Saturday, 3 October 2015

Our Brand Is Sexism

I'm pleased to see more and more about equality in filmmaking and TV production, behind the camera and in front of it. But it seems that most of the talk is about stirring speeches, where people stand up and clap but nothing much more is done. But, trying to channel some optimism, I'm hoping all this 'talk' will leads to eventual changes and shake ups.

Progress feels like its just around the corner. Viola Davis delivered a fantastic speech when she won her award recently, its events like these where women are using the spotlight for good. But then on the otherside of things, you have idiots like Matt Damon talking over a successful black female producer about diversity. 'You do it in the casting of the film not in the casting of the show'. Here is the clip - its short but sums up the Hollywood attitude. And here is a link to him apologising for being insensitive.
Oh look at all the men and one women here...

To be honest, I had wanted to see this show, but after this and whole media hit it took afterwards, really put me off ever seeking this show out. All men, oh apart from one woman. Really great guys. This doesn't put a good light on supposed nice guy actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck at all, or their 'brand'. They all say that diversity is very important to them, but what they do doesn't reflect this at all.

Reading over some articles that were posted by Birds Eye View Film I was not surprised to read that 99% of women working in film have experienced sexisim. Is it bad that I'm not surprised? Or is it bad that nothing has been done? Both. The article was very interesting and again, most of what was said didn't surprise me, just disappointed me. As Amanada Nevil, Chief Executive, BFI says, there is clearly an issue. I've added some quotes from women in film from the article and you can read it in full here.

"It mainly works through tokenism: we women directors are so starved for jobs, if you tap any of us to get into the club, we swear to uphold club rules and not rock the boat. If everybody wants to be “the chosen one” or “one of the guys”, you won’t have unity and solidarity – the only weapons that can combat the status quo." - Lexi Alexander, Director

"On my first film, after completing my very first shot, I was approached by a member of the crew who asked me if I “knew why women bleed”. When I looked at him, slightly confused, he answered “because they’re evil”" - Amma Asante, Director

"Most of the time it’s a refusal to do what you’ve asked, or to doubt the legitimacy of the instruction." - Agnes Godard, cinematographer

"I’ve heard, for example, that if a male director is being picky, people say he has a strong vision. With a woman, people will say she is being difficult."- Ellen Kuras, cinematographer

"There are still far more men than women working in almost every field in the film industry, and it’s not because women aren’t interested in those jobs. There are not enough films with female protagonists or characters who are more than the obligatory wife, girlfriend or assistant. There are also plenty of parts written for men over 40 and very few for their female counterparts." - Sandy Powell, Costume Designer

"There is clearly an issue within the industry: less than 15% of British films have been directed by women and there are similar figures when it comes to writers."- Amanda Nevill, Chief Executive, BFI

 There was also a recent article about Geena Davis and sexisim in film and TV and about her 'Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, the only research-based organisation that works to promote gender balance in the media and entertainment industries.' It's an interesting sounding study that combs through all the stats of women in the industry and how the percentage of women to men ratio is 17%. It's odd that the number keeps appearing. She mentions her own struggles with work as she gets older. Hollywood only seem interested in white men and not interested in stories that may feature women, over 40 years of age. 

“If a movie starring or written by or directed by a man flops, people don’t blame the gender of the creator,” the writer and director Diablo Cody told Variety magazine last July. “It’s just kind of weird how the blame is always immediately placed on female directors.”

It's a brilliant article and I'm actually annoyed that I missed out in tickets for Geena Davis' talk at the BFI Festival this year. Talking about these issues in the industry will and should lead to action. You can read the full article here.

But, through all this sexism issues, there is a small light at the end of the tunnel when I heard that more roles meant for men are being rewritten for women. After Sandra Bullock was struggling to find a decent role, she came across 'Our Brand is Crisis' script and asked if she could play the lead. George Clooney was the co-producer on the project and so with some calls and script changes, the role was given to Bullock and I have to say, after seeing the trailer I am looking forward to seeing it. George Clooney admitted that after the role was rewritten, the project also began to move forward. There have been other roles originally for mem, switched to woman, like the remake of Secret in Their Eyes with Juilia Roberts in the lead and Emily Blunt in Sicario. Now we just need more diversity.


  1. Great post boo :) some of those quotes are shocking. It IS tiring to only see token women in films, especially when they are stereotyped. Saw there was an article about sexualized female superheroes on that gina Davis site. Such a good point. Why DO they have to be 'sexy'? It's weird. Lots of food for thought here! X

  2. Thanks boo! There were some other quotes I left out that were pretty appalling. It's really annoying, especially the stereotypes and then when anyone tries to break the mould its criticised. There seems to be more comics with women at the helm so that's looking up, but movies are lagging behind. The whole 'sexy' thing irritates me so much! That is not a personality strait for a character is a description. x