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Women, Sport, and Film - 2004
Student Papers
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The Owner: Provocation through Comedy

Megan Lasher

If I were to write a film concerning women and sports, first of all I think I'd make it a comedy. I think sometimes it is easier to convey serious thoughts through a comedy, because the viewer doesn't feel so tangled up in the emotion of drama, leaving them laughing and in a good frame of mind to consider the points being made by the film after they watch the film. I think this idea is much akin to the idea that it is easier to discuss issues and problems of race and gender through a forum like film because a person can identify with an idea being expressed without having to take responsibility for the authorship of the idea. I think that a comedy is more capable of providing a powerful ending because the viewer isn't expecting it.

Obviously if I were a screenwriter I would want to write a film that was unique and distinguishable from the other films made about women in sport. This might at first seem difficult, given the proliferation of films made on the subject, but they follow a lot of the same trends.

One of these trends is the portrayal of the latent aggression in women that is released through sport. Women are not permitted by society to be aggressive in any area and still maintain their femininity. If I were to write a film I would include this theme and I would try to show that women can be aggressive in many areas. Their aggression can be in something other than sports, for example, business. I think a situation that would show this and also be comical could be perhaps a woman that owns a sports team.

Another issue is the fact that all of the women in the films we watched were made to prove their femininity. I don't think that it is necessary to prove that a female athlete must stand up to an accepted level of femininity. There really is no reason to make a female athlete buy new dress shoes or learn to put on lipstick. I really don't think that it is necessary for any woman to prove their femininity whatsoever, especially not in these superficial, commercial ways. So if I were to write a film, she wouldn't go through that trouble. Her power suit could be pants and she wouldn't have to wear makeup. This is not to say that she'd be overtly masculine, either. I think there are many natural ways to be feminine without makeup and certain clothes. She could be very caring and motherly, or sweet, or any of the other things you can think of that makes a woman a woman other than just what she buys.

So my scenario so far is a woman who owns a male sports team and is just not very feminine. I think it is very tempting to leave it at this and Hollywood-ize it by leaving the woman in power (however this would be somewhat radical) and turning her into a feminine woman as one of her players falls in love with her and they live happily ever after. Another ending to this is that she now spends so much money on her makeup and clothes that she goes broke and has to sell the team. To a man. This would be fairly amusing.

I think however it would be interesting to take this in a different way. I think it would be interesting if she was a lifelong player of this sport and her rich father bought her a professional team. So offended would she be by this action, basically telling her that she'll never be involved in professional sports any other way than this, she intends to ruin it. She then has second thoughts, after her plan is in action of course (it has to be Hollywood-ized somehow), after finding out that the arena that the team plays in is to be torn down if the team moves out of the city. (It would have to be established in the beginning that the arena has a special emotional meaning for her.) The players complain that she doesn't want to treat them like a professional team so they'd rather move out of the city anyway. But in order to save the team, she joins it undercover. There are a number of films about men in disguise joining women's teams, why not a film about a woman joining a man's team, undercover, and succeeding? By making this a comedy, it is already built-in with a level of acceptedness. People generally don't go violentely against what they can laugh at.

So the woman joins the sports team under an assumed name and leads them to victory. This isn't difficult to think about if the woman is not very feminine, so maybe another way to think about it is the same scenario but with a woman that is very feminine in a traditional manner. However I think that would be too comical and never taken seriously, it would be almost a parody of itself.

The last issue that concerns me about the films that we have been watching is that in each one, the woman athlete is not only forced to prove her femininity but also her heterosexuality. I cannot think of a film where a woman athlete is admittedly homosexual. This is, or should be, a new age of acceptance and I think that by portraying women athletes as both hetero- and homosexual it will reflect real life more readily. I don't believe that the point of film is simply to reflect life but I also don't believe that the point of film is simply to provide a story and images that are easily accepted by everyone. All changes are difficult at first and I think that portraying a woman athlete as homosexual is something that should be done. Perhaps it should start with a feature film that concerns the life of a real-life homosexual female athlete.

In response to my last issue, I round out my explanation of my story. The woman-heroine joins the team and saves the day. I would try to make the film skirt the issue of her sexuality until the end when you find out that she's homosexual, but she's endeared herself so much to the viewer that it confounds a viewer that has a prejudice. I think comedy is the best way for this, because if it's a drama the viewer is going to get so caught up in the emotion of the film that they won't think as much about what they get out of the ending. If it's a comedy a viewer never has to think very much and a startling ending like that can be very effective in provoking post-film thoughts.

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