May 18, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Here is food for thought- Appendix B from a new study on gender equality in film, from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism .
The study’s findings are, basically, more of the same, if not worse for the most recent year. (thus Appendix B for your perusal, consideration, reality checking…) On the site, USC Annenberg News, a post from May 13, 2013 notes:
“Across five years (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012), 500 top-grossing films at the U.S. box office, and over 21,000 speaking characters, a new study by USC Annenberg found that females represented less than one-third (28.4%) of all speaking characters in 2012 films. When they are on screen, 31% of women in 2012 were shown with at least some exposed skin, and 31.6% were depicted wearing sexually revealing clothing.”
Okay, so I’m not adverse to skin showing. Lust and sex are part of life. And women like to preen sometimes. Flaunt what God gave ya. The study, however, notes that the skin shown tends to be on teenage girl body parts,
adding salt to the wounds of aging female actresses lucky enough to factor within the 28.4% of speaking roles available and calling into question just what “we” intend to do through film. Sell Peter Pan?
And to the lower than 28.4% female representation. Maybe that truly reflects who watches movies and pays for them.
Maybe WOMEN don’t WASTE THEIR TIME WATCHING (teenage skin in) MOVIES?
There’s a “do loop” here? Build Costner’s baseball diamond and the players will show up.
Maybe the better question, in light of all these not so surprising Annenberg study findings, is WHERE ARE THE MOVIES WOMEN WANT TO WATCH?
Hey, I like action and adventure- say, the BOURNE flicks- as much as the rest of us, but, speaking of BOURNE, the female leads in them are among my favorite actresses because I admired them in the BOURNE. They could stand on their own, given a well written role. Like SALT, for instance, where Angelina Jolie plays a bang up, save-the-world, angry female fabulous lead. SALT has cruelly few other female speaking parts.
Did part of SALT’s success depend upon men watching Jolie? Will men stop wanting to watch Jolie now that she’s altered her body? What an interesting thing to check. Was it just Angelina’s real boobs that the guys were watching all the time? Will there be a new superstar beauty goddess now, one men consider real? The men who, apparently, are the audience for whom the 78% male speaking roles are writ? And the directors and writers and producers and decision makers.
The full study is available at:
List of 2012 Films in the Sample
Marvel’s The Avengers The Dark Knight Rises The Hunger Games Skyfall
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2
The Amazing Spider-Man Brave
Think Like a Man The Campaign
Dark Shadows Parental Guidance John Carter
This Is 40
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days
Phantom Menace (3D) Resident Evil: Retribution The Cabin in the Woods What to Expect When You’re
The Guilt Trip
*Study funded by the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism © 2013 Dr. Stacy L. Smith
May 17, 2013 § Leave a Comment
We were sitting on our back terrace. I am so very bored with the greenspace around us, the fields, the quiet. I was thinking about change, any change. And my husband, reading his cell phone news feed, was chuckling over reported shortages of toilet paper in Venezuela.
He asked if I’d blogged about the wonderful phone chats I had with my children on Mother’s Day. I said, in my bored-with-greenspace voice, “no.”
They are back in my good graces. I feel like Mick Jagger’s proud mother, by the way.
“Angelina Jolie had a double mastectomy,” my husband read out loud.
The fields around me flared up hot green. The gnats disappeared. I looked over at him.
Her Op- Ed piece appeared in the New York Times on 14 May: My Medical Choice by Angelina Jolie – NYTimes.com.
In making her choice, given an 87% chance she’d develop breast cancer, she put foremost in her thoughts the death of her mother from breast cancer and the pain a child suffers watching and losing someone that way. Mother and child were the reasons she chose radical surgery.
I took the news as a gut hit. I realized I considered her epic beauty MY possession, MY right, my joy. Meaning that, of all the breasts in the world, the idea that these very public and perfect ones had just been cut off filled MY world with sadness.
And then the sorrow- deep, ache filled- for the woman who’d had to make that choice, overcame me. I stared out at my Disney-esque verdant farm fields without comment.
My husband kept reading. He reached the part where “reconstruction” and “three months of surgeries” suggested Angelina’d been able to maintain her physique, not end up with flat, ripped and scarred, war torn skin over chest bone results typical for women years ago. Thank god, and surgeons.
And her ability to pay. That’s part of the point she makes in her Op-Ed piece. The test alone for a cancer-likely gene costs $3000.
We are not guaranteed perfect health as humans experiencing life. Neither are we guaranteed access to perfect health care. “Health” and “perfect” themselves take on varying meanings for each of us, worldwide, I’d bet.
