Issues Of Gender Inequality In Hollywood

In 2019, Marvel is set to release Captain Marvel, a superhero feature film that will focus on a female protagonist played by Brie Larson.

Rumors circulating the project indicate that the entire crew in Captain Marvel will be made up of women. Many consider this to be an immense step towards change within an industry highly influenced by males. Most of the highest grossing films over the last 20 years have featured a male dominated crew; women generally make up an average of 22 percent of a film’s workforce.

“It is nice to hear that the industry is taking steps to open its doors to women,” said Florence Disishiem, junior.

Women in film tend to work in wardrobe and makeup. However, opportunity within electric and camera departments, which is statistically 95 percent male, is expanding for aspiring female filmmakers.

“I challenge anyone to read the statistics and not feel that my industry has a problem with gender equality,” said Stephen Follows, British producer and writer, during a recent interview.

Data has shown that movies with a male producer generally include a creative team that is 70 percent male. Films with a female producer do not alter the dynamics much; the average demographic for a crew under the direction of a female is around 60 percent male.

Many actresses have become public with the lack of female representation in the industry. They claim that female characters lack in numbers and in depth when compared to their male counterparts, due in part to the industry’s overwhelming male perspective.

“With the lack of women behind the camera comes a lack of [female] speaking roles and screen presence,” said Montre Missourie, filmmaker and associate professor at Howard University.

Women are often slated to portray sexist, stereotypical roles that pin them as damsels in distress who rely on a male’s presence. Generally, female characters serve a male protagonist, often blending into the background of the story.

Reese Witherspoon, actress and producer, recently became vocal about this issue following the distribution of her film “Wild.” Originally, Witherspoon was denied the role under another production company for being a “likable” actress in Hollywood, which, as she was told, would affect the portrayal of a flawed character.

Witherspoon, who felt it was necessary that Hollywood produced a film with a female lead who was interesting, complicated and flawed, was determined to produce “Wild” with her own production company.

Despite box office success and critical acclaim, “Wild” was outed from the season’s Academy Awards, which went on to recognize films with male leads and producers. For Witherspoon, however, the opportunity to produce and portray an interesting female character on screen was victory enough.

Aside from being portrayed as vulnerable, female characters in films are twice as likely to be portrayed as sexual objects, or lesser in social status. Global film study analyzed around 120 films and 5,799 speaking characters. From this group of films, only 13.9 percent of the women on screen were portrayed as executives and only 9.5 percent were portrayed as high-level politicians.

It is not a lack of interest that keeps women a minority in Hollywood. In the current cultural climate, women are just as likely as men to attend film school or aspire to make films. However, in a study published in 2015 by the University of California, studios in Hollywood remain 94 percent white and male.

“Without women writers, producers, directors and cinematographers, not even half of the stories of our cultures and societies are being told,” said Missourie.

By excluding women from the Hollywood equation, the industry is depriving society of unique stories and perspectives in films that can only be recognized through the lens of a marginalized group, which include women and minorities. Stories told by males have inspired movie-goers for generations. Now, more than ever, it is time for minorities and women to have their spotlight opportunity.

The opinions expressed in this article are that of the writer.

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