Male moviegoers are apparently staying away from the latest cinematic remake of Louisa May Alcott’s classic Little Women in droves.
Little Women is a girls’ book, so this should not surprise us. However, for Hollywood’s advanced thinkers, it is the latest sexist outrage.
Melissa Silverstein, who presides over a site called Women and Hollywood, said of this masculine failing, “I think it’s total, fully conscious sexism and shameful. The female story is just as universal as the male story.”
Little Women producer Amy Pascal says that men who don’t go to her movie are guilty of “unconscious bias” against women.
Well, how about a perfectly conscious bias against entertainment products that are geared to women.
Men and women are different and have different tastes in movies, books, and other pursuits. Little Women has always been a girls’ book. What’s wrong with that? As Kay Hymowitz writes in City Journal:
Actually, the reasons that men (and a fair number of women like myself) don’t share in the widespread euphoria over the film couldn’t be more mundane. For one thing, the movie is based on a children’s book—to be precise, a book for girls. Thomas Niles, Alcott’s editor at Roberts Brothers, asked her to write a “girls’ book.” And that’s exactly what she set out to do.
She wasn’t keen on the idea, but she needed the money. “I plod away, though I don’t enjoy this kind of thing,” she complained in her diary in the spring of 1868. “Never liked girls; never knew many besides my sisters.” When Niles reported to Alcott that his niece had found the early pages enthralling, Alcott, who remained unenthusiastic about the project, conceded: “As it is for them, they are the best critics.” No surprise, then, that grown men aren’t crowding theaters to see the latest movie version of a nineteenth-century girls’ book.
Little Women was written, as Hymowitz points out, for commercial reasons. Louisa May Alcott herself chafed, Hymowitz tells us, at the need to satisfy her audiences by getting the March girls (even independent Jo!) married off. I’ve taken a pass on the film because I assume it will be a feminist reinterpretation.
Apparently, this was the correct assumption. The movie portrays Alcott as a struggling woman writer, which was only correct up to a point: she retained the copyright of Little Women and ended up a rich woman because of this. However woke the new take is, Little Women cannot, as Hymowitz observes, escape itself:
But the movie Little Women could not—should not—escape its origins as a girls’ book, any more than Macbeth should escape the genre of tragedy. This brings us to the other understandable reason that many men may be cold to the film. In culture-war terms, to choose to see Little Women is not just to decide on Friday night’s entertainment; it’s to engage in a political act. As the Times op-ed put it, by not wanting to see the movie, men are rejecting “a plea for women to be seen as human beings.”
This is what Alcott might have called “humbug.”
Little Women has been nominated for Best Picture.
You might have missed this because, rather than celebrating this achievement, the media has been loud in its lamentations that no woman was nominated for best director, as if artists should be given the nod because of identity rather how they use their talent. Humbug.