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MaryAnn Johanson has a great piece in her series on the website of the Association of Women Film Journalists in response to the Hollywood conventional wisdom that movies need to be directed at boys and men to make money. Noting that the advance sales for “New Moon” are ahead of “Transformers” at this stage, she says:

If the boys can be targeted by Hollywood with movies that pander to their basest instincts — toys! explosions! Megan Fox! — then I suppose we must see it as a sign of progress that girl audiences are getting the same treatment: sighing! moon eyes! Robert Pattinson!

And speaking of Megan Fox, Johanson skewers Lynn Hirschberg’s profile in the New York Times Magazine.

Later, noting that the TV in the hotel room was on and tuned to some girly reality show about wedding dresses or somesuch, and that Fox said she watches these things because she doesn’t understand them and is trying to figure them out, Hirschberg characterizes Fox thusly:

Fox said this as if she were contemplating an alien species.

Because, you see, reality shows about wedding dresses represent the actual actuality of all women, and a woman who doesn’t comprehend why anyone would collapse into fits of tears over a wedding dress must be an alien. Because no real women would need to study such a reality show, as Fox indicates she does — a real woman would just understand.

I like to read Johanson’s summary of the way women are portrayed in current releases. Here’s what she had to say last week:

OPENING THIS WEEK. Women are there to be rescued in 2012, whether it’s the Mona Lisa or Amanda Peet as John Cusack’s ex-wife, who does literally nothing but scream for two and a half hours while the world ends around her. Good riddance to this world. Women — or females, at least — are all but absent from Fantastic Mr. Fox, except Meryl Streep as the alternately scolding and praising wife to the titular character; the male animals are the ones who get to have all the adventure and all the fun, and they’re the ones who get to learn things about themselves and grow as people. And forget Pirate Radio: the boat HQ of the illegal broadcaster is boys only — well, there’s one girl present, to cook, but she’s a lesbian, so she doesn’t really count.

On the indie side, things aren’t much better. Women in Trouble does feature an ensemble cast of terrific actresses, but it’s all in service of writer-director Sebastian Gutierrez’s fantasies about what women are really like (hint: it frequently involved lingerie). The Messenger, a drama about the soldiers who notify families that their loved one has been killed overseas, does at least feature Samantha Morton in a powerful and unexpected role as a new widow.

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This is exciting! The fantasy/adventure/comedy “Shorts” is about to be released on DVD and thanks to the wonderful folks at Warner Brothers I have FIVE copies to give away to my beloved readers.

In my review for Beliefnet and the Chicago Sun-Times, I said,

A rainbow-colored wishing rock creates comic chaos in a film from Robert Rodriguez about bullies, family communication and being very, very careful what you wish for. It is also about an army of crocodiles, a telepathic super-genius baby, and a pig-tailed villain named after a font.

It is imaginative, fresh, funny, and a ton of fun for families. If you want to be one of the five lucky winners, send me an email at moviemom@moviemom.com with “Shorts” in the subject line and tell me the silliest wish in the trailer.

In my concern for the continuing coarsening of language, I last wrote about whether the term “pimp” had become acceptable for children after it was used in the PG film “G-Force.”
The New York Times writes about another word that has crossed into the mainstream and has become a go-to insult on television and in movies.

On many nights this fall, it has been possible to tune in to broadcast network television during prime time and hear a character call someone else a “douche.”

In just the last several weeks, it has happened on CBS’s “The New Adventures of Old Christine” and the CW’s “The Vampire Diaries,” which are broadcast at 8 p.m., during what used to be known as the family hour. It has been heard this fall on Fox’s new series “The Cleveland Show,” which begins at 8:30, and on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy.” On NBC, its use has spanned the old and the new, blurted out on the freshman comedy “Community” and the seasoned drama “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”

In total, the word has surfaced at least 76 times already this year on 26 prime-time network series, according to research by the Parents Television Council, which compiled the statistics at the request of The New York Times. That is up from 30 uses on 15 shows in all of 2007 and just six instances on four programs in 2005….And while the word “douche” is neither obscene nor profane — although this usage is certainly offensive to many people — it seems to represent the latest of broadcast television’s continuing efforts to expand the boundaries of taste, in part to stem the tide of defections by its audience to largely unregulated cable television….”As a writer, you’re always reaching for a more potent way to call somebody a jerk,” Dan Harmon, the creator of “Community,” said about the word “douche.” “This is a word that has evolved in the last couple of years — a thing that sounds like a thing you can’t say.”

Unquestionably, the language on television has become more vulgar. And the argument that this is acceptable because it can be limited to a particular time slot has become less supportable. When television programs like “Law and Order” and “CSI” (and their variations and spin-offs) seem to be on 24/7 and raunchy sit-coms like “Two and a Half Men” run in syndication in the early evening. I find this word particularly ugly and misogynistic and am sorry to see it become mainstream.