From Monroe to Mackenzie Davis, or why hollywood stopped shooting beauties

(ORDO NEWS) — Western cinematographers are rushing out of theaters, rental companies are suffering millions of dollars in losses, and average women are finally breathing freely – they no longer have to reach out and meet the standards of beauty of the empire of dreams.

This is a joke. But there is some truth in it. Any cinephile is able to state the fact: Hollywood beauties are becoming an endangered species, they are being replaced by completely different actresses.

Why this is happening, what social trends were broadcast by Marilyn Monroe, and which ones by Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct.

Not everyone understands this, but such a seemingly non-utilitarian thing as female beauty (and its standards) is closely related to social trends. And cinema, by virtue of its “staged nature”, is one of the most powerful incentives, not only reflecting, but also creating public “brands”.

Psychologists and sociologists call the cinematograph a “cast” of its time: in a conserved form, it preserves ideas about the norms and ideals of a particular era, which are embodied in artistic images. There is also an inverse relationship: cinema influences society by constructing and even imposing new desirable patterns of gender relations.

Fairy tale for adults

This is cinema. That is, in fact, the same thing that we read to children at night. The famous Soviet folklorist of world renown Vladimir Propp wrote about this. Back in 1958, his book Morphology of a Fairy Tale was published, which was not only translated into English, but also became a real manual for Hollywood.

According to it, scripts are being created everywhere today. After all, a feature film, like a fairy tale, has a structure that includes the plot, denouement and the path of the hero, as well as his assistants and antagonists.

It is not surprising that many films become classics, moving into the genre of “folk tales” that teach how to live for entire generations. The latter take the heroes and their actions as a model of behavior. By the way, it is for this reason that actors and pop stars are so often invited to TV shows.

Most people unconsciously perceive them as some kind of role models, like parental figures. Therefore, they are able to form public opinion, and the character of the characters they portray on stage is often broadcast by them in real public life (a vivid example is Marilyn Monroe, who “played” in life approximately the same role of a windy seductress as in the cinema) or at least associated with their true identity.

More drama

Let’s figure out how the standards of female beauty in cinema have generally changed. One of the first movie sex symbols was Theda Bara, an American silent film star of the 1910s, with huge black mascara eyes. She bore the nickname The Vamp (Vampire), which in the slang of those years meant “insidious seducer of men.”

However, whatever one may say, by today’s standards it is difficult to call her a beauty, although the taste and color of the film stars, of course, are different. The actresses of those years were a drama squared: the more hysterical and emotional a woman looked, the better. Hence – languid eyes, wringing of hands, tragic sighs.

From Monroe to Mackenzie Davis or Why Hollywood Stopped Shooting Beauties 1
Theda Bara

Greta Garbo, the star of the 1920s and 1930s, looks a little more familiar to the modern look, although she is still very specific. But this does not change the essence: women in the cinema remained only a source of some kind of eternal and indefatigable emotions, little consistent with logic.

In the heroines, as before, it was not the character that was demonstrated, but the back, shoulders and torso. True, it was in the 1930s that the image of film stars gradually became more liberated and independent.

A “star woman” appears on the screen, striving to achieve success on the big stage – however, only through the prism of love for a man. Muse becomes Marlene Dietrich. Despite the striving for its own success, the objectification of the female sex still does not disappear anywhere.

From Monroe to Mackenzie Davis or Why Hollywood Stopped Shooting Beauties 2
Greta Garbo

Unearthly beauty

It is not known how the image of a woman would have developed further, although, based on the emerging trends, it would have come to modern realities, probably much faster. World War II intervened.

Now a woman is selfless, loving and pure, ready for anything for her man and perceived only through the prism of their relationship.

We really see something absolutely beautiful and pure on the screens. For example, Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa Lund from Casablanca in 1942. Or Vivien Leigh, whose divine beauty wins the hearts of the audience so far.

From Monroe to Mackenzie Davis or Why Hollywood Stopped Shooting Beauties 3
Ingrid Bergman

By any modern standards of beauty, Lee is more beautiful than Marilyn Monroe herself (who is not so much beautiful in terms of “classics” as sexy) and can probably be considered the most beautiful actress of all time.