But pain is guaranteed us all in some form or other. And all women know the pleasure, the pride, perhaps the affirmation of identity itself which their breasts offer them. To lose them; to lose your source of pleasure, your pride, your identity, to fear the onslaught of death; this, unfortunately, is part of human life. But so, too, is change.
Read Ms. Jolie’s Op-Ed piece.
Feel the power brewing, the potential for better and more options for women hissing like steam as an engine starts, the world of medicine and philanthropy suddenly listening, simply because such a superstar as ANGELINA JOLIE, actress, director, wife and mother, has suffered.
And decided to go public with her own story.
She is now in my prayers, as a friend.
All women suffering are.
May 12, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I worry that I’ve not raised my children to understand love. I, of course, want proof that they do – that they know how to give it, or at least remember its first source, the gooey pulsing womb waters- and wait for them to acknowledge that memory with a phone call on Mother’s Day.
Hello! Me, I’m the mother. And I’m proud of you, like it or not. But I swear I’ll tear your throats out if you haven’t learned love, or better, and perhaps less overwhelming, and here’s the mother giving you a break again, at least human kindness.
Seque to the most stirring documentary I’ve seen since Tiffany Shlain’s “Connected”:
Andrew Loog Oldman’s 1965 film by Peter Whitehead, “Charlie is my Darling- Ireland 1965.”
It’s about the Rolling Stones.
I always thought Mick Jagger was the guy I’d not take home to mother, and probably not the first pick I’d make for a friend to my sons. He’s the genius whose band’s music I’ve adored and, as a sweet dull Southern girl, felt paranoid to emulate. In any way. I mean, my god, drugs and sex and rock and roll? I was a toddling Republican in the sixties and a prig of a good student through the eighties. Then a wife.
And then a mother.
A mother and a woman suddenly, very seriously, respecting Mick Jagger, who chats for the camera in this first documentary film made not as that, exactly, but to acclimate the freshly famous band to being filmed and also to check which of its members the camera loved best.
Spoiler alert! It’s Charlie they claim the camera loved.
Notice almost humorous cameraman misses when he pans off Mick or Keith, not aware that fifty years down the road we’d kill to see nothing but Mick right then, vintage learning-his-act moments, or just Keith’s hands. For a LONG time… jeezus, pan out, give us Mick’s whole body, he’s patenting that stiff leg thing… it’s like filming your baby’s birth and cutting away to the nurse.
But who knew?
At any rate, here’s what the website, www.charlieismydarling.com has to say about the film:
The Rolling Stones Charlie is my Darling – Ireland 1965 was shot on a quick weekend tour of Ireland just weeks after “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” hit # 1 on the charts and became the international anthem for an entire generation. Charlie is my Darling is an intimate, behind-the-scenes diary of life on the road with the young Rolling Stones featuring the first professionally filmed concert performances of the band’s long and storied touring career, documenting the early frenzy of their fans and the riots their live performances incited
Yep. Stampede to the video store, cue up Netflix, whatever. Hurry. No Kidding. It’s that good.
But why promote “Charlie is my Darling” on a woman’s blog on Mother’s Day?
Watch the documentary. My heart went out to Mick. He is freakin’ genuine. And almost evasive of the limelight. Until, as he bluntly states, it’s time for him to become the egomaniacal actor for the audience. From such an at-that-point promising performer, such clarity and understanding. Such humanity.
I was stunned when my own heart raced as I watched the “boys” hang out and sing whatever Keith happened to start playing on his acoustic. In a crummy hotel room in Ireland.
The sheer ineffable talent. The beginning. Of what’s now as much a part of my own brain scape as the Doxology chanted in church and the silver pattern my grandmother left me.
A boy who became bigger than human but apparently, and again I say watch “Charlie is my Darling,” is a simple, compassionate guy. Or at least started out that way- proof’s on film. Mick Jagger. Go figure.
Okay, so if the “spectre” of sex and drugs and rock stars being evil deep down can pop like a zit in the mirror of documentary watching for the cynical likes of me, Grendel’s mother, I feel safe that even my kids, who might overlook Mother’s Day because they’re going about a happy day of their own, and for that I’m glad; I feel safe that they, too, whose lives likely won’t have the fabulous public trajectory and overwhelming pressure Mick’s does, probably learned love and human kindness, too.
But a phone call would be nice. I’ll report back. HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, all, with love.
May 7, 2013 § Leave a Comment
She’s a “filmmaker, speaker, actress, and advocate for women, girls and their families,” according to her home page, found at Jennifer Siebel Newsom – Home.
