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Women, Sport, and Film - 2004
Student Papers
On Serendip

Bodies in Motion

B. Zera

If, in six years time, I had become a successful Hollywood screenwriter and was commissioned to write a screenplay about women in sports, I would have a hard time deciding what to write about. There are currently so many sports that women participate in that I cannot image what will be available in the future. Out of all the athletic activities in which women participate, I feel that gymnastics has been overlooked by Hollywood; therefore, I would most likely make a film based on that. I happen to be a fan of rhythmic gymnastics, and would like to see it gain more popularity in the United States.

Rhythmic gymnastics is an amazing combination of athleticism and grace. Rhythmic gymnasts use accessories to enhance the aesthetic movement of their bodies. The most common accessories are a small ball (approximately 7" in diameter, weighing slightly less than a pound), a piece of knotted rope (must be proportional to height of the individual), a hoop (about 35" in diameter), a set of clubs (similar to juggling clubs and are about 20" long), or a six meter ribbon.* The gymnasts are expected to perform throws, twists, rolls, jumps and many more ballet-like movements, using their chosen accessory to accentuate their movements. While this elegant sport is embraced across Europe and into Asia, the United States has shown little enthusiasm for rhythmic gymnastics.

In my screenplay, I would choose to follow a rhythmic gymnastics team composed of high school girls. High school girls are the ones who would be competing in championships, and this movie would hopefully cause attendance of said meets to increase. I would write the script so that the movie would not get anything higher than a PG-13 rating. This would ensure that the majority of the population could go see the movie, and could bring their young children to enjoy it as well. Allowing young children to view the movie could increase interest in the sport from a younger age (as most rhythmic gymnasts start when they are very young).

Out of the entire cast of women, I would pick a single protagonist to focus on. For the sake of the movie, she would most likely be the team captain someone who is more experienced and has a better chance of winning in competition. People like to watch movies with successful conclusions, therefore the team that the movie followed needs to be able to win at the end. Therefore, it makes sense that the main character be of the top athletes.

As for the issues that the movie would address, a few of the more prominent ones would be: women as competitive athletes, body image issues, athletic events with group scores (most people view gymnastics as an individual event) and the confusion of the public that sometime so graceful can be counted as a true sport.

The film would follow this small group of girls as they practice more than thirty hours a week to train themselves in a sport which the general public does not acknowledge. It would show their friendship through sports and to each other as they deal with possible animosity from outsiders. The girls would have a rival gymnastics team whom they eventually compete against in the championship. Their competition would have to use underhanded means with which to try and win, or else the viewers will not feel as strongly for our protagonists. The competition will not be totally evil, but just enough to make people dislike them.

After our protagonists' long struggle, our heroines will win the competition, and finally get recognition from their community, who now sees the girls as the athletes that they are. I enjoy happy conclusions and so does most of the theater-going crowd plus, happy finales always sell better. I would be trying to promote this sport through the movie, and would therefore need to paint it in as positive a light as possible, while still creating a drama out of sport for the script.

*The measurements of accessories that I am not familiar with were taken from and converted from metric units.

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