, , , ,

It’s the same reason I dislike biopics in general: it’s the story of the Great Man… and His Girl. Here is the Great Man doing great things… and His Girl loyally supporting him. Here is the Great Man being difficult because his genius is just so challenging to those around him… and His Girl still supporting him through The Power Of Love.

Here is the Great Man that we all know well, whose exploits have changed the world… and here is His Girl whose name presently escapes us.

It’s always the same formula. Walk The Line. Social Network. The Doors. Pollock. Ray. Charlie Wilson’s War. These movies teach the false lesson that women should settle for being His Girl to the Great Man. The nominal lead actress of each of these serves just as a window into the troubled soul of the Great Man played by the lead actor. She exists to reflect and react to the main plotline, which would be the plotline of the male’s life. When he suffers, she is there to care. When he stumbles, she is there to help point him back on the path. When he is being abusive, she is there to react with suffering. She suffers not because we care about her suffering, but because her pain is a reflection of his tortured inner soul, which is what we are supposed to really care about.

Call it Gwen Stacy Syndrome: His Girl is really just an extension of the Great Man’s, well, greatness, existing to be rescued from his enemies (literal or figurative), to suffer when he suffers and to rejoice when he triumphs. And when she has outlived her usefulness, her services can be dispensed with.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be like this. Marie Curie certainly wasn’t content with playing second fiddle. And heaven help us, neither was Hillary. Nor were Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Benazir Bhutto, Yoko Ono or for that matter, Zelda Fitzgerald. All were with Great Men and yet none were content with the secondary, supporting, Laura Bush role assigned to them by their societies (and reinforced by your average biopic). And so they all made their own marks on the world, for good or for ill. Even if they are usually ignored by filmmakers.

Usually, but not always.