Tag Archives: Hollywood

Despite A Call For More Diversity In Film, Study Finds LGBTQ Inequality Still ‘Entrenched’ In Hollywood

Despite a call for more diversity in film, a new study finds little is changing in Hollywood for women, minorities and LGBT people.

This week, the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism released a study that assessed actors, directors and writers in mainstream films from 2007 through 2015.

The study showed LGBT characters make up less than 1% of speaking parts or 32 out of 35,205 characters.

In 2014 there were no transgender characters, but the number increased to one in 2015.


LGBT character representation increased in 2015, but only two characters were depicted as parents.

The study also found that there was a ratio of 2.2 men with speaking roles for every woman making females 31% of speaking characters in 2015.

The numbers were estimated to be about the same back in 2007.

The number of black, Latino and Asian characters also did not significantly increase from 2007 to 2015, with 12% African American, 5% Latino and 4% Asian characters found.

Professor Stacy Smith, the study’s author, said

We’re seeing entrenched inequality. Whether we’re studying gender, race, ethnicity, LGBT or characters with disabilities, we’re really seeing exclusionary forces leaving out anybody that’s not a straight, white, able-bodied man. Despite all the chatter and all the activism and all the press attention, it’s another year where the status quo has been maintained.”


Sarah Paulson Talks Marcia Clark, The Lines She Won’t Cross, And Industry Sexism

During The Hollywood Reporter’s annual Drama Actress Roundtable discussion, Sarah Paulson got candid about her experience with sexism in the industry.

I’ve never been asked to play the leading lady without having to be a blonde. I don’t mind it, I like the blonde — but to be told that in order to be considered a romantic lady opposite some hunky guy, I need to have long blond hair that looked very L.A. Real Housewives? It does do something to your brain. You go, ‘Gosh, so the way I came into the world is not as appealing as it would be if I were altered in some way?’ That’s a funny message to extend to a person.

Kristen Stewart Honours Jodie Foster As She Receives Star On Hollywood Walk Of Fame

Jodie Foster received her first star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

And on hand to celebrate her new star on the Walk of Fame yesterday in Hollywood, was former Panic Room co-star Kristen Stewart – who gave a heart-warming speech in honour of the 53-year-old Oscar-winning actress.

The Twilight star took to the podium and said;

Of all the examples that I could have had at such an impressionable age, there’s nothing self-serving about her. She cares about people, she is quite the opposite of the type of person that is gravitated towards being an actress.We identified that in each other immediately.”


Foster opened up to Variety recently about why she waited to accept the honour after being in the industry for 50 years.

I made this conscious decision that I didn’t want to have a star on Hollywood Boulevard unless it was in a conjunction with a movie I was directing.”

Jodie finally reached her goal as her highly anticipated thriller Money Monster starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts.

I don’t know why that was important to me; it seems silly, but that’s why I waited all these years.”

Orange is the New Black’s Teaser Takes Aim At The Diversity Crisis Overshadowing Hollywood (VIDEO)

Hurrah for the ladies of Litchfield, for providing us all with a hilarious politically incorrect response to the #OscarsSoWhite diversity row in a new teaser for season four of Orange is the New Black.

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Cleverly titled For Your Incarceration – a play on the awards season For Your Consideration campaigns laid on by film studios – Netflix’s favourite inmates offer up their two cents on the Academy Awards.

In the 30-second clip the Litchfield inmates watching an awards show on television, marking the “Hollywood types”.

Taystee, played by Danielle Brooks, quips:

Even when white folks try to be excited, they’re still boring.”


OITNB is seen as one of the most culturally diverse shows on TV these days, winning praise from critics and fans alike.

LGBT media pressure group  recently praised the show, as it announced it will no longer publish an annual report monitoring the quantity, quality, and diversity of LGBT representation on TV.

GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis warned that the film industry was in danger of being left behind – by failing to mirror the progress made by ground-breaking TV shows such as OITNB and Transparent.

