Here’s another article from the statisticians at FiveThirtyEight. In the article, they dig deeper into the dollar and cents against Hollywood’s gender bias and exclusion in front and behind the camera. In a large sample of 1,794 movies released from 1970 to 2013, using the Bechdel test, they found that only half had at least one scene in which women talked to each other about something other than a man. They also found that most films fail the first criteria, which is to have two named female characters.
Now, I don’t believe the Bechdel test to be the true determinate of gender equality in cinema, especially considering films like “Gravity” which prominently features Sandra Bullock, fails the test. But with half the planet’s population movie-going women, why are films so desperately failing a simple test that exists outside of the silver screen?
Well, the answer is simple. Hollywood doesn’t believe that films that equally feature women are profitable. Even though women purchase at least half of the movie tickets, gender-equal films just don’t make it to the screen. Hollywood is a business, a male-driven business, that will not support films that “don’t travel well”. It’s a bad situation, without an equal amount of female writers, directors, producers, etc., female characters aren’t given equal screen time, but it doesn’t matter anyway because these films rarely return on investment.
Of course there are exceptions to the rule, and the future of gender-equal films is progressing from the 1970s. The data did demonstrate that films containing meaningful interactions between women do better at the box office than movies that don’t, and “it may be only a matter of time before the data of dollars and cents overcomes the rumors and prejudices defining the budgeting process of films for, by and about women.”
Nate Silver’s new website, FiveThirtyEight, wrote an interesting article about the top grossing films that pass the Bechdel test. The article “debunks the myth” that films with female leads do poorly at the box office. The conclusion being that if these commercially successful films pass the Bechdel test (Bechdel Test is a three-point exam that quantifies the presence of women in a film by judging movies against three criteria: 1) Does the film have at least two named female characters? 2) Do two named female characters have a conversation at any point? And 3) Is that conversation about something other than a male character?) the myth must be false.
The report also found that “films with more prominent female characters received substantially lower budgets than films without those women.”
Happy Last Day of Women’s History Month!
As if a month is long enough to highlight the gender’s many achievements and continue to promote equality, it has come to an end.
The United States Government has created a website where you can access The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
It’s a great place to see invaluable contributions women have made to America.
Can you believe women couldn’t even vote until 1920? To me that means we’ve only been a democracy for 94 years.
Kristen Schaal, The Daily Show’s Senior Women’s Issues Correspondent, satirizes current women’s issues (obviously) on last week’s show. In honor of Women’s History Month, she, with the aid of host Jon Stewart, took on Susan Patton’s book Marry Smart.
With biting wit, the two deconstructed the ever-growing pressures that women face in today’s society. Rather than discuss ways to improve equality, Patton is promoting ways for women to ignore their education, their goals, their overall right to choose for the sake of having a husband and family before their insides wither up and die.
The two segments highlight the constant barrage of media that focuses on women’s reproductive issues, rather than issues of equality.
If you haven’t seen Comedy Central’s Broad City, let alone heard of it, then watch it immediately. Not only is it a fresh take on single 20-something city dwellers, it showcases female comedians in their prime, hysterically dealing with the growing pains of everyday city life, all the while breaking down stereotypes of comedy’s gender binary.
Broad City started as web series, before it was picked up by Comedy Central and executive produced by Amy Poehler (she also directed the season 1 finale). It just ended it’s first season, leaving a huge void in the television line-up for female written, produced, directed, and starred material.
In each episode, series creators Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, navigate their way through New York City, both broke and flawed. But, “they don’t shy away from the sticky situations NYC throws at them — they dive right into the muck. No matter how bad it gets, these broads are always down with whatever hits them.”
Each episode slowly breaks down the barriers of female and male relationships, with Abbi and Ilana’s non-competitive friendship the heart of the show. They are unfiltered representations of the female experience.
This article from Speakeasy, talks about the “sneak attack” feminism of Broad City’s web series.
The Conversation’s Amanda de Cadenet speaks with actress and activist Zoe Saldana.
It’s important to challenge stereotypes. The images of normalcy and beauty that the media portrays are very limited, as well and the ideals of gender and sexuality. In order to create acceptance, we need to start with our media. Why not start with more diverse character designs? “Ideal human traits” should apply to everyone, not just a limited few.
Check out Bret’s “Genderbendt Disney” characters.