"Transparent" director and human woman Jill Soloway gave her thoughts on Hollywood in 2015 during a speech last month.
"It's not funny anymore what's going on with us," she said, before calling for a "matriarchal revolution" in film. A soon-to-be-released study by the University of Southern California lights a fire under her words. After studying 700 movies released between 2007 and 2014, researchers found only 1.9 percent were directed by women, and, out of all characters given lines or even just a name, women made up less than one third.
But -- hold on! Hollywood has cranked out a bunch of lady-centric blockbusters lately. Everyone's talked about it. Maybe the tide has turned in 2015. Maybe Soloway just hasn't felt it yet. Maybe studios are realizing and righting past errors!
Nah. The Huffington Post looked at the 100 most popular films that either have been or will be released to U.S. audiences in 2015, from both IMDb's and Rotten Tomatoes' listings. Out of those 200 titles, duplicates left us with 163 films that show how gender inequality is still a huge issue. Let's watch.
If women don't make movies, Soloway went on to explain in her speech, it sets equality back -- and not just in Hollywood. Because if a director has done his or her job, viewers will empathize with the characters onscreen. "When men are making movies about men, they're creating more empathy for the male gaze," she said. Women and Hollywood founder Melissa Silverstein echoed the director's sentiments.
"People who make culture need to understand that you have to reflect culture," Silverstein told Refinery29, "yet the movies consistently say that white men matter more."
Jumping into Hollywood leadership roles is essential for change, even if it's hard for women to do, Soloway added.
"Women are shamed for having desire for anything -- for food, for sex, for anything," she said. "There’s nothing that directing is about more than desire. It’s like, 'I want to see this. I want to see it with this person. I want to change it. I want to change it again.'" All so the film does its job in eliciting emotional response from an audience. A subject that women, Soloway observes, supposedly excel in, even if "somehow men were able to swindle us into believing that [emotion] is their specialty."
It seems the men of Hollywood have been astoundingly successful in that endeavor, if we measure in dollars. So far, in 2015 -- our "year of women" -- the largest budget a woman has been given to direct a movie is $40 million. The largest budget a man has been given to direct a movie is $250 million.
The Los Angeles Times hosted a roundtable discussion with six female filmmakers to discuss what they'd do with that much money.
"I don't even know what that means," director Zoe Cassavetes said. "Two hundred million should equal epic." All the women acknowledged that they'd probably divvy up the sum to make multiple movies, maybe sharing some of it with others.
"There was something very personal about the approach [to filmmaking] as a woman," Cassavetes explains. "Maybe it could be a great movie for men to watch and see, 'Dang, that happens to women?' It just shifts the perception a little bit."
Women are 50 percent of the population, and taking up 50 percent of the movie theater's seats. When Hollywood will decide to start representing that reality onscreen is anyone's guess.
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