Signal boosting against sexism in entertainment
May 22, 2016
I read something this week that made me think, that’s enough of this crap, I need to blog about this. As a man and a creative I feel obligated and honored to boost the signal on the recent evidence of just how sexist our entertainment industrial complex is. On top of general, unacceptable pay inequality, there is a string of abuses that need to be exposed to the searing light of the sun. So I’m following what I’ll call Stewart’s Law of Privilege for Progress.
- What set me off recently: the female villain in Iron Man 3 was turned into a man, according to the director. The director and screenwriters wanted a couple of women to have prominent roles, but Isaac Perlmutter, CEO of Marvel Entertainment, nixed the villain idea and they had to scale back how much women were on screen. Thank the heavenly mother that Perlmutter is moving out of the picture at Marvel. (Too slowly, but maybe exposing this crap will hurry up his exit.)
- The lack of female characters in sci fi and superhero stories, toys, movies, etc. Black Widow is the kick-butt female Avenger, but was replaced in Avengers toys that depicted her exploits in the film. This kind of thing is not an accident or unconscious bias: it’s a deliberate corporate directive.
- Unequal pay for female actresses (against which Robin Wright and Jennifer Lawrence have fought back publicly)
Why am I focusing on the cultural stuff? I know there is tons more sexism going on in every single walk of life, and this year it seems to be rearing to the fore in the ugliest of ways. And I know I have only barely grazed the tip of the iceberg in entertainment (lack of women in directing and producing, treatment of female characters, treatment of female cast and crew, etc.) Because this particular angle of sexism is primarily responsible for forming/reinforcing/shaping our entire society’s attitudes toward girls and women. The cultural stuff has a much bigger multiplier effect and it is more sensitive to be smacked down by people inside and outside the industry. I think that striking a blow against it on this issue will help in every other arena.
I want to lend my voice to those saying that this crap really does happen, it should not, and to applaud those on the front lines of fighting it.