Brundle Guy writes:
So today is the Oscars. I won’t be watching, as I haven’t been able to stomach an Oscar telecast in years. But for all the headache-inducing hoopla that goes up around Oscar-time, there’s a trend that’s really started gaining momentum over the last few years that I find particularly obnoxious, and that is the inevitable cavalcade of tut-tutting about how there aren’t enough women directing/being nominated/in high power positions in Hollywood.
It’s not that I necessarily think the pieces are wrong. Certainly, objectively the numbers show that there aren’t a ton of women out there getting nominated for best director or running studios. What I don’t like is that all of these articles are lazy, thoughtless pitches for the writers to be hailed as thoughtful and progressive.
What does it MEAN that women aren’t in these positions? Where does this problem start? IS it even a problem?
There are two assumptions these articles make at their very base that I feel like are largely disingenuous.
Assumption #1: Hollywood is run by men who hate women and don’t want to see them become successful and feel threatened and try to stop them at every turn.
Why it feels like malarkey to me: I’m fairly certain a Hollywood mogul would give a ton of money and backing to post-op transexual with bizarre politics and a firmly anti-business, anti-“The Man” standpoint if they thought it would make them money. You know why I’m fairly certain of this? Because they DID.
Lana Wachowski (along with her brother Andy and Tom Tykwer, granted) got a huge budget and a host of Hollywood names to do Cloud Atlas. You know why? Because she made a trilogy that made a bajillion G-D dollars, that’s why. And they don’t care if you’ve got a penis, a vagina, or anything in between if you can deliver the goods.
Assumption #2: There are hordes of women trying to attain these positions that are getting shut out.
Why I think this is malarkey: I couldn’t find the hard numbers on this, so I’m full of shit as well, but I ask you this: What percentage of USC and UCLA directing program graduates do you think are women? Second question, five years after graduating, what percentage of those graduates still pursuing directing as their primary field do you think are women? I’m honestly curious. I couldn’t find that info on a cursory search, and I’ve certainly never seen it come up in any of these dozens of articles that come out every year.
If there were money on the line and I absolutely had to guess, I would imagine that the numbers on those stats favor WAY stronger towards the male. I would also imagine that if you included things like “desire to direct big budget, high-value IP studio prestige picture” into that mix, you’d get an even stronger male preference.
I have similar doubts about those in the running for being studio heads and executives. I’m sure there are plenty of women out there vying for those positions, but I imagine the margins are probably way stronger in favor of men as far as who is going out for those kinds of jobs. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my current occupation, it’s that the margins ALWAYS win.
Something I wonder: Are there more female directors in other cultures? Somewhere like Sweden, for instance, where we frequently here about how much better they are towards women in the workplace and allowing women to move up and such, is there a higher number of female directors there? What about other countries/cultures? England? Mexico? South Korea? Japan? I honestly don’t know. I’m curious!
Again, none of this is to say that I don’t think there’s an issue. It bums me out that directors I love like Mary Harron and Antonia Bird, or even someone whose style I dig like Catherine Hardwicke, ladies who have some good, commercial instincts, haven’t become bigger, more successful filmmakers. And I think real gender bias might actually have something to do with that. BUT, we’re never going to get to the root of these complex problems by writing stupid, simplistic back-patting diatribes about how Hollywood Hates Hates Hates Women, because I don’t think there’s a ton of merit there, and I certainly don’t think that’s going to invoke any kind of change.
What would MY suggestion be for an answer, you ask me? Oh, well, thank you for asking, how thoughtful. I honestly don’t know, but again, if there were money on the line or a gun to my head, I’d say that I think women are brought up to value things that are explicitly NOT commercial and will NOT lead to big studio contracts. Boys are told to make big, brash movies, they invest in zombies and explosions and gunfights that draw in big audiences. Girls are told to make stories about feelings and emotions with literary merit. You want more women in Hollywood? Feed your girls a steady stream of James Cameron, Brett Ratner and Michael Bay. Tell them to go big or go home. I think people don’t want to do this because they see it as “masculinizing” women, but at the end of the day those are the movies that sell big and get attention. Again, it doesn’t matter about the gender, it matters about the money. Personal expression doesn’t count for beans, what counts is that you can make something that can SELL. I feel like we instill these kind of lessons in our boys, but not to our girls, and it’s that sort of gender bias that is doing a lot of the real, serious harm.
But that’s just me. I’m willing to accept that there’s a fair chance I’m TOTALLY wrong here, that I’m way off-base and right now the bigwigs at Warner Bros or Lionsgate or whoever are screaming into their phones “GET ME A DIRECTOR! ANYONE BUT A BROAD!” and right now there are eight dozen women in Hollywood totally sitting on the next Star Wars or The Matrix or Titanic or Jaws or what have you and they can’t get any traction at all simply because they have boobies, but I just don’t think it’s quite that simple.
And so I wrote this post. What do you think, internet? I greatly await your wisdom.