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Feds Investigate Sexism In Hollywood

There’s no doubt that Hollywood is a man’s world. The most prominent roles go to men, they make more money on average than actresses, and names like James Cameron, Steven Spielberg and Christopher Nolan, dwarf female directors like Kathryn Bigelow, Catherine Hardwicke and Julie Taymor.

US federal officials are now set to investigate the issue after pressure from the American Civil Liberties Union, who have honed in on "violations of civil rights" experienced by "women directors in the industry," according to comments made by Melissa Goodman to the the Associated Press. She heads the ACLU's LGBTQ, Gender and Reproductive Justice Project in Southern California.

Both the US Equal Employments Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance (OFCC), are on the case, after the ACLU carried out their own two-year investigation into Hollywood's discriminatory practices.

They interviewed more than 50 female directors and uncovered such practices as male-only short-listing, which they argue contributes to a systemic bias. Indeed, just 9% of 2015's 250 highest grossing films had female directors, according to Celluloid Ceiling Report.

This does not appear to be a bias based on ability, but a bias based on gender. How can women showcase their talent or studios make a fair judgement on talent, if women are excluded from the beginning of the process?

The EEOC has already sent out surveys of their own to female directors, however whatever they find will be somewhat stunted by the fact that they cannot make a judgement. Their role is to simply collect data and encourage the industry to take it in to account.

If change has to come from within, actresses Jessica Chastain and Alicia Vikander are both leading the way. They've each recently launched production companies that push affirmative action for women. Vikander will be producing Euphoria, which will mark the English-language debut of Swedish director Lisa Langeth.

The pay gap between actors and actresses is also a very real issue, which is beyond the scope of the current investigation. The infamous Sony Hack last year revealed that Jennifer Lawrence was paid less than her male counterparts in American Hustle. When Charlize Theron discovered she would be paid $10 million less than Chris Hemsworth in The Huntsman she managed to negotiate her way to equality. However this seems to be the exception rather than the norm.

In her official statement, ACLU lawyer Goodman made the following closing remarks:

We are confident that the government will corroborate our work and push industry leaders to address the ongoing violations of the legal and civil rights of these directors and of all women in the film and television industries.

There's still a long road ahead.

Posted by KeelanB at May 13, 2016 11:42 AM
Comment #404738

I didn’t recognize any of the women KeelanB mentioned. I looked up Julie Taymor. We need to compare apples to apples here.

James Cameron and Stephen Spielberg work in film. Taymor works mostly in theater. How does Taymor’s pay stack up to her male counterpart in Theater?

Posted by: Weary Willie at May 14, 2016 11:26 AM
Comment #404741

James Cameron’s inspiration for Terminator came to him in a dream. Taymor’s films were bases on historic masterpieces by someone else.

I just recently was able to watch the three Atlas Shrugged movies. Another original artist that wasn’t taken seriously, not because she was a woman, but more realistically due to her controversial ideas, Ayn Rand, spelled out how equality and fairness is a tool used by those in power to gain more and more power.

When you compare the today’s faux issue of “Equality” with Ayn Rand’s “Public Good” you’ll see a huge similarity in how liberty is being stripped away.

Posted by: Weary Willie at May 14, 2016 11:49 AM
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