Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Dustin Hoffman, Tootsie, The Graduate, Feminism and Racism

"Tootsie is a 1982 American comedy film that tells the story of a talented but volatile actor whose reputation for being difficult forces him to adopt a new identity as a woman to land a job."

Tootsie is also the film that raised Dustin Hoffman's feminist consciousness; the film made him realise that he had been told a lie, had accepted the lie and had lived the lie. In a most beautiful interview (WATCH) Hoffman talks about how the film changed him. Tootsie was particularly popular with actors as they saw it on a level the rest of the public didn't since actors are exposed to "the true horror of auditioning" (via).

"When we got to that point and looked at it on screen, I was shocked that I wasn't more attractive. I said, 'Now you have me looking like a woman, now make me a beautiful woman.' Because I thought I should be beautiful. ... And they said to me, 'That's as good as it gets.'"
"It was at that moment I had an epiphany, and I went home and started crying, talking to my wife. And I said I have to make this picture, and she said, 'Why?' And I said, 'Because I think I am an interesting woman when I look at myself on screen. And I know that if I met myself at a party, I would never talk to that character because she doesn't fulfill physically the demands that we're brought up to think women have to have in order for us to ask them out. She says, 'What are you saying?'"
"I said, 'There's too many interesting women I have not had the experience to know in this life because I have been brainwashed. That ['Tootsie'] was never a comedy for me."
Dustin Hoffman

"Tootsie is the kind of Movie with a capital M that they used to make in the 1940s, when they weren't afraid to mix up absurdity with seriousness, social comment with farce, and a little heartfelt tenderness right in there with the laughs. This movie gets you coming and going...The movie also manages to make some lighthearted but well-aimed observations about sexism. It also pokes satirical fun at soap operas, New York show business agents and the Manhattan social pecking order."
Roger Egbert

“There’s a lack of diversity in women vis-a-vis men – it’s always been that way on the set. “Now you still shoot 35mm film, mostly I’m aware of the fact that the lowliest camera assistant is usually a woman and her job, ironically, is usually to carry the magazines of film, which are very heavy. It seems always to go to the woman – she’s given the worst job.”
Dustin Hoffman

"The next question is how many talented women didn’t get the chance to direct because of their gender. Probably quite a few, and the question is why?"
Dustin Hoffman

“That’s taken a long time. It has taken this long to have leading women who are not … the cover of a magazine.”
Dustin Hoffman

Hoffman was born in Los Angeles but felt like a New Yorker; he was even asked by his classmates if he came from New York when he had not yet been there (via).
“There was a good deal of antisemitism in Los Angeles, and I thought of New York as being somehow more assimilated.” Dustin Hoffman
In an interview, Dustin Hoffman recalls that "people like him" were not supposed to be film stars when he was growing up.
“In a sense, that lack of diversity was around then – in my day, if you didn’t look like Tab Hunter or Troy Donahue …”
Dustin Hoffman
“There were two papers, Backstage and Showbiz, you got to try to get a job. It would list the parts available, and they would say: ‘Leading men, leading women, leading juveniles, leading ingénues; character leading men, character ingénues, character juveniles” – that was the funny-looking semitic guy. That meant you weren’t good-looking, and good-looking meant white Anglo-Saxon protestant.”
Dustin Hoffman
"Nichols chose to give this short, funny-looking Jewish guy the role usually reserved for a tall, handsome protestant." Dustin Hoffman on getting the role in The Graduate
“I don’t think that’s ever going to go away. I think there’s always going to be some kind of bigotry or some kind of racism. There has to be, because people can’t feel that they have any hero qualities unless there’s someone beneath them.”
Dustin Hoffman
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photographs of Dustin Hoffman by Terry O'Neill via and via