Topic Background

Director, producer and writer, Kathryn Bigelow is a rarity in Hollywood. Six years ago, she was the first female to win Best Director for her film, The Hurt Locker. To this day, she continues to hold that title, and ever since her win, no other female directors have been nominated. As of 2011, females only made up 11% of protagonists in all film platforms. According to Charlotte Alter, a Times cultural, politics, and news author, women are “…faring worse at making movies in 2013 than they were in 1998.” Of all the top-grossing movies of 2013, women accounted for only 16% of the writers, directors, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers. In a recent European study, researchers found “significant under-representation of female directors in all stages of the production and distribution process,” continuing with the findings that only 1 in 5 films are directed my women in Europe.

It is no surprise that if you want to understand what is going on in the 21st century, you must first understand media. On average, youths (ages 12–18) spend 31 hours a week watching television. Why are these statistics important? Why should people even care? While women are barely making up a proportionate amount of directors, writers, and producers, according to some feminist ideology, this trend is becoming increasingly detrimental to young women. Carol Jenkins, founder of Women’s Media Center explains, “…if you do not have women [on film], then girls do not see [who] they can be, so it’s really what you see that inspires your idea…” This quote relates to the women who are directors/producers/writers and the women seen on the screen. As society is becoming one with film and television, youths are identifying with television and movies more frequently. The media can be particularly important for young people as they are developing their own beliefs and patterns of behavior. In most films, young boys witness strong and courageous leading roles, young girls are frequently viewing the opposite. Marie Wilson founder of The White House Project explains, “Having to see this opportunity to see women, to see women’s leadership in reality and on the screen is huge for women. [The U.S.] doesn’t have many women really in leadership, so the way [things] gets done to a certain extent… have to do with Hollywood…Start where people are, and people are watching…” 68% of viewers of the television series Commander In Chief, which followed the life of the first woman elected President of the United States, were more likely to accept a female as president. After only airing one season, the show was cancelled despite high ratings.

With these staggering statistics and uncomfortable information, in my blog I wish to deepen the conversation surrounding this idea by picking out films and television series while determining how they represent women. I want to ask the following questions: how are the female roles related to the male roles? What are their relationships? How do these portrayals and relationships relate to our society? Who are the females directing/writing/producing these visual medias? Are they being equally represented, or is there a major divide?

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