Most movie stars celebrate their latest home video release by encouraging their fans to check it out, rent it, stream it, buy it, etc. But Michelle Rodriguez is not most movie stars. She took the opportunity this week, on the day that the blockbuster The Fate of the Furious arrived on Digital HD, to say that she will leave the series unless they start treating women better.
“F8 is out digitally today,“ Michelle Rodriguez wrote on Instagram, “I hope they decide to show some love to the women of the franchise on the next one. Or I just might have to say goodbye to a loved franchise. It’s been a good ride & Im grateful for the opportunity the fans & studio have provided over the years… One Love.”
Michelle Rodriguez plays Leticia “Letty” Ortiz in the multi-billion dollar action series. Her character was the love interest in the original film, didn’t appear in the second or third, died at the beginning of the fourth film, and came back in the sixth as an amnesiac whom the male hero and villain fighting about. Over the last three films Letty has taken on a larger role in the series, but she’s still sharing screen time with a very large, mostly male ensemble cast.
In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Michelle Rodriguez described some of the changes she hoped would come to the Fast and Furious franchise, in regards to its treatment of women.
“First and foremost, bringing some more women on the good team, not just bringing an amazing actress to play the bad guy, and having more female camaraderie, having women do things independently outside of what the boys are doing — that is truly the voice of female independence,” Michelle Rodriguez explained, in a lengthy and well-considered critique, in which she takes apart the difficulty male screenwriters to seem have writing for female characters, and the unusual fact that over the course of eight films, she’s barely had any dialogue with her female co-stars.
But in the interview, Michelle Rodriguez was particularly concerned about representation, especially to cultures that don’t treat women as equals.
“Do you know that women like taking apart motors sometime? It happens. My assistant used to do it with her dad. She knows motor parts and I had absolutely no clue, but people just don’t know until they put it out there,“ Michelle Rodriguez told EW.
“I feel there’s a dire need for that,” Rodriguez continued. “That’s what I’m imploring with the studio because these franchise films go to the hardest markets on women. What I mean by hardest markets on women, I’m talking about territories where women, culturally, are treated like trash. I do not feel comfortable not sending an opposing message to that kind of thing. When you are benefiting so much from all this money that’s coming at you, I think you should be sending out some subliminal messaging to balance out that energy between man and woman in these territories, where culturally they’re not evolving out of it.”
Universal Pictures has yet to comment on Michelle Rodriguez’s critique, but they do have plans for two more Fast and Furious movies, and a spin-off featuring Rodriguez’s male co-stars Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham.
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Top Photo: Universal Pictures
William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on The B-Movies Podcast and Canceled Too Soon, and watch him on the weekly YouTube series What the Flick. Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.