February 25, 2012

Salon: "The Oscars’ woman problem"

ASTONISHING: Getting beyond basic cast-and-crew details, Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist pop culture media critic and the editor of Feminist Frequency, has produced a video (above) putting the 2012 best picture nominees to the so-called Bechdel test. This looks at whether a film has, at any point, female characters having an interaction with each other that’s not about a male character. Only two of the 10 pass.

Great article by Michael Barthel at the Salon's website about Oscar's domination by men. Check out the highlights:
"In 2011, only 5 percent of the top-grossing movies were directed by women. And, astoundingly, the Oscars are even worse. None — zero — of the films in the best picture, best director, best adapted or original screenplay, best lead or supporting actor, and best supporting actress categories were directed by women. In the major categories, 98 percent of nominations went to movies directed by men, 84 percent went to movies written by men, and 70 percent went to movies starring men. The only female-centered movies that appear outside the best actress categories are “The Help” and “Bridesmaids.” In the best picture category, there are as many movies about women as there are movies about horses."
"Besides Bigelow, only three other women have been nominated for the best director Oscar: Sofia Coppola for “Lost in Translation” in 2003, Jane Campion for “The Piano” in 1993, and Lina Wertmüller for “Seven Beauties” in 1976. In the years since Bigelow’s win, no women have been nominated."
"The source of women’s underrepresentation at the Oscars is not exactly a mystery. A recent study by the L.A. Times confirmed what we all pretty much suspected: The Academy is overwhelmingly white and male. Seventy-seven percent of Oscar voters are male, a population that is very much at odds with America but fairly representative of the people who make the decisions in Hollywood."
"In the best picture category, male leads get to be actors, landowners, adventurers, inventors, writers, executives, soldiers and architects. Female leads get to be … housewives or domestic servants. (Even the supporting female characters are largely wives and mothers.) It’s not that this doesn’t represent an aspect of women’s experiences. It’s just that it doesn’t represent anything close to the entirety of women’s experiences, and the recognition of a film that emphasizes gender stereotypes and not a movie that gives another kind of portrait (like “Young Adult,” say) is telling."
"Maybe we need some affirmative action for Hollywood. If the government thinks it’s important to set standards for equality in workplace hiring, sports and college admissions, it might be time to recognize the importance of movies’ cultural and economic power. Hollywood is, after all, a multibillion-dollar industry, and one of America’s biggest exports. For women to have so few opportunities in the upper ranks of such an important industry is absurd, and exactly the kind of thing the government would want to get involved in — theoretically, anyway."
 Read the full article here.

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