By Carter Glace
It’s difficult to think of a genre that reduces female characters to objects more often than the “Buddy Film.” It’s a rare genre where even being reduced to a love interest isn’t a given, as that would detract from the males and their bonding. The late ‘60s and ‘70s saw the Buddy Film turn into a venting ground for macho-masculinity, seeking to create an environment where men were men, shutting out the chains of feminism and the government, boiling life down to the visceral, emotional relationship between two hyper-competent men.
That mood drove the action/cop buddy films in the following decades. The championing of unstoppable males whose collective skill can defeat anyone, where the woman is just the prize, the corpse that motivates the heroes. Did both these eras produce classics? I must begrudgingly admit yes, but only because they overcame their uncomfortable undertones.
In the modern Buddy Film, the female character has “evolved” from token love–interest to disapproving mom, forcing our “heroes” to grow up and being a general fun buster. Yes, they (mostly) acknowledge that she is completely in the right and that the two need to get over their childish bro lifestyle, but it’s subliminally telling us we shouldn’t like her, because if she wins, the movie is over.
The last decade or so has seen the rare female buddy films become big hits, leading critics to assume we would have a landslide of female-driven films — but as of 2014, that has yet to happen. 2014 has seen a meager two major female led buddy films: “The Single Moms Club” and “The Other Woman.” It’s hard to celebrate “Single Moms Club” because Tyler Perry has proven time and time again that he has a massive built-in fan base, so it’s not as much Hollywood broadening its horizons as much as it is profiting from the idolatry of Perry. And that leaves us with “The Other Woman,” a film about three women obsessing over a cheating man. Yes, even a female buddy film needs to have a man driving the plot.
Hollywood is only now begrudgingly realizing that films led by woman can sell, yet they still drag their feet by allowing Buddy Films to be a male dominated genre. These things can have massive cultural ramifications, and Buddy Films continue to present woman as objects, corpses or spoil sports. Buddy Films should be at the top of Hollywood’s to-do list when it comes to reform.
Carter Glace is a contributing writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.