Girls and Horses

I walked through the break room/dining area at work yesterday and noted a section of the paper had been left wide open, as if someone in the building had seen something of note and wanted others to see it too. I don’t think that was actually the case – it was the movie review section, of all things. I, however, did read something that caught my attention in a good way: A review for the movie Flicka.

I wasn’t lured by the movie in question or awed by the review itself , but some of the statements made within it really gave me a warm fuzzy. They’re recurring themes here, so it’s nice to see it said in a place not specifically designed with a feminist POV.  From the review:

Back in the late ’80s, some evil statistician persuaded the powers of Hollywood that men in general and young boys in particular were the median audience for its movies; and that women — particularly teenage and younger girls — were a powerless demographic.

Ever since then, even though this false wisdom has been disproved time and again, virtually every movie seems to be aimed at the young male audience. And even those few films that do have young-girl protagonists seem to be half aimed at the boys.

Word, Mr. Arnold. Word. You may have just convinced me to see this movie on principle alone.


  1. scarlett says

    I wasn’t fussed with that line about the movie being “structured to evoke that special love which young girls seem to universally feel for the equine species”, it sounds so stereotyped, that whole ‘all girls love horses’ thing. The way I read it, yes, it was a movie aimed towards girls, but it was one of those generic ‘girl loves horse’ movies.

  2. Jennifer Kesler says

    Sure, but I think the point is that this reviewer is acknowledging that it’s a myth that only young men are worth making movies for. The movie may be awful, but at least the reviewer gets this point, and gives voice to it.

  3. MaggieCat says

    it sounds so stereotyped, that whole ‘all girls love horses’ thing. The way I read it, yes, it was a movie aimed towards girls, but it was one of those generic ‘girl loves horse’ movies.

    I haven’t seen the movie, and probably won’t unless it hits cable when there’s nothing else on, so I can’t say how generic this specific movie is. But are all movies that have a girl and a horse in them automatically stereotypical? Or can it be a specific audience that is being catered to? It’s the reviewer who says that all girls love horses, I doubt the movie makes such a claim. (In fact this is gender flipped- the original book and film are about a boy and his horse.)

    I know there are a lot of these movies and books out there, and there certainly are a lot that are just reusing the idea with little originality, but there are a lot of little girls that love horses. I took riding lessons for years starting at about age 10 (so I’m probably a little bit biased) and the students at the stable I went to were overwhelmingly female. Both of the instructors I had were female, and they were almost opposites personality-wise so it’s apparently a concept that appeals to very different types of girls.

    I’m not sure that people would say that any movie aimed at boys that features baseball or football is automatically a generic stereotype. Of course since most movies are aimed at male audiences there’s a much wider variety of subjects addressed in them, which is closer to the heart of the matter. The problem isn’t that ‘girl and horse’ is necessarily stereotypical, it’s the lack of films about any of the millions of other things that could be used in a movie aimed at young girls. It’s not groundbreaking subject material but it’s a tiny step towards realizing that not everything has to appeal to the male audience.

  4. Jennifer Kesler says

    Another point to consider: for every National Velvet (girl horse story) there are at least two Black Stallions or Flickas (boy horse story).

    So given the industry’s tendency to cater to every stereotype, why did they still aim horse movies at little boys instead of little girls? Because somebody once did a since-disproven study saying that males must be the median market for movies, never females – even when it doesn’t make sense.

  5. sbg says

    I didn’t agree with the whole review, but thought it good to point out that at least someone else out there realizes that girls/women are a demographic to target.

  6. scarlett says

    I’m not arguing with that… I should have made myself clearer to begin with that those ‘girls and their horses’ storylines get my back up for some reason, it’s a personal thing 😉

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