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Opinion articles written in the style of their author. These texts are to be based on verified facts and must be respectful towards people, even though their actions may be criticized. All opinion articles written by individuals from outside the staff of EL PAÍS shall feature, along with the author’s name (regardless of their greater or lesser renown), a footer stating their office, academic title, political affiliation (if any) and main occupation, or the occupation related to the topic being assessed

‘Lessons in Chemistry’ and ‘The Marvels’: Yuck! GIRLS!

In the 1950s a woman wasn’t allowed to be a scientist. There are still jobs where a female presence is greeted with suspicion: some as absurd as saving the world in a pair of tights

Brie Larson in 'Lessons in Chemistry.'
Brie Larson in 'Lessons in Chemistry.'

Elizabeth Zott, the protagonist of the novel Lessons in Chemistry, would have a hard time reading measures such as “a pinch” or “enough,” so common in cookbooks. For Zott, who refers to vinegar by its chemical formula, cooking is an exact science. It is also the physical space to which she is relegated by her chemistry colleagues for being a woman. She is a fictional character, but she could be real. History is full of the names of female scientists whose achievements have been rendered invisible. The practice is so common that it has a name: the Matilda effect. There are still jobs where a female presence is greeted with suspicion: some as absurd as saving the world in a pair of tights. Brie Larson, the main ingredient of the exquisite Apple TV adaptation of the book — not to mention Six-Thirty, the unexpected narrator of an episode as original as it is devastating — is well aware of this, a real-life victim of the most cowardly misogyny, one that hides behind anonymity, for her role as Captain Marvel.

Stephen King wondered a few days ago why there was so much fuss about The Marvels’ poor showing at the box office. “Some of the rejection of THE MARVELS may be adolescent fanboy hate. You know, ‘Yuck! GIRLS!’” he wrote on social media. Larson’s new adventure received barrages of scorn even before it was filmed. Ditto She Hulk, Ms. Marvel, 2016′s Ghostbusters, the latest Star Wars installments and any traditionally male genre product featuring female protagonists.

It’s no coincidence that 7 Women is John Ford’s most underrated western and Westward the Women is considered a lesser William Wellman movie. The explanation is simple: Yuck, GIRLS! The Marvels doesn’t deserve such scorn. It’s light, funny, entertaining and — a pleasant surprise — brief. Everything you ask of a superhero movie, at least for the male ones, which has always been enough.

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