March 11, 2014

"We think of Hollywood as a very progressive place and a bastion of liberal thought."

"But when you look at the numbers and the representation of women onscreen, that’s absolutely not the case. The film industry does not like change."

Film — to the extent that it's an "industry" — likes money. Does it have political beliefs? I thought the "progressive" belief was that corporate entities lack minds and souls and can have no beliefs, so the moment you say "film industry," your concept collapses on itself.

But let's assume these groups of people acting together within corporations really do have political, moral, philosophical, and religious beliefs. Let's get more detail about what those beliefs really are. These corporate entities may relatively successfully brand themselves as more or less liberal and progressive, but that doesn't mean that they really are and maybe they don't even want to be.

Pressure groups — like the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, quoted in the linked NYT article — can mess with the branding. And moviegoers can vote with their ticket-buying for more woman-centered flicks. But that all keys into profit-seeking, not anything genuinely liberal.

But it's fun to watch from a distance when those who pose as liberals are tweaked by those who stand to their left.


JMS said...

Maybe progressive and liberal don't mean what the author thinks they do.

RecChief said...

Any organization takes on the qualities of the people it is comprised of. Heck, you see differences in institutional culture between Brigades in the same Division.

As an outsider looking in, it seems there is quite a bit of "cross pollinization" now as opposed to the old studio system. One would expect that many of the people who work in that industry would be exposed at one time or another to the ideas and values of most of the big names. It's still a relatively small pool. And my suspicion is that many of the film school grads had teachers who shared, to one degree or another, the ideology.

EDH said...

Chicks Nix Dicks Pix

STICKS NIX HICK PIX was a headline printed in Variety, a newspaper covering Hollywood and the entertainment industry, on July 17, 1935, over an article about the reaction of rural audiences to movies about rural life. It is one of the most famous headlines ever to appear in an American publication.

Using a form of headlinese that the newspaper called slanguage, "Sticks Nix Hick Pix" means that people in rural areas ("the sticks") reject ("nix") motion pictures ("pix") about rural life ("hicks"). The conventional wisdom of the movie industry was that themes of upper-class life would not be popular in the countryside; according to the article, this assumption was incorrect.

Pogo is Dead said...

"Cate Blanchett: “Audiences want to see [female films with women at the center]. And in fact they earn money.”"

G-rated films make money as well. But that's not what gets made.

In 2012, "Dove - which provides online movie and video reviews - found that of the top 1,000 films released between 2005 and 2009, Hollywood produced "11 times as many R films as G.

G-rated films showed an average profit of $108.5 million, PG came in at $65.5 million, PG-13 films earned $59.7 million and R-rated films averaged just $12.7 million.

So it's not just money that drives things.

Shouting Thomas said...

The film industry does not like change.

Evidently, the film industry does not like the change these ladies want it to like.

If you want input into the content of films, ladies, put your money into financing and producing films.

Otherwise, shut up... it's none of your biz.

Matthew Sablan said...

Honestly, I don't watch a lot of movies, but I thought that there were more women in leading/active roles than in the past.

LakeLevel said...

All the roles that might go to a woman as an alternative to a man are going to black men. Will Smith, Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman et. al. are taking all the affirmative action roles. Sorry ladies but in the Democrat Party, and thus Hollywood, your group doesn't get first consideration.

The Cracker Emcee said...

I confess that I used to play the Leftist moby quite a bit over at Democratic Underground. College, my stint as a union organizer, and years of reading about the Old Left and the early Labor movement, made it easy to ape the mindset of the hardcore Leftist and allowed me to dump on DU's liberals without getting banned. They didn't dare push back against those of greater ideological purity. A frivolous pursuit, but always amusing.

Peter said...

"Film — to the extent that it's an "industry" — likes money."

In theory, all corporations are profit-maximizing entities.

Yet just as consumers are not perfect utility-maximizing entities, businesses, too, are seldom perfect profit-maximizing entities. Both consumers and businesses make (from an economics PoV) non-rational choices. Even when this results in less than maximum profit or utility.

Perhaps if there were perfect competition then businesses would be forced to be perfect profit-maximizing entities, but, that's seldom the case.

So, to say an industry "likes money" is true. BUT that is not necessarily all it likes. It may well be pulled this way or that by the political considerations of those in position to influence its output.

Patrick O said...

People assume other people are like them, and so seek to protect other people from other people like them. While making sure people aren't protected from them, themselves.

Hollywood sets itself up as the new royalty, or rather the new ecclesiastics, moralizing from one side, profiting from the other.

betamax3000 said...

Comedy Stage Open Mic Night Comic says:

I have to admit, I don't watch many Hollywood movies anymore. Everything's robots and monsters and CGI, Zing, Zang, Zoom, Crash: I watched "The Avengers" and couldn't even masturbate to Scarlett Johansson, she moved too fast (laughter). Let's face it, there are many of us who -- when hearing that Scarlett has a new movie coming out -- think two things: 'is this one where she receives an Oscar nomination?' -- and -- 'is this the one where she is finally naked?' (laughter). Actually, I'm really not too concerned with the Oscars part (laughter), let Meryl Streep have it, I'm good with that (laughter).

