Hollywoodus Interruptus Please
white men produce, direct or star in almost 100% of the entire world’s entertainment media.
Of the top 250 US released movies in 2018, 92% of the directors were Men.
In almost 100 years, only one woman has won an Academy Award for Best Director and only six black male directors have been nominated.
Of the top 100 grossing films of 2017, Male leads received 2x as much screen time as Female leads.
In This Changes Everything, a documentary released August 2019 by Director Tom Donahue/Creative Chaos, these plus plenty more gob-smacking statistics are revealed.
Turns out Hollywood was, and still is, the worst Title 7 violator of any industry in the US, even the coal-mining industry does better. Title 7 was designed to secure Equal Employment Opportunity for women and people of color, put into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.
Turns out Title 7 is just an illusion especially in Hollywood, the leading maker of illusion.
How do we know for sure? Because never before gathered research, along with personal experience accounting by many in the industry now stand as the proof. This pain staking enterprise was initiated by Geena Davis, Founder and Chair of the Institute on Gender in Media because she wanted her children to grow up in a world where they all saw themselves well-reflected on screen. When approached by Donahue, she gladly signed on as an executive producer, as well as film narrator inviting us to consider that:
And if 92% of the theatrical release movies, tv series and product commercials are written, produced and directed by White Men, then our daily experience and resulting culture must be in extreme imbalance in terms of representing who we are as a collective.
That men have dominated the production of all consumed media, not to mention all high-level decision-making across all of our social institutions to date, is not a ground breaking insight. What is compelling is the breadth of hard data points revealed in this film about the movie-making industry that helps us visualize that domination so clearly —not only in the numbers but also the protocol that secures the imbalance generation after generation— secures the implicit, unchallenged ‘good ole boy’ cultural norm of favoring men for positions both on and behind the screen .
Because this construct has remained unsuccessfully challenged since movie-making adopted sound in the late 1920’s, none of us for the most part are even aware of how deeply we’re shaped by this BIAS. We don’t detect how we’re editing and defining our identities, based upon growing up with the bulk of our society’s storytelling conveyed through ONLY a man’s perspective.
So engrained by this viewpoint are men, women, children and people of all colors and sexualities from a very young age, we cannot even possibly begin to point to ‘IT’ because ‘IT’ comprises our holistic social ether.
So the Male Gaze, continues to inform each of our sacred, very nascent, self-constructions, galvanizing our Destiny, as Individuals and ere go our Society.
Perhaps then, if we do look out and see some things not exactly working for us at the current moment -men included- it might be time to consider Telling Stories through the Gaze of Another Societal Constituency?
Enter the Geena Davis Inclusion Quotient (GD-IQ), a ground breaking software tool developed by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media at Mount Saint Mary’s University to analyze audio and video media content. Funded by Google.org and incorporating Google’s machine learning technology, and the University of Southern California’s audio-visual processing technologies, GD-IQ is the only software tool in existence with the ability to measure screen and speaking time through the use of automation.
To date, most research investigations of media representations have been done manually. The GD-IQ revolutionizes this approach by using automated analysis of media content with a precision that is not possible with the human eye or ear. It makes it possible for researchers to quickly analyze massive amounts of data, which allows findings to be reported in real time.
Developed to more accurately measure gender representation in film, it reveals female characters continue to be unrepresented in popular film, and when they are present, they have far less screen time and speaking time. To truly address gender inequity, female characters need to be seen and heard as often as their male counterparts.
Davis herself made the decision to work against bias after she did Thelma & Louise in 1991. “I was profoundly impacted by the reaction of people seeing the movie,” she says. “It made me realize, in a profound way, how few opportunities we give women to come out of a movie theater feeling inspired and empowered by this female character. And it’s the best part of a movie, really, identifying with a character and living vicariously through them. Men get to experience that every time they watch a movie, but women not so much. So then I decided I was always going to keep in mind, when making choices, ‘What are the women in the audience going to think of my character?’ Not that I wanted to play role models, but I wanted to play characters who are in charge of their own fate.”
“The thing is, representation in entertainment does actually matter in the real world,” Donahue believes. “It’s funny. I’ve been a feminist since 10-years-old, in a very right-wing family, because television showed me another way —through a show called MASH and this guy named Alan Alda. So here’s my hero calling himself a feminist —a bad word in my house. I learned through him about the equal rights amendment, about Gloria Steinem, Marlo Thomas and Mary Tyler Moore. I learned about being a feminist through the activism of a man. I feel it’s my duty. And hopefully, young boys will see that a male-directed this and think they can do this too.”
In 2017, Female-Led films made 38% more money at the box-office than Male-Led films.
In 2012, when Brave & the Hunger Games came out, girls enrolling in archery classes shot up 105%.
Due to the huge success of the two tv series NCIS & CSI, featuring female forensic scientists, the industry is now dominated by women in real life.
#culturalimpact #cultureinnovation #socialimpact #socialinnovation #metoo #timesup #acntbl #lifeimitatesart
I am a UX, Brand & Cultural Consultant anchored in leading multi-discipline business stakeholders or agency teams in creating commercial success through the adoption of big ideas supported by compelling experiences that spark discovery, connection & deeper relationships between people.