The show has won fans for its realistic portrayal of women, its exploration of trans issues and its abundance of same-sex relationships – especially that of lead characters Piper and Alex.


The show recently won a host of SAG awards – with Uzo Abuda picking up her second award for Female Actor in a Comedy Series for her role as Suzanne ‘Crazy Eyes’ Warren.

The show’s entire cast also picked up the Best Ensemble award – with an extensive 35 cast members name-checked, including Ruby Rose, and Lea DeLaria.

The show’s fourth season is set to air on June 17.

Diversity Study Confirms Film Industry Still Mostly White, Straight and Male

A study conducted by the Media, Diversity and Social Change Initiative at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism analysed the top 100 films of each year from 2007-2014 (excluding 2011).

The study took into account gender, racial and LGBT representation and — surprise, surprise — the results over the past seven years are disappointingly bleak.

Across 4,610 speaking characters in the 100 top films of 2014, only 19 were lesbian, gay or bisexual.

Not one transgender character was portrayed.

Ten characters were coded as gay, four were lesbian and five were bisexual.

Only 14 movies sample wide featured an LGB depiction and none of those films were animated.

Overall, those LGB characters were overwhelmingly male (63.2%) and overwhelmingly white (84.2%).

When it comes to character portrayal, the study finds there was little representation of “healthy romantic/sexual relationships”.

None of the gay or bisexual male characters were shown in committed relationships, and no LGB characters were portrayed as parents raising children together.


The study also shows the portrayal of women has become increasingly sexualised; moving from 27% to 27.9% over the years, while nudity has jumped to 26.4%. Shockingly, girls aged 13-20 were just as likely be shown in sexy attire or referenced as attractive.

Dr. Stacy L. Smith, the Initiative’s director said:

We’re really seeing this focus on appearance and sexiness, the male gaze if you will, starting with a very young age for female actors.”


Women only represented 30.2% of the 30,835 speaking roles in the 700 top-grossing films from 2007 to 2014 (excluding 2011). Overall, only 11% of those films had women for roughly half of the speaking roles.

Broken down by genre, women only represented 21.8% of speaking roles in action/adventure films, and 34% of characters in comedies. Less than a quarter of speaking characters in animated films were female, a 7.4% decrease from 2010.

Dr. Stacy L. Smith added

If we existed in a world described in the pages of this report, we would have a population crisis on our hands.”

Only two women directed the top 100 films of 2014. Over the past seven years, only 28 women have directed films in the top 700. Three of those women were African-American.

Black or African American speaking characters were not featured in 17 of the top 100 films of 2014. Asian speaking characters were not included in 40 films in 2014’s top 100.

Smith said

When more than 40 films do not depict one Asian character, I think we have a representational crisis going on in the film industry.”

Behind the scenes, only 4.7% of the top 2014 directors were black, which breaks down to 5 out of 107 directors. Only 5.8% directors of the top 700 films overall were black.

That figure is even lower for Asian directors, who only helmed 19 of the top 700 films.

Iconic Movie Moments With Queer Twist

When it comes LGBT representation in film we often get a bum deal.

Things are starting to change, acceptance is growing momentum, and roles are beginning to open up in mainstream movies. However, what would some of Hollywood’s most beloved films look like with a queer twist?

Artist, Kriti Kaur, took up that challenge – drawing this stunning set of illustrations – that turn 8 iconic cinema moments into same-sex couples.

Kaur came up with the idea for these images after thinking about a way to portray the universal nature of love, no matter what one’s sexual orientation or gender identity may be.

She told HuffPost Gay Voices

I came up with this when I was trying to brainstorm ideas about portraying the concept of love and how it stays the same regardless of people’s gender identities. And I do think that when people think of love, they look back to these famous films that showcase how powerful and amazing it can be. Recreating those moments with LGBT couples just made sense!”