Is it me, or do all the young actresses have 'baby doll' voices nowadays? Now, I say this as someone who usually watches women in film with the sound off (laughter). Look, I'll pretend to take you seriously if you pretend to believe that nudity is essential for the role (laughter). My advice to all the young actresses in Hollywood: you have an entire career in which to Act, but you won't be this hot forever; priorities, ladies, priorities (laughter), you can pretend to be Meryl Streep later (laughter). Anyway, if Scarlett wants to play a nuclear physicist by all means giver her the part, but nuclear physicists take showers, too (laughter). Thank you, you've been very kind...

Patrick O said...

Speaking of Hollywood, we need an American Idol post.

Emily got booted. There were at least 4 performers objectively worse than her (worse singers, worse performers). She wasn't one of my favorites but she was definitely better than others who slipped by (and didn't even get into the bottom 3).

William said...

I think Hollywood is so invested in anti-capitalism because they think capitalism works the way Hollywood works. Hardly. Cliff Robertson's career took a nosedive when he reported that a studio head was embezzling his paycheck. The studio head prospered. Is there any other industry where a guy with Woody Allen's history would be given a lifetime achievement award?

William said...

I saw the recent Hunger Games movie. It was a chick flick masquerading as an action movie. It was very good. I liked the part where they weaponized the wedding dress......They should make more movies starring Jennifer Lawrence. Then they wouldn't have this gender gap.

mccullough said...

The budget for women-centered films would have to be lower so the movies could make more profit. Woody Allen's films make money because the actors don't get paid much.

If you want women type films to make a lot of money, you need action. The hunger games movies are doing well.

Come up with a female James Bond/Jason Bourne type flick with a good-looking woman who can handle herself and it would do well.

But no one is going to spend $100 million budget on a Jane Austen flick.

Michael K said...

" I thought that there were more women in leading/active roles than in the past."

The great Hollywood era of chick flicks was the 1940s. The careers of Barbara Stanwyck, for example, had a long successful career before she made a TV series that is most remembered by the young.

Ditto for Joan Crawford, who is remembered for an angry biography by an angry adopted daughter.

The same applies to many other female actresses of that era who are forgotten. Their movies were popular with women who went to movies in large numbers in the 1930s.

There are nothing like the roles for women that there were then.

Revenant said...

G-rated films make money as well. But that's not what gets made.

There are probably more high-quality kids' films coming out today than probably ever before.

Also, you're overlooking the direct-to-video market -- a lot of kids' films go that route, because parents don't like lugging a bunch of rug rats to the theater.

Pogo is Dead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pogo is Dead said...

From Boston Globe 7/2013:
>"G-rated films, long considered the safest for young children, are a lot harder to find these days. From 1995 to 2010, a typical year saw 15 to 20 G-rated films released and shown. But in two of the past three years there were just nine G movies.

And this year? More than 250 feature films have been released, and so far only one — “Monsters University” — is G-rated.

Film industry experts say studios are aggressively steering G audiences to the more lucrative PG movies.

Even though they're no more lucrative.

Matthew Sablan said...

"Is there any other industry where a guy with Woody Allen's history would be given a lifetime achievement award?"

-- Assuming the allegations are true, there's always politics.

Andy Freeman said...

> Come up with a female James Bond/Jason Bourne type flick with a good-looking woman who can handle herself and it would do well.

There are several Angelina Jolie movies that qualify (Tomb Raider and its sequels, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and some others).

However, Halle Berry couldn't pull it off after a good intro in a bond flick.

Matthew Sablan said...

"> Come up with a female James Bond/Jason Bourne type flick with a good-looking woman who can handle herself and it would do well."

-- Isn't that what they're trying with The Hunger Games?

Michael said...

Hollywood is a place full of ultraliberals who make cop movies that are borderline fascist.

Big Mike said...

Come up with a female James Bond/Jason Bourne type flick with a good-looking woman who can handle herself and it would do well.

Modesty Blaise is a "female James Bond/Jason Bourne" character, the center a over 10,000 comics and two dozen books. They tried twice (plus a TV pilot) to put Modesty on the screen, with zero point zero zero success.

Bandit said...

Hunger Games?

Joe said...

The problem with the G-Rated movies make more money trope is that it is looking at averages where a small number of insanely profitable (and mostly Disney made) movies (from 1988 to 1997) drive the average way up.

Interestingly, in 2010, a BYU study found that PG movies made the most money.

Of course, all of this ignores the fact that most movies barely make any money. It's a very marginal business with the hope that you'll have a few blockbusters a year (which is due, in part, to the huge costs of marketing and distribution, but also due to the increased competition from TV, streaming and otherwise, and video games.)

furious_a said...

Sigourney Weaver had a good run as Ripley.

furious_a said...

There are nothing like the roles for women that there were then.

There isn't the Studio contract system anymore, where a Studio would make a long-term investment in a actor or actress and find roles for them.

Freeman Hunt said...

If you want to see more women in movies, then make movies with women in them. Don't expect other artists to alter their own art to suit your agenda.

Freeman Hunt said...

"Painters aren't painting enough women! Someone tell painters to start painting women right away!"

"Writers don't write about women enough. Tell all those writers to start writing novels with women in them!"