I needed a positive image with which to end my blog post last night, having used a shot of the fabulous Annette Benning, in character, pruning the devil out of red roses. What a portrayal of woman-as-flower-gone-wrong; and wow, what a movie! Bravo, AMERICAN BEAUTY.
But, I couldn’t end last night’s post, meant to offer readers visions of goodness and light and the flood of women now coming into my life, with the image of her vicious little snippers and the warped world of a gruesomely doomed marriage.
So I googled “women directors” and found the heart stopping, sweet shot I used to end my post. A mother reaching out for the little girl bounding her way.
I’ve been there. I’ve felt that. I wish there were pictures of me, just like that.
They’d sum up exactly how I feel, even as my children grow up and leave. Like an ecstatic bug held still forever in warm, delicious amber, eternally anticipating, reaching out, for the pulsing, rushing, freely given love of my child.
I admit I didn’t do my research on Jennifer Siebel Newsom. If you’re reading this, Jennifer, please accept both my apologies and my thanks. What a great photo.
Today, I’m high from an inspiring event, just attended, about Women, for Women, a grassroots-community-and-college-based success story wherein some Tidewater, Virginia ladies twenty years ago realized that educating women, particularly those who otherwise had no higher education opportunities, would pay off exponentially through their children, their extended families and their willingness to give back ten fold themselves.
Those ladies twenty years ago established a Women’s Center on the community college level and today celebrated success stories far beyond their twenty years ago dream. Check out http://www.tcc.edu/students/specialized/womenscenter, just for inspiration.
May 6, 2013 § 1 Comment
Winter, for me, was truly dreadful this year. I now know it because I’m living a comparison: Spring has picked up pace, my moods have lightened exponentially, and WOMEN friends are coming out of the proverbial woodwork, vibrant with wonderful ideas, plans, schemes, suggestions, and simply support, all around me now. Like buds breaking open, blooming.
Okay, yes. I did it. Women-as-flower metaphor. Please don’t gag. Look in the face of the next newborn baby girl you see and tell me we aren’t sent to earth just that. Blooming flowers.
I tell my sons to treat me as a flower. It infuriates them. They know I’m more thorn than petunia, more oak tree than Lily-of -the -Valley.
Gosh, I love Lily-of-the-Valley. It’s been a long time since I was so delicate. Becoming woman takes the delicate out of you.
But it also forces the beauty into full flower. For, instance:
Invited by one of these woodwork women, I’m actually driving an hour tomorrow morning, before human organisms should be required even to walk straight, much less operate heavy equipment, at zero-dark-thirty aka 6-ish, to attend a breakfast (as if my coffee right here at home isn’t good enough, and my warm bathrobe, and my bleary eyed, not a morning person ruse.)
It’s a NETWORK FOR EMPOWERING WOMEN STUDENTS event, plated breakfast served at 8am. I can’t wait. I feel included, and intrigued.
I type this as if I know anything about the event. I’m not fully empowered myself. I think that’s why the friend, herself a powerhouse, now retired, formerly Deputy Director of a renown Museum, invited me to bask in the reflected morning light of leading and leading-women-in-training.
And I’m excited.
Another woodwork, friend, a determined, amazing “cuss,” as my grandmother would say, meaning a real independent woman, constantly sends me great links online, like this:
Irritatingly, she’s also a gorgeous, blonde and vibrant yoga goddess. Twist leg around head and touch toe to thigh, extend torso to sky. Hold. Don’t move. Namaste. That’s Stephanie.
I met her in France, during a seminar at a chateau, where I swear the ghosts of guillotined owners still sat, watching, from long undusted corners, and plumbing leaks leant atmosphere, and the air was crisp, and croissant appeared magically (there’s an early rising, attention deficit, willing-to-drive-to-the-bakery Californian in every crowd) each morning, plated by 8am. So, hey, who’s complaining, really.
This “amazing cuss” of a woman knows more about the exhausting world of social media
and how to work it than a lunchroom full of teenage girls.
And then another woodwork woman, a writing coach with whom I’m working, we skype, she teaches, I bask in the excitement of her budding, self-driven, clear sighted, promising career. Her smile, the outward proof of a sincere and positive light blooming inside her, says it all. She’ll succeed.
She’s about to learn social media the quick and swift way, and it’ll probably spin her head big time, leave her overly-organized self breathless, when she bravely dons her producer hat this month at Cannes and takes her ideas, and the company she runs with a friend, SPARKLIGHT, viral on Twitter… reporting on a movie she’s repping; on one in post production she hopes film festivals will pick up; on a project idea for which she needs backers; and even on a SPARKLIGHT film to be shown in the Cannes Short Film Corner, “Get Low.”
