Equality & Diversity
On the Ghostbuster's reboot gender furore:
‘Ghostbusters’ Is A Perfect Example Of How Internet Movie Ratings Are Broken
“Ghostbusters,” a revival of the 1984 original, hits theaters nationwide on Friday. As a reboot of a beloved, male-led science fiction film from the 1980s with a female-led cast, the reboot has proved somewhat controversial in the circles you would expect. But regardless of the quality of the film, it serves as a perfect demonstration of why internet movie ratings are inherently a problem.
Most fundamentally, single-number aggregations — like those used by sites such as Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic and IMDb — are a pitiful way of explaining the diverse views of critics. More specifically, a vocal portion of men on the internet — shall we say — go out of their way to make their voices heard when it comes to judging entertainment aimed at women, and that appears to be happening with the new “Ghostbusters.”
And when the first reviews appeared online last Sunday evening, the negative ones – outnumbered by the positive at a ratio of more than three to one – were heavily upvoted on Reddit, thus ensuring they’d be more widely read.
Once the positive skew became undeniable, rumours were circulated on social media that critics had either been bought off by Sony Pictures or were part of a feminist conspiracy. When my own review was published, the Telegraph was described on the IMDb talk boards as “a well-known leftist UK rag”, which must be a first.
This neatly ties together two previously mentioned aspects - toys that are targeted to boys because companies don't think girls are interested and the Ghostbusters furore,
Mattel Reports ‘Ghostbusters’ Toy Sales Have ‘Exceeded Expectations’
Toys of female characters are thought not to sell, despite the outcry over the lack of Black Widow and Rey in the toys linked with The Avengers and Star Wars, so it seems Mattel had low expectations for toys based on the new all-female Ghostbusters reboot. But their fears were unfounded.
It's not all good news, though,
In keeping with the tagline “Everybody wants to be a Ghostbuster,” Mattel’s retail strategy was to sell the female-led Ghostbusters action figures in the boys’ toy aisle. The sales figures at the top retailers in the country have exceeded expectations, the toymaker reported Friday.
It seems that Mattel doesn't expect boys to dare enter the girls aisle in search of good toys
On Leslie Jones & social media protecting white fragility but not black humanity
Calling Jones a “strong black woman” takes away from her humanity. It’s almost like saying, “Leslie, because you are a strong black woman, you can handle this. You can withstand, anything.” But she shouldn’t have had to go through this for so long, and Twitter should’ve come to the rescue sooner.
So the problem with Twitter especially is that it's focus on reporting instead of prevention is the technological equivalent of victim blaming. It's saying "We can do nothing to stop you seeing this shit, so you're just going to have to deal with it and report it all", rather than thinking about how it might put barriers between abusers and their targets. I have a long blog post brewing about this!
That's a very good point and I look forward to reading your blogpost
I really liked this piece on Ghostbusters and its importance for girls,
Why the Ghostbusters Women Are the Role Models My Daughter Needs
"The magic and allure of Ghostbusters, for me at least, is that the film takes down gender tropes with an ease that makes it feel completely and totally real, and not at all put-on. The four female leads come across as believable and authentic. They’re just four people following their passion and creating jobs for themselves doing something they love. And their sense of fashion and style? That’s very individual (and very real) as well. They’re confident, they’re capable, and they forge their own way."
Another piece uses Ghostbusters and the latest Star Trek film to look at how LGBT characters are finally making an appearance in film but minimally.
From Ghostbusters to Star Trek Beyond: Gay characters are there, but only just
". . . alongside the smell of popcorn, there’s a strong whiff of studio cowardice at the multiplex this summer with film-makers holding back when they should have been letting go. Rather than being offered some much-needed diversity, we’ve been given a stale reminder of the tiresome heteronormativity that continues to stifle change within blockbusters."
The Tomatometer gender gap is real: We crunched numbers on reviews of 100 films aimed at women, and here’s what we found
It's a really interesting article, not just for what it found but for the broader discussion of why their findings are as they are.
Margot Robbie deserves better than Suicide Squad’s sexism
Margot Robbie seems to have been pigeonholed as the 'sexy one' in multiple films, despite being a talented actor with much more to offer.
