„The Celluloid Ceiling“ Report says that when a film is written and directed by men, women hold a leading role only 4% of the time. But if just one woman works on the screenplay or behind the camera, that figure increases tenfold.“
Last week I went to the news stand. I wanted to read something in English so I chose the Time Magazine. What’s funny that same day, actually the days before that, I started to get into the whole „Women in Film“ thing. So I was pleasantly surprised when I found an article about exactly that topic. „Women Flip the Script“ [TIME Vol. 186, No. 19 | 2015; November 9, 2015 p. 38] was actually such a good article that I wanted to talk about it in today’s post.
When I look at the current films in my favourite English movie theatre in Vienna I have to admit there is one overload: testosterone. „Black Mass“, „The Martian“, „Macbeth“, „Spectre“ and „Steve Jobs“ are shown. All male leads. I won’t be asking Hollywood to now make Bond a female or Steve Jobs or Macbeth. But I have to admit, that once you open your eyes to this it is pretty shocking.
Please, before you go all manic on me just listen. I don’t consider myself a feminist, even though I should. To me the word has a strange undertone, like it has gotten over the last couple of years. Hearing the word makes me cringe a little because I associate it with suppressing men, and that’s not what I want. I also don’t need a perfect 50/50 balance for male and female leads, or even a take over by women…but when you read things like „Among last year’s 100 top-grossing films, [were] 12 feature female protagonists…“ [TIME Nov.9|2015 p. 40] it hurts.
When I ask myself why, I only come up with excuses that shouldn’t be relevant anymore. Yes, Hollywood was built up by mostly men. Yes, back then men were the people who provided for their families, at least it was considered the right thing. And yes, that also means men had jobs like being a writer, a director or a producer. Yes, all fair. But that was when? At the beginning of the 20s!? Well, welcome we live nearly 100 years later, how is it still a thing to name films with female leads niche? Like Cate Blanchett said so well in her 2014 Academy Award Acceptance Speech: „Audiences wanna see them [films with female leads] and in fact they earn money.“ (See her speech HERE.)
Maybe we are now at the point where the change can finally begin. A year ago (Nov. 24th 2014) Sony Picture Entertainment was hacked. Scripts (like the „Spectre“ script – yep, that’s how the circle is closing back to James Bond, I now feel haunted.) and especially emails where obtained, made public and brought sensitive information to light. While many were appalled by the comments made about Angelina Jolie, one email correspondence was of even more interest to the public: the one about Jennifer Lawrence’s salary. Now, while money is a sensitive topic to some, in this case it was good it came out. Jennifer Lawrence bad-ass, sky rocket to the top actress of the hearts was paid 2% less than her male co-stars, even though she is the one with the Oscar. I don’t want to go all into how crazy I find this, but just mention it because maybe this is the snowball that is going to make this issue an avalanche. And like Sandra Bullock says in the Time Article, of course it is weird to complain at such a level, but why shouldn’t she!? Women don’t prepare less for a role, a film, they don’t do less hours on set or anything. And if she gets her scenes down quicker than her male co-stars then she should be applauded and the actor been asked if acting was really the right choice for him. It just shouldn’t even be an issue.
Well, now you might think, well I didn’t really do much about the whole „Women in Film“ situation and you are right. All this blog has at the moment is James Bond reviews and many times I wasn’t even that nice about the Bondgirls. Shame on me. I wanna change that. „Women in Film“ matters to me. I want to see strong women and I want to see great actresses do great work. I wanna support this cause and while I cannot do this in the way that I open up a production company and only sign women for all the positions, I do it in my small little way of featuring female films. Like I said up above it won’t be possible to always have the perfect balance, but I want to try and watch more films with and by women because their stories should be told too. No, they have to be told.
Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Meryl Streep, Sienna Miller, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, Ronney Mara, Kate Mara, Kate Winslet, Keira Knightley, Judy Dench, Naomi Harris, Viola Davis, Liza Weil, Juliette Binoche, Kerry Washington, Lea Seydoux, Emily Blunt, Sophia Buch, Ellen Page, Ellen Pompeo, Sandra Oh, Kate Beckinsale, Claire Danes, Anna Paquin, Maggie Smith, Amy Adams, Angelina Jolie…are only a view of those talented actresses. There are directors, screenwriters, production designers, stunt women, set designers, grips, cinematographers, light technicians, sound women, editors, musicians. All of them deserve as much praise and as much a chance as all their male colleges.
Maybe this is also the way out of the whole repetition we now see in so many films. Maybe it is time for a couple of new eyes on the stirring wheel. So, let’s make art together and don’t think about gender. Women are great too, dear men. You know it, you marry us ;)
Thanks for Reading.