It’s a male, male movie world
However I’ve crawled out from the rock I’ve been living under and I’m standing here, scratching my head, wondering what the f… is going on.
Can you give me a good reason why over 90 percent of the movies that come out from the Hollywood factory should be directed by men? I can’t and believe me – I’ve tried hard to come up with something. We’re not talking about fire fighting, mining or some other traditionally heavy job requiring a physically strong body. We’re talking about people who spend their days thinking, talking, leading, negotiating, marketing, occasionally being creative. Why wouldn’t women be as interested or successful at doing this?
My new insight was triggered a little while ago by one of my favourite podcasts, Filmspotting. It wasn’t anything they said on the show though; it was completely unintentional. I was visiting their website and landed on a page where they had links to the guest interviews they’ve had over the years. It contained various sorts of film workers, mostly directors and actors as far as I could tell. And when I looked at the pictures it suddenly struck me how few of them who were women – a total of five out of 60 interviewed persons.
Since the hosts of the show never have come across as misogynists, I suspected that the numbers might have to do with the looks of reality. This was confirmed as I started to google about to see what all this was about.
From the website Women and Hollywood I got some statistics from 2010:
- Women directed 7 percent of the top 250 grossing films
- Women wrote 10 percent of the top 250 grossing films
- Women comprised 15 percent of all executive producers
- Women comprised 24 percent of all producers
- 18 percent of all editors were women
- 2 percent of all cinematographers were women
Taking a risk
The question is: why is it like this? Is it because women don’t want to make movies? Maybe they don’t accept to work insane hours for a low salary, maybe they prioritize family before making a career? Is it because they’re bad at making movie? Well, how could you get good at it if you never get quite get the chance? Or is it because men won’t let them make movies? I don’t know. Perhaps it’s a combination of all of it.
In my search for an answer I stumbled upon an article on this topic where they quoted Jodie Foster:
“I don’t think it’s a plot and these guys sat around and said let’s keep these women out,” Foster said. “I think it’s like race psychology. When a producer hires a director, you’re hiring away your control completely. You’re bringing on somebody that will change everything. When you give that amount of power up, you want them to look like you and talk like you and think like you and it’s scary when they don’t, because what’s gonna happen? I’m gonna hand over $60 million to somebody I don’t know. I hope they look like me.”
It sounds plausible to me.
The question is: Is there anything we can do about this? Do we even need to? What’s the problem if nine of ten directors are guys?
Well to start with the last question, I imagine diversity brings us more variation. I don’t suggest women make one sort of movies and men a different one. We’re all individuals and can’t be sorted into boxes that easily. But it sounds likely that by leaving out almost half of the population, you would miss out some perspectives and experiences that could have added something.
In Sweden the numbers are far more even. In 2010 about 30 percent of the directors were women and 40 percent of the producers.
I would call that decent, but it’s not considered enough, and because of this, the Swedish film institute has given out extra financial support to movies with female directors. Recently the film festival of Stockholm announced a scholarship of 700 000 dollars to a director, but it’s only available to women.
I’ve never been a big fan of special treatment to women as a way to promote equality. In the ideal world we don’t need it. Quality should be more important than gender and there’s no reason why women shouldn’t be competitive in their own right. Discriminating male directors by giving them less financial support is not the way to go.
On the other hand I can see what they’re trying to do. The more we talk about how few women there are in the film industry and how tough it is for them to get by, the fewer women will be inspired to try it out. Or as someone who recently made a research report about why women are in minority in the film industry put it:
“To recruit women to the film production you need to create an image of the film industry which tells you that women can survive there”.
She has a point. The question is: can you create this image without handing out subsidiaries?
Media has a certain role in this, no doubt. The portray they give of the women who actually have made it to Hollywood will affect how they’re regarded by the industry, and can also inspire or scare away potential female movie makers.
And that’s when I came to ask myself: what am I doing in those regards? Do I make an effort to make women more visible? Probably not. Just throw a glance at my blogroll. Out of 37 linked blogs, only two are run by women as far as I know of, and both of them are Swedish.
All this has given me food for thought. How can we make the movie industry into less of a men-only business?
I don’t have the answer yet. But at least I’ve woken up and realized that the question is valid. That’s a start.