Tuesday 16 June 2015

TV, Film & Gender

A study examining gender portrayals in general audience films (101 of the top-grossing G-rated movies between 1990 and 2005) came to the conclusion that there was a clear gender imbalance. 28% of the speaking characters and 17% of characters in crowd scenes were female, 83% of the films‘ narrators were male. Apart from gender, ethnicity was a construct affected by a clear imbalance in representation. 85.5% of the characters in G-rated films (i.e. general audiences, all ages permitted) were "white". Differences did not only refer to the quantity, there were also qualitative differences. Females were valued for their appearance, had rather short sighted aspirations and were longing for one-dimensional love. The authors conclude that much work is needed to be done to improve gender portrayals (Smith & Cook, 2008).

"Female audiences are driving the change, I think. Women don't stop consuming cultural product once they stop menstruating."
Cate Blanchet 

"When Lisa Genova wrote this book, she told me that no one wanted to make it into a movie because no one wanted to see a movie about a middle-aged woman."
Julianne Moore at the 2015 Golden Globes Award

"In spite of efforts to achieve greater gender balance within the industry, especially in these busier times, the reality seems to be that it's getting worse not better. These statistics must propel industry and inform government policy to increase the pursuit of proper diversity in the workforce."
Iain Smith

"On so many sets women are seen as lesser beings in terms of status and many women still find it hard to be taken seriously. I just can't bear it. There are still a lot of hostile working environments in film and television for women to walk into that need to be addressed, where they are treated differently from the men, but because of the nature of the industry none of these people get called out."
Beryl Richards

"I've noticed a lot of people talking about the wealth of roles for powerful women in television lately. And when I look around the room at the women who are here and I think about the performances that I've watched this year, what I see actually are women who are sometimes powerful and sometimes not, sometimes sexy, sometimes not, sometimes honorable, sometimes not, and what I think is new is the wealth of roles for actual women in television and in film. That's what I think is revolutionary and evolutionary."
Maggie Gyllenhaal at the 2015 Golden Globes Award (by the way the same Maggie Gyllenhaal that at 37 was told to be too old to play the lover of a 55-year-old man)

Some figures:

- More than three-quarters of those involved (entire crew from make-up artist to sound engineers and directors) in making 2.000 of the biggest grossing films in the past twenty years have been male, 22% female (via).
- On basis of the 2.000 films, 13% of the editors, 10% of the writers and 5% of the directors were female. Visual effects had 17.5% women, music 16%, camera and electricals 5% (via).
- In TV, less than 15% of directors are women. (via)
- Of the top 100 box-offices releases in the US, 4.4% of the directors are women. (via)
- The Academy Award for Best Directing has been given out for 87 years. During this period, one woman won the award. (via)
- In film, about three-quarters of leading roles are male. (via)
- In 2014, women made up 13% of leading roles. (via)
- In film, 9 out of 10 script writers are male. (via)
- During the 2013/14 television season, 29% of employed TV writers were female (2011/12: 30.5%). (via)
- In 2013, 10% of film screenwriters from the top 250 films produced in the US were female. (via)
- In 2014, only 55.4% of films passed the Bechdel Test (2013: 67.5%, 2012: 66.4%). (via)
- In 2014, women had speaking roles 30% of the time, i.e., 5% more than in the 1940s and 1950s. (via)
- In 2014, the top ten earning actresses made half of what their male counterparts made. (via)
Ally the Manic Listmaker compiled a collection of movies by women worldwide in the past twenty years and listed 1.400. (via)

Some reactions:

- In 2015, Meryl Streep started funding the "Writers Lab", a laboratory for women screenwriters over 40.
- In 2015, "The Dollhouse Collective" was launched by Rose Byrne and four other actresses, an all-female production company aiming to increase the presence of female filmmakers (via)
- In 2014, Lena Dunham launched "A Casual Romance" with two women, a production company aiming to empower comedic women. (via)
- In 2012, Reese Witherspoon together with producer Bruna Papandrea launched "Pacific Standard" focusing on developing roles for women.
- In 2015, Geena Davis launched the Bentonville Film Festival to promote diversity . (via)

- Smith, S. L., & Cook, C. A. (2008) Gender Stereotypes: An Analysis of Popular Films and TV., www.thegeenadavisinstitute.org
- photographs of Twiggy Lawson by Bert Stern (1929-2013) via and via and via and via and via

The first part of this posting was originally published on Science on Google+ on 14th of December 2013