I've read/heard a lot of discussion about Harley Quinn, in particular how the camera can be used to influence the viewer's understanding of a film, something the article highlights. Robbie Collins, subbing for Mark Kermode on Kermode and Mayo's Film Review, gave a really good discussion of this on the 5/8/16 show. As the show is only available on podcast I've transcribed his discussion. If you want to listen to it, it's starts at 58:30ish.
"I want to mention a sequence in the film that involves Batman… Batman has a kind of extended cameo in Suicide Squad, it happens very very early in the film where he runs the joker-mobile off the road and he pulls Harley Quinn's body . . . out of the river… gives her mouth-to-mouth that I doubt the Red Cross would approve of - it looks like there's tongue involved, basically - and then the moment she comes round he pins her down to the ground, round the throat with his black-gloved hand.
Now this whole sequence is shot from Batman's point of view, the camera is behind his shoulder, we are supposed to be identifying with him as the hero, basically having this clandestine encounter with the prone body of a young woman on the dockside. Now who is supposed to be getting a thrill out of this? Who are DC directing these movies for? … You can do what you like with the batman character, you can make him behave like a sex attacker if you want, but to shoot that in a way that says 'this is what batman's doing and you are going to vicariously enjoy it' is what I find completely disgusting… You are [doing this] implicitly by placing the camera in a way that makes the viewer identify [with Batman] … and you have to ask 'who is it for?'. If they wanted to make that sequence scary the camera would be in Harley Quinn's point of view, you would see Batman's looming silhouette, being picked up and carried along the dockside, that's how you stage that sequence if you want to make Batman a sinister threat. In the way in which it's being staged it's supposed to be a transgressive thrill."
Another piece on Suicide Squad and the broader implications of its fandom,
Toxic white male nerd avengers: What’s really behind the “Suicide Squad” super-fan freak-out
"For better or worse, the fact that an entire generation holds pop culture on such a pedestal means that the cultural has become political. As a result, when a disproportionately large number of movies, TV shows, video games, and books feature white, straight and male characters at the expense of other groups, this is an inherently political act (deliberately or otherwise) and needs to be confronted. Indeed, when nerds react to calls for diversity with hostility, they are only demonstrating how true this is. There is a poignant significance to including non-white, non-male, and non-straight voices in cultural roles that were traditionally reserved for members of privileged groups. Conversely, it is terribly disheartening when the producers of entertainment refuse to recognize the cultural power they wield and utilize it in an inclusive way."
ADMIN EDIT - fixed link
Hollywood’s financial glass ceiling: Jennifer Lawrence tops highest-paid actresses list — but she still makes less than male A-listers
I couldn't decide whether to post this here or in 'Is there a gender pay gap?' so I went for both.
It's a really interesting piece that highlights that the top female stars barely out-earn mediocre male stars and also give a much better return on investment. It may seem that when someone's getting paid millions it really doesn't do them any favours to complain but the point is that these are women who have the clout to be able to complain, and if even they can't get pay equity, how on earth are women with much less influence and power ever going to?
“Thelma & Louise” turns 25: “It’s depressing how relevant it is”
Thelma & Louise is a great film and on its 25th anniversary there's been a few retrospectives. This piece looks at how a film that seemed a "harbinger of things to come" remains so controversial it would be difficult to imagine it being made today.
"After all this is a summer in which the idea of women busting ghosts — let alone recreationally blowing up trucks — has been the subject of endlessly abusive, idiotic vitriol. A movie about two women who kill, rob, have enjoyable sex and demand a sexist trucker apologize for being rude? A movie in which the men are the desperate partners on the other end of the phone? My God — the takes, they would be so hot."
Hollywood diversity report reveals damning 'entrenched inequality' across movie roles
Another year, another damning report on how crap Hollywood is at diversity.
A little less “conversation,” a little more action on trans representation
A perfect example of the 'entrenched inequality' is the continual casting of cis-men in trans- roles.
"Representation does not only mean movies about trans people, but also movies with trans people. It is about supporting trans people’s participation and success in a sphere in which they have previously been expelled, mocked or ignored. It is championing the full complexity of representation — and engaging that complexity without tapping out — that can tire even the sturdiest of allies and trans folk alike. (The difference? We don’t get to tap out of the conversation.)"
‘Being cute just made me miserable’: Mara Wilson on growing up in Hollywood
An excerpt from her new book which really highlights the ridiculous scrutiny kids are given in Hollywood.
