Drawing on Nancy Drew to Find Our Voice

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Lackluster reviews notwithstanding, there are several reasons to like the film Nancy Drew. Four to be precise, if you subscribe to the view that the best way for women to find their voice is to listen to those that have found theirs.

1) Women were involved in the making of Nancy Drew, from the studio executives, to the executive producers, to the writers. This is no small feat, given that only “15% of the directors, writers, producers and editors working in Hollywood are women”, according to Sharon Waxman's NY Times article Hollywood's shortage of female power. The storytellers honored by Oscar quiz supports this finding.

© 2007 Warner Bros. Pictures

2. The film features a female protagonist. This too is unusual. According to a study titled Where the Girls Aren't, which analyzed gender roles in 100 G-rated movies, only 25% of the characters in the sample were female, only 28% of the speaking characters were female. I have a hunch that these percentages would trend even lower for PG films.

3. Nancy “achieves the goal” and “gets the guy”, something that many women falsely believe is impossible, even though films are generally replete with male heroes who “achieve the goal” AND “get the girl”. Which is why I came away so sad after seeing The Devil Wears Prada. Anne Hathaway’s character is thrown into the competitive world of fashion, and she prevails, only to have her loved ones tell her she’s sold her soul to the devil.

4) Nancy's an archetype worth emulating; naturally she's “perfect” — archetypes tend to be. Not only did I arrive home happy to have spent 1 1/2 hours with a smart, driven, kind, and caring girl, my 6 year-old Miranda arrived home empowered. The following morning when she learned something had been misplaced, she asked for a flashlight and declared “Miranda to the rescue!”

Have you seen Nancy Drew?

What did you think?

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