The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has dominated the film scene in the past decade, releasing some of the highest grossing movies of all time.
Series like “Thor”, “The Black Panther”, and “The Avengers” have captivated viewers and raked in billions of dollars for the franchise. “Captain Marvel” represents the most recent addition to the MCU.
One of the first superhero movies to feature a female lead, the film has stood as a beacon of empowerment and representation for women. However, comments made by actress Brie Larson- who stars as Captain Marvel in the film- has sparked conversation on feminism and the role of white males as film critics.
Before “Captain Marvel” was released, Larson made a series of comments regarding the movie “A Wrinkle in Time”. The movie’s cast consisted largely of persons of color and females. When the film received less than stellar reviews from critics, Larson had this to say:
“I don’t want to hear what a white man has to say about ‘A Wrinkle in Time.’ I want to hear what a woman of color, a biracial woman has to say about the film… Am I saying that I hate white dudes? No, I am not. But if you make a movie that is a love letter to women of color, there is a chance that a woman of color does not have access to review and critique your film.”
Larson was citing the University of California’s “Critics Choice” study, which found that of the highest-grossing movies in 2017, less than a quarter of critics were white women, less than 10 percent were underrepresented men, and only 2.5 were women of color.
These figures are important when considering the probability that films geared toward an underrepresented audience will be nominated for awards.
In the same breath as her previously mentioned comments, Larson announced that the Sundance Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival has pledged 20 percent of the press credentials to minority journalists who better represent America. Furthermore, Larson urged other festivals to “make sure that these invites and credentials find their way to more underrepresented journalists and critics, many of whom are freelancers.”
Although Larson’s comments represented an attempt to level the playing field for both female and minority journalists, she fumbled on the execution. Rather than using simply using her platform to uplift underrepresented journalists, Larson chose to seemingly tear down white male critics in the process. Her remarks seemed pointed, even out of context. When context is considered, they come off as excusatory, linking “A Wrinkle in Time’’s failure critical and box office failure to the critics alone.
Larson’s decision to draw attention to the underepresentated populations in entertainment reviews in not only necessary, but commendable. However, her words could have carried more weight had she framed them differently.
Today’s social landscape is volatile. Saying or doing the wrong thing can ruin careers adn lives. In a time when so many are defensive, choosing to attack the role of white male journalists puts them in a defensive stance. Alienating these men, who carry so much weight in deciding which press passes are awarded and who gets published, could work against the very diveristy Larson is attempting to promote.