Gender in 21st Century American Film: Gender Messages and Types of Artistic Success
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This research is a content analysis comparing the gender messages displayed in financially successful and critically acclaimed American films in the years 2008, 2010 and 2012. The analysis focused on three aspects of gender messages: the percentage of female and male characters present as lead characters in each film, gendered social character relationships, and gendered patterns involving sexuality. In financially successful films, only 25% of lead characters were female, compared to 14% in critically acclaimed films. Findings showed that there was a trade-off between realistic depictions of gender and the significance of the character role. Overall, the critically acclaimed films showcased less sexual objectification, and contained less distinctive roles for female characters, while the female characters in the financially successful films featured more prominently in the central plotline, but were portrayed less realistically, and appeared as objects of the male gaze.