1. Pretty Woman

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2. Casablanca

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3. Clueless

Kriti Kaur 02

4. Grease

Kriti Kaur 04

5. Dirty Dancing

Kriti Kaur 03

6. Love Actually

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7. Titanic

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8. It’s A Wonderful Life

Kriti Kaur 08

Ellen Page Discusses Marriage Equality, Her Career as a Lesbian Actress

Ellen Page made our hearts skip a beat last year when she came out of the closet.

This week the actress spoke to Variety about how she feels Hollywood helped pave the way for LGBT rights, and what coming out meant for her.

I’m happier than I probably could imagine. Now it doesn’t feel like I was ever not out. It’s hard for me to imagine not existing in the way that I’m existing now. It boggles my mind that it seemed so difficult and so impossible. I wish I’d done it sooner, quite frankly. Some dark cloud has completely evaporated, thank goodness.”

She added

There are still not many young people out in Hollywood. There’s this narrative that people are attached to: You cannot come out because it’s going to hurt your career. And that’s potentially true. When I made the decision to come out, I wasn’t naive to that.”


On Hollywood, being out and acting she said

… the roles that do exist, you’re specifically a device for the male character or you’re hypersexualized in regards to the male gaze. For whatever reason, people can believe straight actors playing gay roles, but there’s this idea they can’t believe gay actors playing straight roles. And for me, it got to a point where it didn’t matter.”

Hollywood (for all it failings) has helped drive LGBT stories to a larger audience. There is now growing acceptance for gay and lesbian story lines; and gay rights and marriages.

Aside from all the silliness of Hollywood and what we do, stories are told that are really important, and that touch people and transform how they feel about things, whether it’s been “Philadelphia,” “Brokeback Mountain” or “Milk.” And I think it definitely can change minds and push things forward.

Whenever you’re telling a story about a minority group, it’s potentially not as appealing because there’s a feeling it’s not going to get the audience a financier needs. I feel like that’s been proven wrong time and time again, particularly when you’re looking at the diversity on TV right now. You can tell that’s what people want.”


On coming out, and her new role as LGBT spokesperson, the actress added

I feel extremely fortunate and humble when I have experiences with LGBT people who come up to me and say how I helped them come out. Those moments are really extraordinary. They are typically really emotional. The biggest feeling I get is gratitude. I totally stayed in the closet, and I felt guilty about it. I was finally able to get out, and that was my life journey. I’m interested in gay issues. It’s natural for that to be a part of my life.”

How to Combat Hollywood’s Ageism Problem

Hollywood is a broken industry. It is sexist, racist and queerphobic whether outright (in comments from directors and casting agents that just don’t cast or consider women, people of colour or LGBT people for roles) or behind closed doors (in the way it fails to portray their stories and protests ‘creative license!’ when called out for it).

Rather unsurprisingly, the industry is also incredibly ageist as it either ignores the stories of mature people or pigeonholes them into background grandparent roles unbefitting of actors who have headlined Hollywood’s finest projects throughout their careers.

And of course by “mature people” I of course mean women. No one tuts or mutters under their breath about Harrison Ford, wondering how on Earth his aging body was able to portray and action hero in Cowboys & Aliens at the ripe old age of 73, nor do they wonder how he’ll be able to handle a lightsaber in the upcoming Star Wars movie and by the time that’s released, he’ll be 77. ‘My what a career he’s had’, they’ll say continuing to praise him like not a single wrinkle has graced his forehead, meanwhile, they ask of Meryl Streep ‘my what a career she’s had, but isn’t it time to retire now?’ before following it up with some comment about her appearance.

Hollywood’s ageism problem has come up most recently with comedian Amy Schumer’s skit titled ‘Last F—kable Day’ in which Schumer stumbles upon a party being held by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Patricia Arquette and Tina Fey. All of them are well-known, talented names but in the skit they recognise that they each have their final ‘f—kable’ day in which the media tosses them aside, no longer finding them attractive or desirable in any way. Once they hit that age, they agree, their sexual appeal ups and leaves.

