The Cinematic Female

9 Apr

Wowza, I’ve been gone for almost a month now! I hadn’t even realized it had been that long..  Well, now that I’m back, I guess I’ll start with saying Merry Easter to all! I celebrated with a hangover and some chocolate – unless Grandma is the one reading this, in which case I only celebrated with the chocolate.  Now that all the Easter talk is out of the way, I’ve planned on a discussion on the importance of women in film.  And let’s be honest, since my ‘discussions’ are one-sided, I suppose the correct term would be rant.  So let the rant begin!

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As a woman in film, I find it incredibly insulting at the lack of women directors represented in Hollywood.  Previously, I may have believed that there were just less women interested in film than men, but you wouldn’t believe how many woman I’ve met in Vancouver alone who are pursing careers in film.  So what’s the problem then? Clearly men in Hollywood are intimidated by women. I mean there’s no lack of interested women, or women attempting to make a name for themselves, so clearly these men realize the threats of women filmmakers.

Look at it this way, would you say more women then men watch romance films or romantic comedies?  Would you say that just as many women watch thrillers and dramas?  There’s nothing that is unappealing about either to a woman.  Would you say that just as many woman watch comedies, horrors and action movies?  Seems unlikely, right? No, studies prove that just as many woman watch these genres as their male counterparts.  In fact, most women I know enjoy action movies – a sweaty, sexy, shirtless man chasing an equally sweaty, sexy and shirtless man, what’s not to love? – proving it’s not a man’s genre any more, no one has to ‘drag’ us to the theater to watch the newest Jason Statham flick.  And the majority of woman love comedies; I just recently read an article stating that men are insulted at the vulgarity and raunchiness of women’s humor today. I mean, now we openly say anatomically correct terms like ‘vagina’ and ‘penis’.  Apparently, men don’t fancy this, they prefer their women to say ‘my lady parts’.  Regardless, what men want, it doesn’t change the fact that women love comedy and more and more women love crude comedy.  So based on these facts, there are just as many if not more women audience members present in the theaters.  And based on what I know about men, women are more likely to retain information and understand what is not laid in front of them.  Wouldn’t that mean that a woman would have a greater understanding of a film, perhaps even take more from it?  So why wouldn’t Hollywood want to encourage the representation of women filmmakers, something that women would greatly appreciate.

Men directors/writers hardly display a correct female representation in films; most times we’re friendless, 2 dimensional characters or we’re bat shit crazy.  How wonderful it would be to appeal to over half of the movie watching population and produce and encourage films that are written and directed by women, with strong lead female characters who are correct representations of confident, smart, sexy, independent women.  This is why men in Hollywood are intimidated, a woman filmmaker who understood her audience and knew how to correctly identify with REAL women (as well as men) would be a threat to the success of male directors.  Women would be thrilled, men wouldn’t even notice the film was woman directed, CHA-CHING!

As mentioned, the problem isn’t the lack of women in film.  The problem is the encouragement of women in film.  Without Hollywood’s support, most of these films go unadvertised and released in very few theaters, meaning they have a lesser chance at being seen.  After much consideration, I believe this is a Hollywood ploy.  With such minimal release, female directed films don’t even have the chance to succeed as strongly at the box office as male directed films thus setting a statistic that causes Hollywood no need to change this situation.  In 2009 Kathryn Bigelow was the first and only female director to win an

History making, Kathryn Bigelow.

Academy Award for Direction. Doesn’t that make you sick?  Even more revolting, to date only four women have even been nominated in the category.  After having a conversation with fellow female filmmakers, Bigelow’s award winning film The Hurt Locker was brought into question; yes, Bigelow is a woman, but her film is male driven with male characters..so that is what it took to win an Academy Award?  Bigelow is also the only woman to win a BAFTA for Direction, and Barbra Streisand is the only woman to win a Golden Globe for Direction. I don’t know about you, but don’t you find that depressing?  It took the Academy that long to honor a female director?  And last year, not a single nomination?  Both Lisa Cholodenko (The Kids Are All Right) and Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone) created brilliant films and generated quite the buzz.  A nomination would have been nice.  Let’s be honest, this year wasn’t the finest for film in general.  There were a few that were breathtaking and then everything else was entertaining at most.  And yet not one female was nominated for Direction?  This is shocking considering the ladies this year created the ripest of the bunch in terms of film.

Based on my calculations, at least 27 women directed films were released in 2011, whether they were wide released or not, there were 27.  Off the top of my head, some incredible talent that comes to mind is Larysa Kondracki (The Whistleblower), Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk About Kevin), Kelly Reichardt (Meek’s Cutoff), Miranda July (The Future), Maryam Keshavarz (Circumstance), Ava Duvernay (I Will Follow),  and Dee Rees (Pariah).  On top of that, a few actresses and even a pop star directed a feature this year.  Jodie Foster (The Beaver), Angelina Jolie (In The Land of Blood and Honey), Vera Farmiga (Higher Ground), and Madonna (WE).  And did anyone else notice that the Academy Award Best Actress winner Meryl Streep’s film The Iron Lady was directed by Phyllida Llyod?…A woman!  ZERO Academy Award nominations.

But you know what? It’s alright Academy, I don’t believe all of these wonderfully talented women are dying without your approval.  That’s the truth, right? These women are strong and successful and most likely have gotten used to the ignorance.  What I’m worried about, or rather who, are the young girls who are intimidated by the male game that Hollywood is.  The girls who are deciding now what they would like to do in the future and seeing a career that means either abuse and ridicule from the men they work for, or fighting tooth and nail for the chance to be recognized for making a film that is better than their male counterparts.  It sounds insane.  Being a struggling artist does not sound attractive and given the economic standpoint we’re at, sometimes passion just isn’t enough.  I wonder how many women come to the conclusion that a filmmaking hobby will suffice for the pain and lengths they will have to go.  Being a woman screenwriter isn’t as difficult in Hollywood, however writing a screenplay that correctly portrays women probably frightens men – we all know nothing scares a man more than a powerful woman ;).

Even actresses have a hard time, try finding a role that doesn’t objectify you; a role where you’re not a 2D character whose lights shut off the second there’s not a scene with the main male character.  A role where you have supportive friends (not just one!) and aren’t left standing on your own when everything comes crashing down – as it will, considering this is a film.  A role where you’re in control of your own life, where you aren’t constantly being heartbroken because you are dependent on the support of a man.  Watching a movie and then realizing how unlikely these roles come around is also intimidating for female actresses.

Hollywood intimidates women, and I believe it’s been proven that’s because men in Hollywood are intimidated by us.  I just can’t seem to find a logical reason why Hollywood wouldn’t want to make more money.  And if anyone has a valid argument for why more supported female features would cause Hollywood to lose money then please step forward and share your case.  I’m all ears.

All of that being said, I’m not a male hating feminist.  I just don’t support sexist cultures in 2012.  Seriously, get with the program! Women don’t have to clean the house, tend the children and cook meals any more.  We can do whatever the hell we please.  And if we want to make films, you better darn right let us!  Everyone knows not to test a woman, she’s always right. So step back and let us have a chance at taking a shot.

— And for Heaven’s sake, stop acting so surprised that women are funny!

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Hope you all had a wonderful Easter!

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2 Responses to “The Cinematic Female”

  1. 1gma April 9, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

    Ooops! Gma read it!! Love the article tho – good argument. You go girl!

    • coffeeandcrosswords April 9, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

      Oops, we both know I don’t drink 🙂 Thanks! I feel this is an issue that needs support.

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