting married (to a White woman). 

Popular society views Hollywood as this “hyper liberal/progressive” institution when in reality its representations perpetuate minority oppression, patriarchy, and in some way or another, Whiteness.

This film could have been identical (except perhaps for clothing and naming, given social constructs) except with some of the male characters changed to female characters, with female performers in the roles.

Representations matter.

And because they matter, we need roles for women (especially older women) where they do not die or get sick and where they are actually on screen in significant ways. We need stories that are relevant to the world society forces women to live in and the world women actively create in their protests. We need stories where women talk to each other on film. 

Dr. Andrew Joseph Pegoda

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Categories: Thoughts and Perspectives

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3 replies

  1. I remember that representation figured in a movie many years ago when the director considered 2 white men, but when someone pointed out that the script never calls for 2 white men (I think they were cops), the director did get an African American man to portraya the lead’s partner. Both were prominent and well-known award-winning actors. I wish I could remember the movie and the actors’ names, but it was just too long ago, I never saw the movie because it involved cops, guns and violence of about equal value. I have seen many movies where neither color nor gender really mattered to the storyline but had white males in leading roles. I have also seen movies where actors of different gender/color than those chosen would have brought irony, or a very different meaning to the story, making the story more intriguing, rather than less so. Reflexes in Hollywood are extremely difficult to re-train, it seems.

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