Several mainstream media outlets have begun to chastise and criticize male audiences simply for their apparent lack of interest in seeing Greta Gerwig’s recent adaptation of Little Women.
The first criticism of the film’s audience make-up came from Vanity Fair, who proudly published an article declaring that “Little Women Has a Little Man Problem.”
Author Anthony Breznican’s concern over the lack of male audience members during the “first public screenings of Little Women” is rooted in the film’s “underwhelming showing in last week’s awards nomination.”
“The first public screenings of Little Women were filled to capacity, but the distributors and awards-season strategists behind Greta Gerwig’s new film were worried nonetheless. The audience was overwhelmingly comprised of women—and the voting memberships of various Hollywood awards ceremonies are obviously not.
That trend may account for why the critically beloved adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel had an underwhelming showing in last week’s awards nominations. The team behind the film hopes to reverse that by the time Oscar nomination voting opens on January 2.”
Producer Amy Pascal believes that “It’s a completely unconscious bias” rather than “anything like a malicious rejection.”
The film has only received two nominations during this awards season. Saoirse Ronan received a best dramatic actress nomination for her lead role as Josephine “Jo” March, while composer Alexandre Desplat was nominated for best original score, both from The Golden Globes. The film received no nominations from the Screen Actors Guild for their awards.
Following Vanity Fair’s article, The New York Times published an opinion piece titled “Men Are Dismissing ‘Little Women.’ What a Surprise” in which author Kristy Eldredge found the fact “that this concern even existed to begin with is disheartening.”
“Yet that this concern even existed to begin with is disheartening. If many men haven’t wanted to give it a chance because they don’t think it’s meant for them, we still have a way to go in considering all kinds of narratives about women to be deserving of thoughtful attention.”
On January 1st, The Washington Post joined the conversation by publishing a perspective piece condescendingly titled “Dear men who afraid to see ‘Little Women’: You can do this” in which columnist Monica Hesse states that she is “convinced that the screenings reflected not merely a man problem, but also a society problem,” and states that men “really, really need this movie.”
“But I am convinced that the screenings reflected not merely a man problem, but also a society problem: Men would see “Little Women” if they were given permission to go see “Little Women.” Men need to be reassured, again and again, that there are all kinds of ways to be a man, and one kind involves watching Amy and Jo tearfully make up after Amy nearly drowns in the ice skating pond.
Could you be a Little Women Man and not even know it? I wish you would find out. Open yourself to the idea that messages of devotion, kindness and caring are not the purview of women alone. See “Little Women.” Expand society’s narrow ideas about what constitutes a fulfilling emotional experience for men, one ticket at a time.
Little Women Men, you need to go. You can do it, guys. You can politely glom onto your wives’ wine club viewings, or you can go alone, or, better yet, you can casually suggest that you and your crew grab a few beers, and then go watch the March family darn some socks in their sitting room.
Judging by the emails in my inbox, you really, really need this movie.”
However, contrary to the popular assertion that men have an inherent issue with the premise of the story or its content, the film has been well received by male audiences, as evidenced by the numerous and overwhelmingly positive reviews given to the film by various male critics.
A more likely scenario, as posited to Vanity Fair by actor Tracy Letts, who portrays Mr. Dashwood in the film, is that audiences may have just “seen too many versions of Little Women.”
Gerwig’s adaptation is the seventh, with the previous films having been released in 1917, 1918, 1933, 1949, 1994, and 2018 respectively. The book also received television adaptations in 1950, 1958, 1970, 1978, and 2017, though the 1950 was only broadcast once as a live transmission and was not recorded.