Much like the rest of Amy’s skits, which she creates for her Comedy Central show Inside Amy Schumer, she offers a tongue in cheek look at hard hitting subjects and clearly this is no different. But it’s not just a talking point; it’s something that’s actively putting a stop to the careers of many talented mature women and it’s also robbing us – the audience – of fantastic stories. We don’t just want to see mature women playing bit part grannies and elderly parent extras, we want them robbing from the government like Diane Keaton in Mad Money, or Kate Walsh embracing her rebellious streak in Bad Judge or Viola Davis as the unapologetic, no-nonsense lawyer at the centre of How to Get Away With Murder’s mysteries.

But change won’t come unless it’s encouraged from the top, says Marta Kauffman, a writer on Friends and the co-creator of Netflix show Grace and Frankie, which features Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as two rivals whose husbands want to run away with each other.



Speaking to The Huffington Post, Kauffman explains that “we definitely need more [women] behind the scenes. When we were looking for lists of directors, there were so few directors that were women, compared to how many men there are. With show-runners too, there are a lot more than there were, but we’re still underrepresented”.

However, even though Kauffman has gone out of her way to hire female directors and writers, Grace and Frankie is just one show and Hollywood should still be embarrassed by the numbers – just 9% of directors in Hollywood are women and elsewhere behind the scenes, men outweigh women by five to one.

Also helping is the aforementioned Meryl Streep who recently made headlines for funding a writer’s lab for women over 40. The lab, called ‘Writers Lab’, will be run by New York Women in Film and Television and IRIS which is a female filmmaker collective.

Writers Lab “evolved in recognition of the absence of the female voice in narrative film, along with the dearth of support for script development” and will hope to get more women into employment both behind and in front of the camera.

Meryl Streep 02

But even then, more work needs to be done. There are significant roadblocks in terms of high-profile opinions, such as Russell Crowe blaming a lack of mature women in the media on their wishes to be portrayed as the ‘ingénue’ and others that agree with him. But by supporting female-led productions and by championing the stories of all women of all ages, backgrounds, races and sexualities, Hollywood’s bigwigs will be forced to take notice and we’ll see a better more diverse world of media soon enough.


How Television Can Solve Hollywood’s Lack of Diversity

Did you watch the Oscars last month? I didn’t, not because I don’t love a good celebrity shindig – especially when there are cameras and copious amounts of alcohol involved – but because if I wanted to see a mostly white, mostly male group of people in power award other mostly white people then I would turn on the news or simply look at the world around me.

In an awards season where Dear White People took on the issue of white people, black culture and racial microaggressions, when Selma looked at the civil rights movement and countless other films about people of colour captivated audiences, the Academy (the group of people who decides who is nominated for and who wins at the Oscars) conveniently engaged its ‘whites only’ tunnel vision.

Dear White People 01

Despite all of the astonishing achievements of by actors of colour in Hollywood in the past year, not a single actor of colour was even nominated in the lead or supporting categories. It’s one thing to snub actors of colour but to not even invite them to the party? Hollywood, that’s cold.

The conversation that the controversy has created has been great, however. #OscarsSoWhite trended on Twitter and critics and and moviegoers alike have all being asking the question of ‘why’ and also ‘how’ of Hollywood’s stark whiteness.

The why can be answered with ‘Hollywood is racist’, as despite the the fact that Latino@s and black people are the two fastest growing groups of moviegoers, Hollywood is still quick to ignore or gloss over their stories.

This is especially obvious in the cases of things like The Hunger Games when despite the series of books saying that Katniss isn’t white, the multi-million dollar movie franchise decided to take some real, racist creative license and casted a white actress for the role instead.

