12/06/2012 04:08 pm ET

Hollywood's Year Of Heroine Worship

Ordinarily, the unemployment of a film critic would be the very definition of a dog-bites-man story, but the circumstances that separated Michael Calleri from his job at The Niagara Falls Reporter, a small weekly newspaper in upstate New York, were sufficiently peculiar — and also sufficiently resonant — to go a bit viral, stirring up a minor storm on the Internet and attracting the attention of a network morning-news show. This was a man-bites-man story that also turned out to be a man-freaks-out-about-women story. In a long narrative uploaded in November by Roger Ebert on The Chicago Sun-Times’s Web site, Calleri quoted an e-mail from his boss, Frank Parlato (curiously unnamed in the article), who had recently taken over as editor and publisher of The Reporter. Parlato was not, to put it mildly, a fan of Calleri’s movie reviews, but his real problem was with the movies themselves. “I don’t want to publish reviews of films where women are alpha and men are beta,” he wrote. “Where women are heroes and villains and men are just lesser versions or shadows of females.”

The specific movie that set the editor off was “Snow White and the Huntsman,” a retelling of the Grimm fairy tale starring Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron as the disinherited princess and her vengeful stepmother. The picture’s apparent reversal of gender norms — this Snow White wears armor, wields a sword and leads an army into battle — struck Parlato (who does not seem to have seen it) as emblematic of “a Hollywood agenda of glorifying degenerate power women and promoting as natural the weakling, hyena-like men, cum eunuchs.”

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