"One day, age 12, I made the mistake of looking myself up on the internet. A website called Mr Cranky wrote that I was popping up in every movie these days because I would soon be entering “the awkward years, when she’ll be old enough to have breasts, but not old enough to show them legally”. I folded my arms over my chest just reading that, and even as an adult it makes me shudder. Who did they think they were, talking about a preteen girl’s breasts?"
Q&A: The Night Manager director Susanne Bier
Susanne Bier is the only female nominee in the category of outstanding director of a limited series at this year's Emmys. This Q&A has a couple of questions about the dearth of female directors that are worth reading,
"[to increase the number of women directors] I think stepping off the default, habitual way of thinking and approaching things. Get a female director to do a superhero movie, step out of the habitual thinking where you assume women will do a romantic comedy or family-orientated movie."
Why the age of 40 is so important in Hollywood
A fascinating analysis of age discrimination and sexism in Hollywood. The graphs are fascinating and the excuses are so predictable which essentially boil down to 'we make films to make money, and so we need films to be successful and making films about older women won't be successful'. Even though this is blatantly untrue. Racial discrimination has been shown to be costing Hollywood millions and analysts are increasingly noticing the 'grey pound' (depressingly referring to people over the age of 45) and its impact on box office returns.
17 Pictures That Prove British TV Is Diverse As Fuck
Buzzfeed highlight, in their unique style, the lack of diversity on British panel shows.
Sarah Solemani: ‘I had to hide my pregnancy. I worked until I was due’
Ostensibly an interview to promote her new film, there's a lot of good stuff about being a woman in film.
“I don’t want to make out they’re sexist, because the BBC are very supportive and they’ve made my career, and these commissioners have very hard jobs. They get scripts from everyone and there aren’t many slots,” she says. “I think it’s about familiarity. There is a familiarity in taste. And so the things that get on air might share a taste with the commissioners. That doesn’t mean they’re sexist; but they’re not going to put something on air that they don’t think is funny.”
Taraji P Henson's memoir exposes Hollywood's pay gap
As clear an example of the intersectional nature of discrimination as you can get.
Both Brad [Pitt] and Cate [Blanchett] got millions. Me? With bated breath, I sat by the phone for hours, waiting for Vince [her manager] to call and tell me the number that I thought would make me feel good: somewhere in the mid six figures – no doubt a mere percentage of what Brad was bringing home to Angelina and their beautiful babies, but something worthy of a solid up-and-coming actress with a decent amount of critical acclaim for her work. Alas, that request was dead on arrival. “I’m sorry, Taraji,” Vince said quietly when we finally connected. “They came in at the lowest of six figures. I convinced them to add in a little more, but that’s as high as they’d go.” There was one other thing: I’d have to agree to pay my own location fees while filming in New Orleans, meaning three months of hotel expenses would be coming directly out of my pocket. Insult, meet injury.
Hollywood sexism hurts more than careers: “Traditionally women have used fame as a platform”
An interesting interview with the host of an interesting series called 'Trailblazing Women' about some of the great women in the history of Hollywood.
BBC presenter Jon Holmes claims he was sacked for being a white man
This story really highlights the problems we have to face when it comes to increasing diversity. Holmes' argument seems to be that increasing diversity will come at the expense of quality, an argument that was rebutted in the article I linked to here. How do we get across the idea that diversity and quality are not inversely related, that you can be good and a woman or black or gay, or even that you can be good and also be a black gay woman? It seems the biggest problem we have to fight is the privilege of white men who think that these jobs are automatically theirs.
Hilary Swank Was Once Offered $500,000 to Play Opposite a Man Who Made $10 Million
More a collection of anecdotes than a real article, but interesting nonetheless.
Mila Kunis Pens Open Letter Calling Out a Male Producer's Sexist Bullshit
“It’s what we are conditioned to believe — that if we speak up, our livelihoods will be threatened; that standing our ground will lead to our demise,” she writes. “We don’t want to be kicked out of the sand box for being a “bitch.” So we compromise our integrity for the sake of maintaining status quo and hope that change is coming.”
