The Double-Standard for Movie Actresses

In September, I wrote about the transition of the generations between actors and how we're at a moment where we can see it happening.

I purposely didn't include actresses in that analysis for one main reason: Our society as a whole has a strict double-standard when it comes to men and women in the movies.

Men can be leading men, playing the heroes in romantic comedies and dramas well into their 60s. Women, on the other hand, age out of that category by the time they're in their early 40s - if not sooner.

I'm not saying this is fair. Nor am I saying that it's true that women over 40 aren't sexy. Personally, I can still get excited by Catherine Deneuve and Helen Mirren - both on the north side of 65.

No, what I'm saying is that, in the minds of Hollywood executives - and, to be honest, to the demographic that drives the sale of most movie tickets - women over 40 aren't appealing in that way. If you're in that 12-24-year-old demo, women in their 40s don't look like sex objects - they look like Mom.

The only time a woman over 50 gets cast these days is as the boss (think Sigourney Weaver in Avatar) or the mother of adult children (if not the grandmother). The only romantic comedy roles for women of a certain age focus on the novelty of someone still finding a woman over 50 to be desirable, as if someone ought to call Ripley's Believe It or Not. Think of Diane Keaton in Something's Gotta Give or Meryl Streep in It's Complicated.

As it happens, we're at a very rich moment for young actresses who are breaking out in movies.

This commentary continues on my website.