Fighting Against Sexism, Homophobia, Racism, and Ageism on our Screens

So many things need to be changed in the way women, LGBT people,  people of color, and the old are depicted on our screens, it sometimes seems overwhelming. After Drea’s guest post from last week, this seemed a good time to mention some leaders fighting to change the dismal facts of the situation in our culture. I want to highlight and honor some of them for their efforts. Continue reading “Fighting Against Sexism, Homophobia, Racism, and Ageism on our Screens”

Lifetime’s Broad Focus is Great News

Lifetime TV is behind an initiative called Broad Focus (what a pun!) that aims to put more women in creative positions behind the camera as directors, producers, writers, and content developers.

Here’s the announcement video.

Lifetime couldn’t be a more logical network to lead the way on this. It has an audience of women who are hungry for more great content by and about women. I applaud the idea and hope we see some great creative work on Lifetime as a result.

One of the first announcements from the Broad Focus initiative is a partnership with Geena Davis’ Bentonville Film Festival. The Bentonville Festival showcases female and diverse filmmakers and guarantees distribution to winning films. The partnership makes Lifetime TV the Festival’s exclusive cable partner. At least one of the winning films from the Bentonville Film Festival will air on Lifetime, plus one of the winners from the festival’s script contest will be developed for Lifetime.

Women are taking control of producing, directing, and the entire creative process in numerous ways. I’m always happy to hear about these efforts and new organizations and initiatives surrounding them. I support and applaud them all.

International Study on Gender Images in Global Films

In a press release on September 22, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, UN Women and The Rockefeller Foundation presented an international study on gender images in global films. There was a press conference to share the information from the study.

UN Women Releases Global Study on Women Characters in Film with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and The Rockefeller Foundation

Geena Davis spoke at the press conference. She said,

The fact is – women are seriously under-represented across nearly all sectors of society around the globe, not just on-screen, but for the most part we’re simply not aware of the extent. And media images exert a powerful influence in creating and perpetuating our unconscious biases.

Here are some of the key findings. The information is also available in an Infographic, which I put in a separate post because it’s large.

  • less than one third of all speaking characters in film are female.
  • less than a quarter of the fictional on-screen workforce is comprised of women
  • female characters are largely absent from powerful positions
  • women characters represent less than 15 per cent of business executives, political figures, or science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) employees
  • male characters outnumber female characters as attorneys and judges (13 to 1), professors (16 to 1), and doctors (5 to 1)
  • girls and women were over twice as likely as boys and men to be shown in sexualized attire or with some nudity
  • females are missing in action films, being only 23 per cent of speaking characters in this genre
  • films with a female director or female writer had more girls and women on-screen than did those without a female director or writer

If She Can See It, She Can Be It

Speaking at the press conference, Geena Davis said,

. . . media images can also have a very positive impact on our perceptions. In the time it takes to make a movie, we can change what the future looks like. There are woefully few women CEOs in the world, but there can be lots of them in films. How do we encourage a lot more girls to pursue science, technology and engineering careers? By casting droves of women in STEM, politics, law and other professions today in movies.

I’ve been harping on this same theme for quite some time.

The press release event was chronicled on Storify.  It includes lots of photos and tweets describing much more of what happened at the event.

The study was conducted by Stacy L. Smith (PhD), Marc Choueiti, & Katherine Pieper (PhD) at the Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California. You can download the full report.

Images from UN Women on Flickr

In a World: A Review

In a World is terrific.

In a World poster

In a World is the from the mind of Lake Bell. She wrote it, directed it, and stars in it. Her character – Carol – wants to do voice overs. Carol is a quirky and very likable woman. Carol’s father Sam, played by real voice over artist Fred Melamed, discounts her dreams because she’s a woman and women don’t become voice over stars. In addition, her father is currently the biggest name in voice over acting, and he doesn’t like the idea of an upstart daughter being his competition.

The title comes from the voice of Don LaFontaine, the legendary voice over star who made the phrase “in a world” the famous opening of many a movie trailer. The death of this real Hollywood personality left a hole in the voice over world that several in Lake Bell’s fictional world attempt to fill.

Carol, her sister Dani (Michaela Watkins) her father and her father’s younger girlfriend Jamie (Alexandra Holden) make up a family with its unique set of issues and jealousies and support systems. The sisters are beautifully close. I enjoyed the twists in how the family dynamics played out, and especially Jamie’s surprise influence on how Sam behaved as a father.

Dani has her own storyline separate from Carol around her relationship with her husband Moe, played by Rob Corddry. Another storyline is Carol’s hunt for work and her voice recording work in a studio run by a guy named Louis, played by relative newcomer Demetri Martin. (Louis is a romantic interest, too.) Other characters in the recording studio are played by Stephanie Allynne, who has a real knack for physical comedy, and Tig Nagaro, who gets a couple of good laughs. Ken Marino is Gustav, another of the voice over artists in the race to become the new voice to utter “in a world” in future movie trailers. Gustav uses his oily charm to seduce Carol before he realizes that she is his mentor Sam’s daughter and another aspiring voice over talent.

Eva Longoria is hilarious as Eva Longoria. Geena Davis is perfect as a crusader for women’s power in Hollywood. Cameron Diaz did an uncredited bit as an Amazon warrior.

The movie is funny with lots of opportunities to laugh, a few opportunities to wince at a character’s pain, and an ending that deserves applause. I don’t want to give you a lot of details because the ending is unusual. As I was leaving I heard several different people make positive comments, so I wasn’t the only moviegoer who was happy with the movie.

You can watch the trailer in the earlier post Where in the World is In a World?

All images ©Roadside Attractions