Blockbuster Films’ Distorted Reality: Where are the Women?
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You may have already seen these disturbing infographics on gender inequality in film, courtesy of the New York Film Academy, racing around the interwebs. But I thought it was too important not to share here, too. Take a look. Get mad. And then do something about it. For example:
- Buy a ticket—on opening weekend—to films that feature female characters and films directed, written and produced by women. Money is one of the strongest arguments you can make in Hollywood; fight with your hard-earned.
- Talk—loudly, longly, on all forms of social media—about inequalities and mis-portrayals of women in blockbuster films. Films should be a conversation; hold up your end with gusto. Don’t be afraid to mention offending filmmakers by their Twitter handles.
- Point out incongruencies—to yourself, to your friends, to the kids in your life—as (or right after) you’re watching. Count the women in crowd scenes: You’ll be shocked at how the imbalances extend even to extras. Question the male-heavy world Hollywood is creating; shine a light on its weirdness.
- Support independent film, where the progress toward gender parity is faster and more publicly discussed. Attend film festivals. Go to your local independent theater. Rent and stream indies. Pony up for a female filmmaker’s Kickstarter (super indie!).
- Go for it. If you’re a woman who wants to work in film, don’t hesitate. Get going! (I’m talking to myself as much as I’m talking to you.) Write that script, buy that camera, get your community together and make something. It’s going to take all of us to reverse these misogynist trends. We need to stop blaming the media and become the media.
Courtesy of: New York Film Academy
Thanks for this, Sarah. I haven’t seen a lot of movies in the past three years, or so, but as I think of it, these stats actually feel conservative. I remember realizing many years ago that while I had seen plenty of full, frontal female nudes in Hollywood movies, I’d never seen a full, frontal male nude. That’s perhaps the most obvious indicator, even though there are tons of other more insidious ones. We still need feminism today as much as we ever did. I was very happy to see a strong, independent, gritty, imperfect and compelling female protagonist in Katniss Everdeen (the book version, especially).
Yes, there’s definitely a great imbalance in male/female nudity, and even more so if you think about how/why nudity is used (male nudity is more often played for humor than female nudity, for example). And, yep, there are much less obvious indicators. I was thinking about this again while watching Grand Budapest Hotel last night. I love Wes Anderson. I think he’s a delightful storyteller, yet most of his films are very, very male-centric. If we lived in a world where there was a balance of female-centric storytellers, I would think nothing of it. But we don’t. And it makes me sad that in the middle of an otherwise enjoyable film, I’m thinking about that gap. Katniss definitely made a big leap across that chasm and is helping to prove what we already know: Audiences like a good story and intriguing characters, regardless of gender. Hopefully the decisions makers will catch on soon. Divergent—another female-lead, YA-based film series—isn’t doing as well at the box office, and I hope the studios realize that’s based on the quality of the story/characters, not on the gender of the protagonist. (Based on the reviews I’ve read, there’s definitely not as strong of a story or hero.)