PEDESTRIAN.TV has partnered with Disney’s Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales whose lead female character, Carina Smyth, is strong, independent and passionate as hell about astronomy – which is nice, different, unusual, but hopefully not for much longer.
Growing up, I don’t remember many female lead characters being exceptionally memorable. Which probably speaks more to the fact that not only were female characters not really strong characters, they were also written into the script to be wallpaper. Throwaway characters with a couple of key lines and mostly there to serve the strong, handsome (probably white) male lead.
One of the first characters I remember being somewhat outspoken and steadfast in her views was Mrs. Winifred Banks from the iconic Mary Poppins (who is a pretty strong character herself, tbh).
Winifred Banks was a woman who was fighting for the early 1900’s wave of feminism, the Suffragette Movement. But even then, Mrs Banks was loyal to her husband, and was not a particularly considered to be a central character.
Following from that I remember an influx of stronger female leads as we saw the turn of the millennium (and stressed out about the Y2K bug – remember that?). Think Kat Stratford from 10 Things I Hate About You, Lara Croft from Tomb Raider, Elle Woods from Legally Blonde, and The Bride from Kill Bill. These are all women who are at least somewhat the central focus, absolute badasses, taking up as much space as they damned well please.
As time as moved forward, women in film have taken over more of the central protagonist spotlight. Girls post-2000 get to look up to characters like The Hunger Games‘ Katniss Everdeen, Princess Merida of Brave and Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Seriously, SO GOOD.
As much as I am super stoked for the bold female characters that younger kids get to look up to, I’m slightly envious that the same kind of consideration wasn’t put into movies I watched at their age.
I know I would have absolutely adored Pirates of the Caribbean‘s Carina Smyth and her love for astronomy (omg not a typecast female career!) had she existed when I was young and impressionable.
Kaya Scodelario‘s portrayal of Carina really shows that no matter where you come from, you will always have so much potential to achieve your dreams.
“She’s a young woman who doesn’t have any family. She’s an orphan, but she’s really tried to carve out a life for herself. She doesn’t let that define her,” Kaya says.
“She wants to study at university. That’s her main goal. She wants to be an astronomer. She wants to study time and space and stars and the universe.”
Films are slowly but surely passing the Bechdel Test more often – where two named female characters are in a scene together, talking about something other than a male character. A hell of a lot of the reason more films are passing this crucial gender representation test is thanks to more women being active in the production of films. If you don’t believe me, this little explainer should prove it.
So here’s to the chicks that are helping to change the way we see women in film. Turns out we’re not just a pretty face.
Oh, and if you’re keen to see a strong female character ASAP, then check out the brilliant Carina Smyth in Disney’s Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales – it hits cinemas May 25.
Photo: Legally Blonde.