“If she can see it, she can be it.”
One of my wonderful lecturers from when I studied film introduced me properly to this brilliant lady. We watched the 1996 thriller The Long Kiss Goodnight during her ‘Women on Screen’ module where Geena Davis portrays a badass assassin/housewife. I knew she was an amazing actress, and a big presence in Hollywood. However, I wasn’t aware of how much she had thrown herself into the cause of female representation and involvement in cinema, and media as a whole.
The Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media is a research-based organisation that works with the media and entertainment industry to educate, engage and influence content creators and audiences. Its purpose is to encourage gender balance, change stereotypes and have scripts depicting strong female characters that target audiences aged 11 or under. It’s such an important cause. In this digital age, children are engaging with the media every day and what they see influences their social and cultural behaviours, as well as how they view themselves and others.
People love to ignore social issues, especially when they’re not affected personally. Geena has identified that the media industry needs remodelling and with the institutes research, she is able to deliver facts that cannot be ignored as to why and how. The institution was founded in 2004 but its amazing to see how even before that, when Geena was stuck in the heart of acting she was conscious of the roles she portrayed.
Lets talk about Thelma and Louise.
If you haven’t seen this film, well then you need to finish this blogpost, pop some popcorn and put it on right away. Geena Davis plays female lead ‘Thelma’ who shoots a rapist and sets off with her fiery friend ‘Louise’ in a ’66 Thunderbird. Knowing that their claims of self-defence would be ignored because they’re women, they decide to leave their patriarchal lives behind and drive off into the new wave. Unsurprisingly, along this trip they encounter further spouts of sexism and misogyny. In result to this, the acts of violence continue so they can protect themselves. Thelma is an American housewife with a shitty husband and Louise is a liberal-fem that witnesses her friend being victimised and encourages her escape from the walls of the private sphere. This film celebrates female friendship and exemplifies how women can be their own heroes.
Another Geena gem, did anybody see Cutthroat Island? It’s one of the biggest flops in the history of films-flops (I think its actually in the Guinness book of records). Starring Geena Davis as a femme fatale pirate, it’s certainly lacking in Oscar magic but it’s watchable. If you’re into pirates or interested in exploring more of Geena’s movies then watch her character ‘Morgan’ set sea with her macho crew to find some Spanish treasure. There lots of rum, explosions and rope-swinging.
I’ve mentioned three Geena Davis films here but there are many other wonders to explore. She plays a huge part in the development of cinema and encourages everyone to create a conversation regarding our gendered media, but she is also an exceptional actress. Basically super woman.