Tuesday News: Women in Hollywood, the ‘woman writer,’ legal threat over “I Am Jazz,” and a Book-O-Mat
The Women of Hollywood Speak Out – As much as we talk about the respect problem for female authors, there seems to be an interesting comparison (or contrast?) to make with women in Hollywood, who are being paid less than their male counterparts and who continue to struggle to make up ground that is stubbornly and still being lost. The success of female-led and helmed films is treated as anomalous, and the sexism is so overt that agents have no problem telling women that they won’t be hired for a directing job because a studio will only hire a man. And all this despite (or perhaps because?) women are an influential consumer group when it comes to spending their money on female-led projects. Go figure.
But the most wildly lopsided numbers have to do with who is behind the lens. In both 2013 and 2014, women were only 1.9 percent of the directors for the 100 top-grossing films. Excluding their art-house divisions, the six major studios released only three movies last year with a female director. It’s hard to believe the number could drop to zero, but the statistics suggest female directors are slipping backward. Prof. Martha Lauzen of San Diego State University reports that in 2014, 95 percent of cinematographers, 89 percent of screenwriters, 82 percent of editors, 81 percent of executive producers and 77 percent of producers were men. . . .
The more I talked to people, the clearer it became that if the luminous Hollywood of my childhood was obliterated for good, it all started with ‘‘Jaws’’ in the summer of 1975, which would devour half a billion dollars at the box office. America fell in love with the blockbuster, and Hollywood got hooked on the cohort of 15-year-old boys. It has never wavered in this obsession, even though girls and women buy half the movie tickets and watch more TV series, and even though teenage boys are increasingly fixated on gaming. – New York Times
On Pandering – While Maureen Dowd’s profile of women in Hollywood largely focused on the corporate apparatuses that continue to privilege men, this fantastic piece by Claire Vaye Watkins focuses more on the ways in which women are socialized to seek the approval of men, especially powerful white men, who continue to represent The Power of Social Institutions in Western societies, particularly. Watkins talks about the way girls are, early on, encourage to “watch boys do stuff,” and to regard male voices with more authority and importance than the voices of women. She tells a story about an encounter with The Rumpus‘s Stephen Elliott, who spends time with her and another writer, Kyle Minor, later reducing Watkins to “a girl” he met and flirted with, only acknowledging Minor by name and profession as a writer. It’s a problem with several layers, because the power of institutions becomes internalized (we are taught to recognize and respect ‘authority’), conditioning us to defer to that authority on a personal level without even recognizing that we’re doing it. By talking about it, Watkins says, we can better recognize these patterns and work toward changing them.
Myself, I have been writing to impress old white men. Countless decisions I’ve made about what to write and how to write it have been in acquiescence to the opinions of the white male literati. Not only acquiescence but a beseeching, approval seeking, people pleasing. . . .
I am talking about this reading I gave in Montana in the fall when it was so beautiful I almost never went home, where a late-middle-aged white cowboy—let’s call him the Old Sumbitch—waited in my signing line, among the brown-haired girls with glasses, and when he got to me said, “I usually don’t read stuff like this but Tom McGuane said you were all right.” I am talking about being at once grateful for the friendship and encouragement offered me by Tom McGuane but also angry and exhausted by the fact that I need it. The Old Sumbitch would not have read me if Tom hadn’t said I was all right. I am hiding under Tom’s invisible cloak of male privilege. At issue is not Tom McGuane or Lee K. Abbott or Jeffrey Eugenides or Christopher Coake or Chang-Rae Lee, all of whom have offered me guidance and friendship for which I’m tremendously grateful. But why should their voices be louder in my head than that of Karen Russell, a beyond generous certified genius and, with any luck, my future sister-wife? Why should they be louder than Antonya Nelson, who wrote the most illuminating review of Battleborn I’ve ever read? Why should they be louder than Erin McGraw, who read Battleborn in its every incarnation, who taught me how to get a job and keep it, who’s written me about a hundred letters of recommendation and done everything short of hand me this microphone today? – Tin House
School Threatened With Lawsuit for Reading Book to Kids – So a Wisconsin elementary school is facing threats of legal action because the school planned on reading I Am Jazz to its students, in the hopes of, you know, educating them about issues related to gender identity. Anyway, the book reading issue is being cast as a civil rights issue — for the people who generally hold most of the rights and power to begin with.
The Florida-based Liberty Counsel group threatened to sue, saying it was contacted by concerned parents. In a letter to the school district, the group contended that reading the book would violate parental rights.
In its statement Wednesday, the district said as it seeks to address the needs of the individual student, it will be mindful of the needs of other students and families. It also said families whose children may be affected will be notified of future actions, and the goal is to protect all students from bullying so they can learn together in a safe environment. – Yahoo Parenting
Book-O-Mat, Hillsboro Public Library’s automated book kiosk, to debut at Civic Center Plaza – Anyone have one of these in their town? Although we’ve seen them pretty regularly for movie rentals, I haven’t actually seen one for library materials. What a great way to get people to use the library without having to actually travel to the library.
This kiosk–the first of its kind in Oregon—is stocked with bestsellers and movies for checkout. . . .
The Book-O-Mat is currently loaded with about 200 items; library staff will continue to add selections and rotate the collection periodically to bring in fresh materials, which will focus on new and popular materials for adults and children. – Oregon Live