Her ideality is almost divine, which, as it were, hints at the essence of the female film image in those years. After all, public consciousness, like children’s thinking, perceives the external as internal: if a woman is beautiful on the outside, then her inner world is just as good.

However, Vivien Leigh often got the roles of very emotional and even mentally unstable women (except for the fatal and completely charming bitch Scarlett O’Hara from the film Gone with the Wind, which was filmed before the war and was released in 1939).

From Monroe to Mackenzie Davis or Why Hollywood Stopped Shooting Beauties 4
Vivien Leigh as Scarlett

Windy seductresses

And then there was a sexual revolution: women gained some freedom in relationships with men – both in life and on the screen.

Sexuality has become an object of consumption, although the objectification of film stars seems to have only intensified. And a cult figure in this sense, of course, was Marilyn Monroe, who played in films windy, narrow-minded fools who did not hesitate to exploit their beauty in the name of monetary interests.

From Monroe to Mackenzie Davis or Why Hollywood Stopped Shooting Beauties 5
Marilyn Monroe

A softer “option” in this sense was Audrey Hepburn, whose main character in Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1961, of course, also aspired to a marriage of convenience, but fell in love with herself not only with external data, but also with undying optimism and eccentricity.

At the same time, a certain amount of sincerity, the disclosure of the inner world and even the first hints at the rejection of the stereotypical role of the “kept woman” are already visible in her image.

The beauty of Hepburn is intelligent and more reserved. Closed in the literal sense of the word: long dresses, a hat, a scarf and dark glasses.

And that was a transitional period before a woman had to invade the patriarchal world quite completely – this was facilitated by the growth of feminist tendencies. But the invasion did not begin gradually, but immediately with extreme forms.

From Monroe to Mackenzie Davis or Why Hollywood Stopped Shooting Beauties 6
Audrey Hepburn

Fight with a man

One of the cult films of the early 1990s was “Basic Instinct” with a cold-blooded and passionately sexy broad-shouldered blonde with beautiful, but not as cute as the film stars of the past, features – Sharon Stone.

Her character Catherine Tramell is a real psychopath, in whom there is no empathy at all, she is cruel and indifferent. However, there is enough hysteria in her, so she is incredibly sexy, which in the ordinary sense could be expressed as follows: “a bitch with ambitions” (by the way, most of the actress’s heroines can be called such).

In the image of a dangerous blonde, the pendulum has swung the other way: from Ingrid Bergman with her shy purity and even Marilyn Monroe with her almost innocent encroachments on a man’s wallet – to complete sexual liberation and absolute cruelty.

By the way, with an admixture of necrophilia, which, perhaps, can be called a kind of “revenge” for the former patriarchal violence.

From Monroe to Mackenzie Davis or Why Hollywood Stopped Shooting Beauties 7
Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct

And it’s not for nothing that Catherine Tramell is depicted as bisexual: she, as it were, has not yet “decided” on her orientation. In her character, everything is sharpened to the limit – “female” sexuality and “male” cruelty.

The heroine is a kind of biomaterial, a social baby who has just been born, who is a protest against the stereotypes about a woman of the past. She is not only no less intelligent than a man, but much smarter than him, not only cold-blooded, but more cruel and heartless.

She is completely independent and does only what she wants. She is not married and does not even intend to, cannot tolerate children, while living in a luxurious house and doing what she loves – she is a writer. And for all that, she is not at all an ugly woman – on the contrary, she is pretty and makes all men fall in love with herself.

That is, the objectification of a woman in the film remains, but it takes on very aggressive forms in relation to the male sex itself – remember the phrase from the film: “Everyone who contacts Katherine dies.” First of all, these are her men.

In the early 2000s, the trend of rivalry with the stronger sex remained the same, but the world of cinema woke up a little and decided that a female maniac was already too much. The tomb raider enters the scene – beautiful, cunning and with good physical training.

Angelina Jolie in the image of Lara Croft is the embodiment of the same struggle with patriarchal foundations. She has broad shoulders, high and square cheekbones, a straighter nose than the same Monroe, but at the same time she is not devoid of purely feminine features – huge eyes, large breasts, long hair and, of course, “branded” plump lips.

