I’ve been percolating a post about animation and how the basic plot types all fit into that world (with added bonuses of some fantastic development treatments for animated films that have succeeded) plus the last in the series of it’s a small world…
But some zeitgeist buzz has turned up the volume and I sit at the keyboard compelled to chime in on a very contentious issue – especially in the film world.
The gist is, women can’t get a break – Hollywood hates ‘em, the world doesn’t understand them (yet ironically wouldn’t exist without them).
It is a given — no matter if you live in Manhattan, L.A., London, Afghanistan, or Idaho – a strong woman is a crazy bitch and a strong man is respected leader.
There’s the Bechdel test, the statistics, the glass ceilings that are lower for the childbearing sex, the lack of award nominations, and the scapegoat blame it on the super-hero franchises, etc., etc.
As far as accolades go, I thought this article was very interesting on Disney’s Frozen and how this hit isn’t so female friendly afterall. Albeit, a script written by a great FEMALE SCREENWRITER, I’m happy they have a hit – but I have to say my immediate impression was that it was made to expand to Broadway and that’s just what it will do. Marketing at Disney decides the fate of the films – Rapunzel becomes Tangled to appeal to boys and THE SNOW QUEEN becomes FROZEN. But I’m getting too much into my stop the presses story on animation…
I get and greatly respect the Bechdel test. But it’s not the answer. Do we need, want and deserve to have stories in our lives where women are not hinging their every move and whim on a man? – NO DOUBT.
Can females run the world without a dick in their back? – NO DOUBT.
Do we want stories that have no love (opposite sex or same) – I DOUBT IT.
To be human is to learn how to love at different levels; the love of a friend, a pet, a parent, a stranger, an all-consuming sexual partner, ourselves. So to say a film has to meet a standard where women have to talk to each other about something other than men is a bit vague. I hereby proclaim a better test:
1) Are there females in it whose lives aren’t hinging on the approval of a man. There is no 2 or 3. If your story has a female that we are to share time with – does her journey rely on a man for success – or can she succeed by her own personality and determination? That is a true test and one that is universally identifiable.
My dear friend (and all male) RB at Stage 32 is a huge supporter (and lover) of what he calls the fairer sex and this week he added to his extensive blog some insightful musings on the latest buzz. This weekend’s blog has many links that all touch on this is as major issue.
Perhaps the one that prompted me to stop the presses on my own endeavors was the one ‘what’s so unlikeable about likeable women’. It is itself an inspired retort to a compilation of other women chiming in on how to write female characters. It was the line ‘…Women who are one-dimensionally strong, crazy, or cool but never all three.’ that really boiled my lady balls – because at the core, I proudly say I am all three and I feel sorry for women who aren’t. The article goes on to make some great points – I think the term ‘unlikeable’ is really what raised my hairs. I’d be happier with a term like non-traditional or non-conforming, which is what the article really highlights.
The article closes with a great summary:
Likability is not some fixed characteristic as perceptible to everyone as brown hair. In her piece on the importance of unlikable heroines, Gay says, “I am often drawn to unlikable characters, to those who behave in socially unacceptable ways and say whatever is on their mind and do what they want with varying levels of regard for the consequences,” which is another way of saying that she saw Mavis Gary and Amy Dunne, unlikable though they may be, and she liked them. We may not be here to make friends, but, often, we do anyway.
When I worked at Disney and our crews were our families for 4 years at a time or more – we learned a lot about each other – fears, desires, how to let loose, how to deal with stress from the family we never saw because we were making a lot of money for them doing what we loved – I remember a great friend of mine’s wife saying to me at a late night drinking session: ‘you are so cool, if [my husband] were to ever have an affair – I’d want it to be with you’, that and heads of the studio calling down at me across an atrium filled with people ‘that I was a dangerous woman’. I took these sentiments and many others as compliments – while others a bit more catty and domesticated took them and scurried into a gossip-laden gaggle.
So, needless to say I have really thick skin that I am confident in and I have no patience for gossip.
Has it hurt me in my career? Absolutely. Why? Because I don’t care to be a part of superficial coffee talk.
Has it stopped me? No fucking way.
Has it helped me? Who knows? But what I do know is it is who I am and who I am shapes my stories, my sensibilities, my business acumen, and most of all it has gotten me where I am – which is a very good place. And that is what matters, male or female, gay or straight – humans just want and need to be in a good place and in turn they help others do the same. That is humanity and that is what matters.
The other news heavy in the air, elaborates on how women aren’t getting roles – they aren’t getting nominated and even roles of the crew aspect of filmmaking from director to everything below the line is severely being shortchanged for women….
I’m in no way a gender expert, but I can say I love and adore men, not just for the obvious reasons but because they are more immediately inclined not to whine and gossip about shit that won’t help them advance. I mean that in a very broad way – I know tons of extremely brilliant women who can cut through crap faster than a ninja pig farmer.
I think for women on set, it is grueling because everyone needs a mother on set. Days are long, you get hungry, you have to pee, you need 30 seconds of peace. Men inherently do all the above without permission or approval — women don’t and that’s their own conditioning.
For me, in work and in love, it’s not about men or women it’s about humans. All in all, as a race we are insane, but as you hone in and pair up (or create your crew) you find the ones the feel right and you won’t mind spending some (a lot) of time with and life becomes good. So you are comfortable enough to go for what you need at any given moment. And that is what matters.
Ladies, strap on those balls — you’ve got ’em, you just need to get comfortable wearing them. Quit complaining about why men that run ‘the system’ (and I mean any system that defines your world) don’t want you to: succeed/do it/ win/ create/love/rise above/beat them/have fun, and just fucking do it all.
Women bring men into this world and, as any good momma will tell you, they can take them out – but seriously – why would you?
“You see a lot of smart guys with dumb women, but you hardly ever see a smart woman with a dumb guy.”
– Erica Jong
But why not have some fun with it…
“God gave women intuition and femininity. Used properly, the combination easily jumbles the brain of any man I’ve ever met.”
– Farrah Fawcett