Jim Talks with Drew Marshall — 4 Comments

  1. Hi Jim,

    Very interesting conversation! Particularly the comparison between the religious community and the entertainment community—and their conspicuous lack of women in positions of power. You made a great point about women rarely rising to the title of director or producer in the film/TV industry…sadly, that’s very true. In 2011, only 5% of the 250 top grossing films were directed by women. Only 14% had female writers. And the number of women behind the camera directly affects how they are portrayed in front of it.

    However, I don’t think I would characterize it as a conscious reluctance to share power with women. Frankly, I think studios would hand a camera to Kermit the Frog if they were confident he could direct a hit feature. Therein lies the problem. There seems to be an unspoken assumption that women might be capable of writing/directing/producing frothy, silly rom-coms, but the real filmmaking and artistry should be left to the men. (“Transformers” is considered art, isn’t it?) And, when a female-directed project fails, everybody folds their arms and says, “See, I toldcha women can’t direct,”and they are then reluctant to hire more female content creators—conveniently overlooking the fact that male-directed projects fail all the time. So, in spite of their mostly progressive politics, I think power brokers in the industry tend to give in to their own internal gender biases when hundreds of millions dollars are at stake.

    But these gender biases cut across all sectors of society. JK Rowlng’s publishers encouraged her to use her initials instead of her name—presumably because boys won’t willingly read something written by a woman. And a study on gender bias in content creation done a few years back found that readers who thought they were reading the work of a woman gave a script a much harsher review than those who thought the work was by a man. So, the pertinent question is why do so many of us view women’s creative capabilities with such suspicion? Could the influence of a religious culture that frequently images all that is divine, perfect and whole as exclusively male and all that is fallen, broken and in need of redemption (the church/chosen people) as exclusively female be contributing to these attitudes? Or creation stories in which life springs forth not from the womb of a woman but from the side of a man. Do they predispose us to dismiss women’s voices and creative output as less authoritative, less authentic, less life-giving?

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