Tippi Hedren Says Alfred Hitchcock's Treatment of Her Was Even Worse Than Previously Thought
But he was a great director and she's just exaggerating so it doesn't matter [/sarcasm]
The Fall is a BBC Series about a female police officer's attempts to catch a serial killer. It recently ended its third series and has generated a lot of discussion about the way violence against women is portrayed on the screen including an episode of the BBC's Seriously radio show (and podcast) titled 'Body Count Rising'. A couple of articles about this episode can be found here and here. The episode is well worth a listen, particularly as it includes an interview with an actress who has played a rape victim and the psychological toll that such a portrayal can take.
Highlighting that it's not just crime dramas that have problems, Poldark, another BBC series, recently contained a rape scene that caused a lot of controversy. It sounds very much like the controversial scene between Jaime and Cersai in Game of Thrones in that it thinks that if a woman 'gives in' then it's not rape. This article describes why this attitude is so dangerous. And this article highlights even more starkly how this attitude is harmful to all women.
Women in Movies Running in Heels
A great piece looking at the stupid omnipresence of women in inappropriate footwear on screen and asking if getting more women into production design would stop the insanity.
Hayao Miyazaki and the Art of Being a Woman
A quite beautiful piece examining the art and characters of Hayao Miyazaki,
"Miyazaki’s films reinforced for me what many women come to learn eventually: that being female is not about fitting one superficial ideal or another. It is ultimately not about how you look or how you act, but who you are."
Astrid Deserved Better: An Animator’s Quest to Make DreamWorks Feminist–From the Inside
How to Train Your Dragon is one of my favourite films and I watch it regularly (wet sunday afternoons are a favourite). But I completely agree with this article. I was baffled at the direction the film took, it seemed so clear who should have been Chief. It's interesting to know it was mooted and disappointing to see the reasons behind its rejection. (trying to be vague in case of spoilers)
Sarah Paulson Is Not Here For Your Concerns About 'Cat Fights' While Filming Ocean's 8
Ocean's 11 had stories about how much fun it was to film, the new Ocean's 8 has questions about whether there will be catfights amongst the crew.
William H. Macy on Equal Pay: 'It’s About Fucking Time, Don't You Think?'
I think I love William H. Macy!
Nearly Half of 2016’s 25 Biggest Films Passed the Bechdel Test — But Plenty Failed
Oh, the comments. No, the Bechdel Test isn't perfect but the fact that it's still so hard for mainstream films to have two named female characters talk about something other than men is definitely worth highlighting.
Watch Madonna Open Up About Facing Relentless Sexism and Abuse in Award Acceptance Speech
Madonna lets rip on the sexism and double standards within the entertainment industry.
Some Showrunners Are Banning Rape as a Plot Device on Their Shows
At last If nothing else, it's a lazy cliché that shows a complete lack of imagination. Need to motivate a female character - let her get raped!
Sexual harassment and “Last Tango in Paris”: The more things change for women in the workplace, the more they stay the same
A lot has been written about the revelation that the "Last Tango in Paris" rape scene didn't involve a lot of acting. I chose this piece as it gives a lot more commentary, both on the circumstances that allowed such a violation to happen back when it was filmed, and also how these cirucmstances, despite many people's claims that things have changed - are still prevalent.
These Women Are Behind Some Of Your Favorite Lesbian Sex Scenes On TV
A look at how women writers are slowly ending the prevalence of male gaze in lesbian sex scenes.
Female film protagonists reached all-time high in 2016, study shows
Cause for celebration, until you realise that 'all-time high' is just 29%. Only another 21% to go…
How Disney is drawing out cliches from its female characters
Animators at the California Institute of the Arts are slowly recognising the stereotypes exhibited by many female cartoon characters and are finally trying (with varying degrees of success) to change things.
“Male villains, for example, can be any shape or size. But female villains are usually in their menopausal or postmenopausal phases. They're older, they're single, they're angry,” said Erica Larsen-Dockray, who teaches a class on “The Animated Woman” for CalArts' experimental animation program.
“Then you have the innocent princess,” she added with a chuckle, “whose waist is so small that if she was actually alive, she wouldn't be able to walk.”
9 Ways Hollywood Needs To Do Better In 2017
In light of the two articles above, Buzzfeed has a handy list of things Hollywood needs to improve. It's a great article that is well worth a read. You may not have noticed these tropes but you will now (sorry for ruining films and TV for you). This quote really summarises the problem,
“When artists create works about minorities with little research or attempt to understand the lived experience, they should expect questions about representation”
← previous page
next page →