Response has been all over the map, but a couple of readers took issue with my reading of some female characters. Specifically, they contend that Mrs. Jankis from Memento and Mal from Inception should not be counted as female characters because, as NerdGirl puts it:
But the film's established that memories are unreliable in dreams, so the remembered Moll (sic) isn't her either. She's a shattered reflection of the women Cobb loved. All that remains are the fond memories to torture him and the projection of his guilt who wants him to suffer – because he feels he deserves it. Which, come on – he does.
To which I respond, fair enough. Both of these female characters were (for the most part) memories and mental constructions in the minds of male characters. Perhaps that deserves a category separate from the Madonnas, Whores*, Antagonists, and Dead Wives that populate Christopher Nolan's films: Imaginary Women.
Unfortunately, I can't understand why the readers feel these could be used as a defense of Nolan. Far from it: these constructed women have absolutely no autonomy or agency. They literally do not exist outside of the minds of men. They aren't even real women! Natalie, the femme fatale from Memento, is IMO a stronger female character than Mal or Mrs. Jankis: she's manipulative and hard-edged, yes, but she is clearly a resourceful, intelligent survivor. And she's a real woman. So that puts her one-up on the other two.
And while we're on the subject of Inception...whoo boy. And people say I'm critical.
(*NerdGirl also took issue with me dismissing a female character in Insomnia as "a whore." I didn't. I said that she represented the "Whore" side of the classic Madonna-Whore complex that permeates so many of our media products, as based on the fact that the character spends about half her screentime coming onto one man or another and is given very little else to do. I just want to be clear on that point; I would never bandy about such a female-negative term in a non-academic sense.)