Dear Producers, Directors, Writers and Editors of Battle:LA—
Thank you! For the first time in a very long time, I was able to indulge my guilty pleasure of watching big-budget action flicks without being offended by limited or stereotypical racial representations. Of the 13 featured adult characters in the film, it was refreshing to see seven people of color, albeit led by a typical white, strong-silent-type man. It was wonderful to see friendships across races and even a challenge to hypermasculinity near the end of this “dick flick,” when the lead actor comforts a Latino child and assures him “it’s okay to cry” as both of their cheeks get wet.
And thank you for finally letting Los Angeles take the brunt of alien force instead of the predictable New York or D.C. I must admit, I am now a bit skiddish about driving on I-10 or going to the Santa Monica Pier…
I would also like to thank you for not insulting your audience with the typical damsel-in-distress (DID) or half-clothed fighting fuck-toy (FFT) characters that have become a staple for action movies. It’s too bad, though, that women are virtually invisible in Battle:Los Angeles, with the exception of a bit-part civilian/possible love interest for the lead and a hard-ass technical sergeant (Michelle Rodriguez, in what should be shorthanded as The Michelle Rodriguez Role because she’s now played it in so many films) who is constantly reminded that she is female in the middle of frenzied fight scenes.
I am sure that, given the thoughtful way you present a racially complex world, you didn’t mean to make me or other women feel erased. But I can’t say I’m surprised since women comprise only 16% of the directors, writers, producers, cinematographers, or editors of top grossing films, and you didn’t hire A SINGLE WOMAN for any of these positions. Male and female filmmakers have similar gross receipts when their budgets are similar, so money doesn’t explain the absence of women on your creative team.
I wonder if you were afraid that you would lose some young, male audience members if you included more female characters. Such an assumption underestimates men’s capacity to accept women on the big screen who are just as complicated and varied as the women they encounter in their daily lives. And films with female protagonists or prominent female characters in ensemble casts garner similar box office numbers as movies featuring men when budget size is held constant, so this shouldn’t explain women’s virtual absence in your fictional world.
And I’m sure that if you understood that your choices shape how little girls and boys imagine their possibilities in the world, you would have written a script with lots of active female characters. When women comprise only 29.9% of the speaking roles in films, and far fewer play protagonists, girls learn early on that our lives, activities, and stories are simply less valuable. From movies like Battle: Los Angeles, we learn that entire worlds exist around and for men, and that this is okay.
Just think: Since revenue is your goal, you might have been able to generate even more profit from women who share my guilty pleasure but just can’t stand the nasty, sexist baggage that so often comes along with blockbuster action flicks.