So back to me. It’s May. Winter’s long forgotten. I could go on and on about the women converging near me now, about this flood of springtime excitement. I’ll instead point directly to the link, above, and suggest, “Ain’t it great there’s festivals and sich fer ladies to stretch their muscles, since if there weren’t, they’d shore be rustling’ some up right fast and probably creating quite the stir. Woman underutilized, left below the surface, scorned, as it were, ‘n all…”
Or, more sedately said, “Let’s open our cumulative eyes to what’s around us and realize there’s so much of value being offered by women, as they bloom, and bloom, are encouraged to bloom.”
April 12, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Here is a blog post from a friendly industry insider which discusses questions that came up last night during a tweet fest he sponsored. In clear, objective English, Scott outlines how he thinks the question of women in screenwriting should “go” in his live twitter conversation among strangers. Please have a read.
This article is enlightening regarding women in the industry beyond the immediate date and event to which it refers. Also, it is very revealing of Mr. Myers.
What’s my take-away? Scott Myers is okay to feature on a woman-centric blog.
He’s been extremely “tweet-kind” when I’ve interacted with him on the basically blind format of Twitter. And he is right on top of topics even before they actually get hot. Hm. A hotness predictor? Useful sorta guy.
Hey, shout-out to all of you who did enter the Nicholl contest, sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to “identify and encourage talented new screenwriters.”
One in four of the entrants this year was a woman. Have a read:
April 8, 2013 § 1 Comment
Okay, so MyHusbandHe thought it’d be hysterical if I actually posted something on this woman centric blog about the testosterone ridden, overweight actors legs splayed, psycho-bowling, viscerally disgusting, hysterical movie from the auspicious year anno domini 1998, THE BIG LEBOWSKI. God help us. Here goes.
I love it. And it passes the “okay to promote on a women’s issues blog” with one simple line. Jeff Bridges tells the Malibu cop, who just berated him for being, well, himself, “the Dude” (yes, that’s his name), that:
“They treat objects like women here, man.”
He’s hung over. He’s just been knocked out of his chair. He really means what we want him to mean (“treat women like objects.”) Just lots of times he can’t get things out right at first. Even a loser like the Dude gets that women are an important 51%. Bravo, you Coen brother writer guys who wrote him (Ethan Coen and Joel Coen.) “They” in the quote, btw, is the cop’s constituency, high rent Malibu bad guys he protects.
Um, before I go on, fair warning. DON’T watch the movie if you DON’T like THE “F” WORD.
But if you can handle it, that staple and creatively overused expletive in some men’s vocabularies- you know, like saying “like” if you’re under eighteen, like ad nauseum, like even when, like your parents beg you not to- what the f—k, go ahead. Pull up your big girl panties and enjoy the f–king film. It’s THE F—KING BEST of guys poking fun at guyness; a great thing to study from a safe, female perspective; a convulsively humorous thing to watch. It’s all so WRONG, and, to rip off from the Eagles, whom the Dude, incidentally, hates, “it feels so right.” That’s the Eagles, isn’t it?
He prefers Credence. And cars with bungie cords holding up the front bumpers. And puts out burning roaches with bad beer. And really only wants his oriental rug back. When the bad guys take it.
This movie does not demean women, by thuh way. REALLY. No kidding. It’s just a guy flick that would go well mixed with John Wayne re-runs and ANCHORMAN. It lumbers along like a bunch of cattle on the range, steady, deliberately, aimlessly, lots of “what the f—k” moments, male bonding over a buddie’s ashes, and ends as it should, reaffirming manhood’s grassroots status quo. A belly at the bar, a cold sasparilla, a great cowboy hat and, in Dude’s case, a rug on his extremely disgusting bachelor pad floor. Presto, life’s as good as it gets.
God I love that.
And the best part? Julianne Moore.
Whose word of choice is “vagina”! She pays for a full physical on the Dude before she studs him out- to herself. She’s the only character in the movie with any sense. She plays Maude (as if ANYONE would really name her Maude), an heiress artist with attitude, blue blood so thin she can barely comprehend Dude’s slang, and a lusty relationship with exhibitionism. She’s that girl nobody’s mom wants brought home and the one all of us would enjoy being at least once.
Plus, she’s just cool. I’m biased.
But not about the f—king movie. It’s great.
Watch it. And get back to me if you honestly find, honestly now, ladies, remember your senses of humor, if you honestly find anything so offensive in THE BIG LEBOWSKI’s portrayals of women (the few in the flick) that aren’t WAAAAAAY outweighed by the fun the Coens poke at dudes.