5 sexist clichés that Annihilation avoids

2018-03-16 09:07

Los Angeles - Alex Garland's sci-fi blockbuster Annihilation, available on Netflix, is a rare example of a sci-fi movie led by women that avoids some of cinema's worst clichés.

Based on the book by Jeff VanderMeer the first in the The Southern Reach Trilogy.

It centres on Lena (Natalie Portman) a biologist who joins an anthropologist (Gina Rodriguez), a psychologist (Jennifer Jason Leigh), and a surveyor (Tessa Thompson) on an expedition into a disaster zone.

Here is a list of gender-related tropes in film that often have critics gnashing their teeth.


The Smurfette principle, coined by American poet and essayist Katha Pollitt in 1991, is the practice of including only one woman in an otherwise entirely male cast. These movies are typically driven by a male-dominated narrative, with the woman existing only in relation to how she affects the men.

Examples: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Justice League and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.


The Bechdel test asks whether a movie features at least two named female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man.

Various surveys have shown that only around half of all movies pass the test, named after the American cartoonist Alison Bechdel, who credited the idea in part to the writings of Virginia Woolf.

Examples: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Avatar, the entire Lord of the Rings and original Star Wars trilogies.


The Damsel in Distress is one of the most widely used cliches in cinema. This trope is a plot device placing a female character in peril from which she must be rescued by a male character.

She often provides the core motivation for the male protagonist's quest or journey.

Examples: Pirates of the CaribbeanTakenSpider-Man and the Twilight saga.


It doesn't matter how schlubby, lazy and unkempt the man is - he always ends up with the woman with supermodel looks.

Whether it's Fred Flintstone, Quasimodo or King Kong, these guys can skip brushing their teeth, spend all day drinking beer in front of the TV and crack silly dad jokes and they'll still get their girl.

Examples: Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Anniston in The Break-Up, Jason Segel and Kristen Bell/Mila Kunis Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Kevin James and Rosario Dawson in The Zookeeper and Jack Black in everything.


This trope, identified by the Feminist Frequency pop culture website, is an over-the-top caricature of a feminist designed to undermine the very idea of feminism.

Examples: Mona Lisa Smile, Legally Blonde and Down with Love.

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