Exploring Gender in Romantic Comedies

For our final Digital Humanities project, my group members and I thought it would be interesting to closely examine how gender is represented in popular Hollywood films. We decided to focus specifically on romantic comedies, looking at how gender portrayals differ within this genre from other popular films. We approached the project in two ways; first, we compiled screenplays from thirty romantic comedy films and thirty non-romantic comedy films, and compared the two corpuses using AntConc and Voyant, which are text analysis tools. Then, we also looked at three films individually: Love Actually, 10 Things I Hate About You, and Sleepless in Seattle. It was really exciting to see concrete results when we put the texts into the computer programs. For example, I was able to use AntConc to see if any words in the romantic comedy corpus were unique to that compilation of screenplays. Sure enough, I noticed that the terms her, lady, and girls were all unique to the romantic comedy corpus, supporting our hypothesis that mainstream films have far fewer female characters that are discussed or speak in the screenplay (as seen in the data tables below).

We had a lot of fun with this project and learned a lot in the process! If you would like to see our full analysis, check out our webpage!