The picture’s apparent reversal of gender norms — this Snow White wears armor, wields a sword and leads an army into battle — struck Parlato (who does not seem to have seen it) as emblematic of “a Hollywood agenda of glorifying degenerate power women and promoting as natural the weakling, hyena-like men, cum eunuchs.”
Neither the NYT scribe nor the nobody in Buffalo seem to notice that the main audience for Butt-Kicking Babe movies are nerdier guys who wish women would be interested in the kind of stuff they are interested in: weapons, fighting, quests, and so forth.
A Hollywood agenda of glorifying powerful women — now that is news. Granting that Parlato’s rant seemed to emanate from the same zone of the culture-war id that undid a few Republican Senate candidacies this year, you might still be inclined to wonder if, in sensing a shift in the portrayal of women, he was onto something — or for that matter to hope that he might have been.
In reality, Snow White and the Huntsman was least interesting for its Butt-Kicking Babe aspect — pothead Kristen Stewart's under-energized Snow White has been dropped from any sequel, with Chris Hemsworth's Huntsman more likely to carry. And it was most interesting for Charlize Theron's Wicked Witch, because evil women characters, such as that Golden Age of Hollywood mainstay, the femme fatale, have largely disappeared due to a combination of feminism and movies being aimed at younger, more innocent males who are more idealistic about girls.
After all, the contrary complaint — that Hollywood is a swamp of testosterone, turning out entertainment that marginalizes or condescends to women when it does not ignore them entirely — has been around much longer, and has, to say the least, a much stronger grounding in reality. Have things really changed that much?
Movies are more masculine than advertising-funded media because they are largely paid for by ticket-buyers, and, on average, males pay for movie tickets more than females. There are plenty of roles for actresses of a certain age solving murder mysteries on TV, because advertisers love the women's market, because women spend more than men, because men turn more of their income over to women than vice-versa.
There is a smattering of evidence to support the impression that they have, because 2012 was, all in all, a pretty good year for movies and also a pretty good year for female heroism. In addition to “Snow White and the Huntsman,” there was “Brave,” whose flame-haired heroine, Merida, combined Disney-princess pluck with Pixar’s visual ingenuity; “The Hunger Games,” which drew on young-adult literature to find, in the resourceful person of Katniss Everdeen (played by Jennifer Lawrence), a new archetype of survivalist girl power; ...And we should not forget the culmination of the “Twilight” saga, speaking of Kristen Stewart, whose Bella Swan, grown from a sulky, indecisive teenager into a fiercely protective vampire mother, fought alongside her in-laws against the supernatural forces of evil. Forget about Team Jacob and Team Edward: it was Team Renesmee that triumphed in the end.
Of course it would be silly to proclaim, on the basis of a handful of movies, that some kind of grand role reversal has taken place, that cultural power has shifted toward women, or even that 2012 is yet another “year of the woman,” a wishful phrase that surfaces periodically in movies as it does in politics.