An Ode to Greta: The Unintentional Feminist

An Ode to Greta: The Unintentional Feminist

A journalist once asked Greta Gerwig if she was okay with the term ‘muse’ after suggesting she may be that of Noah Baumbachs. Gerwig’s notable response went something like this, “Well, I’m OK with the term muse as long as you acknowledge the muse wrote the script, too.” She went on to say, “I think we’re at a moment where women don’t have a lot of great parts, particularly in films.”

Having been brought up as a Unitarian Universalist in Sacramento, California it seems Gerwig’s childhood has heavily impacted on her adult career. She seems to seek truth and meaning in everything with an unquestioning expectancy of intellectual freedom. Having attended an all girls Catholic school, Gerwig would have learnt from an early age how to be a leader taking pride in female intelligence and capability. During an interview with journalist Emma Brockes, Gerwig compared the anticipation of Frances Ha to that of having children. Just as she compared her film release to procreation she once compared writing to domesticity, “So much of writing is like baking a cake. I can’t tell you where the sugar is.”

French actor Denis Lavant, famous for the physically demanding roles he plays, is a great inspiration for Gerwig. She not only admires Lavant, she is also openly honest  that “with a little more work, he is the kind of actor she actually already is”. This open comparison to a male actor is admirable in itself as is her lack of doubt towards the idea a woman can be just as challenged and able as a man.

Despite what figures suggest, women are certainly becoming more recognized for their work in film and television, with Gerwig as a prominent figure in this progression. Zooey Deschanel is worthy in her achievements and openly speaks out about her feelings towards feminist issues, “I’m just being myself…we can’t be feminine and be feminists and be successful? I want to be a fucking feminist and wear a fucking Peter Pan collar. So fucking what?”

Paul Feig’s The Heat, written by Katie Dippold features two female characters where romance is disregarded for action and comedy. 2012 saw Lena Dunham’s acclaimed television series Girls portray the harsh realities of being twenty-something whilst battling career prospects and relationships. What makes Dunham and her hit series so prevalent is a relentless obligation to strip back the glamour of previous shows such as Sex and the City and Friends, presenting her audience with something a little more candid. Comparisons between Gerwig and Dunham are made due to the fact both are brilliant at portraying their characters with issues sometimes so honest and relatable it could be uncomfortable to watch.

What makes Gerwig stand out from the crowd though, is her disinterest in love and sex when it comes to making movies. Of course Gerwig has featured in films where men and women have sex and fall in love. Her role as Hannah in Hannah Takes the Stairs, a film by Joe Swanberg, sees Gerwig have affairs with not one but two of her neurotic colleagues. In Whit Stillman’s Damsels in Distress Gerwig plays Violet a student who believes women can avoid heartache by dating men of a lower caliber than themselves. She has claimed sex is a subject she is just not interested in right now and feels there is so much more to making a movie about a woman than her relationship with a man. Frances Ha is a great example of this notion with the prominent subject of love approached in an entirely innovative way through a funny yet tragic portrayal of female friendship.

Although Gerwig does reflect on feminist issues she seems unfazed by the whole debate, her aloofness making her undeniably adorable. Her ease at self-expression is obvious on and off screen. A recent performance of hers at the You Tube Music Awards with Arcade Fire demonstrated this perfectly with such a natural disposition lacking in many attractive female actors. This along with her endearingly cloddish reputation acquired through her role as Frances, make her an unlikely leading lady. In our opinion, Gerwig leads in a way no woman has before.

Written by  Sarah Wilkinson


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