From Monroe to Mackenzie Davis or Why Hollywood Stopped Shooting Beauties 8
Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft

She once again embodies femininity and masculinity at the same time. She is beautiful, independent, smart and able to fight back not only a man, but even a robot (which can be interpreted as a struggle between a once weak, but now strong woman with a “soulless” masculine principle, to which, judging by the film, she “changes the program” ).

Approximately the same essence is carried by another heroine – Alice – from “Resident Evil”, played by Milla Jovovich.

As you can see, all the actresses are still fatal beauties covered in latex. Despite the loud protest, they are still the object of desire of the male population of the planet, and therefore objectification.

Earthly beauty

The feminist trend has won, but not quite. For this to happen completely, you need to deprive a woman of beauty. Otherwise, her inner world will be of little interest to anyone. This is the picture we are seeing today.

Of course, it cannot be said that the modern heroines of Hollywood films are unsympathetic: they are very nice, but hardly more than your next door neighbor.

They are “ordinary”, they no longer have the stunningness that is so difficult for the average woman to reach. And this is the triumph of feminism, which, as you know, fights for gender equality.

From Monroe to Mackenzie Davis or Why Hollywood Stopped Shooting Beauties 9
Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games

Take Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games. Her heroine Katniss Everdeen is even dressed very modestly – one might say, neutrally – compared to the same Lara Croft.

By the way, in the last part of the saga, released in 2018, we do not see a luxurious Jolie at all, but an actress with much more modest external data – Alicia Vikander, dressed in unisex pants and a T-shirt. The same can be said about Dakota Jones or the pretty, but “earthly” Elle Fanning.

Mackenzie Davis, a Canadian actress whose appearance can be confused with a male one, appears in the last part of the Terminator (“Dark Fate”) (by the way, the action movie was called one of the most disastrous films of 2019).

From now on, the main character is not only brave, but also selfless, ready to risk her life for the common good. Just like the pilot Trudy Chacon from “Avatar” performed by Michelle Rodriguez.

From Monroe to Mackenzie Davis or Why Hollywood Stopped Shooting Beauties 10
Mackenzie Davis in the film “Terminator. Dark fates»

Beautiful woman = inanimate object

But why is it impossible to reveal the character of a woman, while leaving her as a sexualized object? After all, it would seem that there is nothing wrong with seeing a beauty (except, of course, for the rather serious problem of female complexes, anorexia and bulimia, especially among teenage girls).

Because it is contrary to eroticization as such. Scientists also talk about this – for example, from Duke University, Whittier College and Western University (USA) in a paper published in the journal Sexualization, Media, & Society in 2016.

“When a person is sexually objectified, his personality is lost in the eyes of the audience,” the authors write, referring to earlier studies on this issue, the work of scientists from the Universities of Lincoln and South Florida (USA), published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology in 2009 year.

In addition, both sexes perceive eroticized women as less moral and competent. Their pain and suffering are of less concern, since such ladies, in the understanding of people, do not really deserve sympathy.

So, the well-known psychologist from Princeton University (USA) Susan Fisk in the same 2009 published a work in which she showed that when a man sees a sexually objectified woman, his brain perceives her as an inanimate object – a thing that exists only to be used . He does not see in her a person with her own experiences and mind.

Bottom line: beauties in latex are removed from the screens. And, probably, this is a positive trend, if we consider it from the point of view of the objectification of the female image. However, bare thighs and snow-white smiles should be replaced by something else.

The move “replace beauties with ordinary women” is good, but this is not enough for success. Except for the success of The Hunger Games (including among the male audience), which can be called a new trend in the film industry.

Probably, in order to reveal the nature of the characters (when a viewer of any gender will be interested in a person’s personality, and not his covered ass), new approaches are needed, talented female directors and screenwriters who could show the viewer a look at life and its difficulties not only with the “male ”, but also from the “feminine” side.


Contact us: [email protected]

Our Standards, Terms of Use: Standard Terms And Conditions.