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 § 1 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.
March 3, 2013 § Leave a comment
Three Septembers ago, at the Vancouver Peace Summit, the Dalai Lama not only called himself a feminist but also expressed his opinion that “Western women will save the world.”
I’ve read much online, posted since then, folks struggling to figure out what he must have meant.
A little like Monty Python’s LIFE OF BRIAN when Brian’s followers can’t figure out how best to honor his shoes (?) or follow him (?) or argue the merits of his…(?)
We in the West are so very FREE. We enjoy FREEDOMS that allow us, as women, to wonder out loud over anything we want to wonder over. We can WANT to save the world, and debate creating icons or pilgrimages or even public forums, as we work to save the world. We can literally go places and do things that seem to move world saving forward. And we can vote in or out of office leaders who block what we consider best for our world.
We Western women are, arguably, the most politically free of all the world’s women, which is saying something, and the most likely to be strategically ready to save the world.
So, let’s go already, right? Show me how, I’m there. Hooray egomaniacal Western cowgirl, go!!! Yeah, right.
But wait. It was the DALAI LAMA who said this, not an inside-the-beltway talking head or a Hollywood spin doctor or a tabloid psychic.
And he mentioned, also, that it was his mother from whom he inherited his “prodigious compassion.” Okay, now you’ve used the “m” word. We’re listening.
When the “DL” has a suspicion, I personally listen. His suspicions, opinions, whatever you need to call them, hold much more credence with me than any of the nuts and bolts of strategy or the whims of political machines or even the constitutional guarantee of freedoms we enjoy here in the West.
He has literally led millions of people, and their hearts, to turn inside and become better, more. Let’s give him a minute, then.
In the brief personal glance I shared with him recently, in passing, a nod, a stare, my hands at my heart in prayer for some larger-than-my-Protestant-self mystical reason (I genuflect to no one), I felt “where” it is possible that we Western women can go in order to truly save the world.
It is not that we are Western and therefore uniquely qualified to “go there.” It is that we are free to do two things necessary to begin saving the world.
First, we ARE free. Politically, legally. And most of us have lived under progressive enough circumstances that we KNOW ourselves as free. Very young women may even have to google “glass ceiling” and “bra burning” to understand what the fuss was all about one day. This is wonderful. The younger we are, the freer we know ourselves to be.
Which brings me to my Second necessary thing.
We don’t need to want to save the world. We need to come, “where?” To know ourselves. To know and accept our own specific feminine prodigious capacities for understanding aberrance and expressing compassion towards it. We need to BE who we are inside. Be that mother who inspired the DALAI LAMA towards his own compassion.
And then we can rejoice in our great Western woman freedoms and go out and embrace our DALAI LAMA child that is the world and inspire it, overwhelm it if need be, as only mothers can, in great big hugs of loving wonder and fingers wagged gently at naughty behavior and voices raised firm and true when things need correcting now, not later, young man.
Katherine Bigelow’s “depiction does not equal endorsement” point- in reference to her ZERO DARK THIRTY; my gut revolting over the hatred palpable on the screen in ARGO mob scenes- particularly the faces of the women; the underlying violence in Angelina Jolie’s SALT, full of slapping around women and men and political tension- we can watch, but not be that.
We need to be “in the West but not of it.”
What we as women are is bigger. Have we gone deep enough inside to know it?
The DL thinks we can, and will.
I’m watching for evidence in the film industry, sometimes the first line of defense when a thought needs promoting. I’m hoping to find films, directors, writers who HAVE gone deep into that woman we in the West are free to be. Who let her out, in story-line, promos, even in the walks they walk as public or not so public figures.
My brief glimpses of the DALAI LAMA will hold me the rest of my life. And if someone as serene and as influential on the world stage as he is thinks Western women will save the world, well, that’s a gauntlet thrown I’m not going to ignore.
And, to the degree I can influence other women not to ignore it either, I will.