As for the ‘how’ the Oscars ended up being so biased, many critics are chalking it down to the popularity and success of films like 12 Years a Slave, Django Unchained, Life of Pi and Beasts of the Southern Wild (which all featured people of colour in lead or main roles) in previous years. Many feel that as Hollywood ‘threw people of colour a bone’ with that previous acknowledgement, they feel that their work is now done and that people of colour will be satisfied.

This year Selma was snubbed almost across the board (although it won for Best Original Song and it was nominated for Best Picture) despite everyone who saw it having raved about its brilliance. British actor David Oyelowo (who plays Martin Luther King Jr.) explained in an interview with Variety that:

“We’ve just got to come to the point whereby there isn’t a self-fulfilling prophecy — a notion of who black people are — that feeds into what we are celebrated as. Not just in the Academy, just in life generally. We have been slaves, we have been domestic servants, we have been criminals, we have been all of those things. But we have been leaders, we have been kings, we have been those who changed the world.”

In short, unless the media shows people of colour being let down, trodden on or oppressed, Hollywood just ain’t that interested.
Unless it comes to television.

One prevalent argument coming out of the debate is that television is the next frontier of diversity. This television season alone we saw the mostly-Hispanic TV show Jane The Virgin grace our screens, recent debut Empire focuses on a massively wealthy black family in the music business, How To Get Away With Murder features a no-nonsense black, female lawyer surrounded by several fearless people of colour and black-ish also focuses on a rich black family looking to fit with their white counterparts.


Television has been an absolutely joy to watch these coming months as we’re no longer forced to put up with monotonous white men at the helm, for the sake of a glimpse of a bitpart black woman – we now have a plethora of brilliant, POC-featuring media gracing our screens each and every single night of the week.

So why does TV get it right while the silver screen cannot?

Part of the reason behind the recent emergence of people of colour on television (this year at least) is because it’s driven by business decisions and a need for variety. It’s a well known fact that services like Netflix are steadily chipping away at cable TV viewership and on top of the ease of TV watching that Netflix offers us, it’s also filling a serious diversity gap.

Just look at Orange is the New Black which has a cast almost entirely made of women who are flawed and funny, racially diverse and also aren’t just straight or cisgendered either.

Orange is the New Black 02

Given that traditional TV networks need to compete and need to offer us something different and better than the many mostly white and male protagonists that have been littering our screen, it makes sense for them to finally do right by ethnic minorities and put some non-white faces on TV.

It should also be noted that black people watch more TV (in the United States) than white people (Nielsen estimates that black people watch at least two hours more each week) so that may also have been a driving factor.

The statistics aren’t perfect though and while it’s beautiful that TV is becoming more diverse, there’s still lots of work to be done. For example, queer people of colour are still a rarity and there are still plenty of shows that are still mostly white and definitely not representative of the people who are watching them.

As for the hope of TV’s prowess rubbing off on Hollywood, it may take much longer than one awards season to right those racially homogenous wrongs. It’s not just the casting directors of Hollywood that are racist – or just plain ignorant – towards people of colour but it’s the whole damn hierarchy.

It is notoriously difficult for non-white filmmakers and actors to breakthrough to the big leagues and be considered for the same opportunities as white people. So unless those at the top want to make a real, serious change, things may be stuck like this forever.

The ball is rolling now and it will not stop until finally, the media on offer represents the people who are actually watching it.

Why Is Hollywood So Bad at Casting Trans Actors as Trans Characters?

In terms of numbers, movies and TV shows are improving when it comes to LGBT characters. But while there are plenty more LGBT characters on our screens (both big and small) there are some glaring issues with their portrayal that stick out like a sore, offensive thumb.

Namely, there’s the fact that the majority of the LGBT characters we see are white, bisexuals either don’t exist or are promiscuous harlots and transgender characters are commonly robbed of their own storylines in favour of being on the end of some unfortunate transphobic jokes.

And, when trans characters do get their own stories, it’s rarely done right. There’s also the fact that time and time again, we are seeing what few trans characters we have be portrayed by cisgendered actors and actresses, which is disrespectful to the identities that they are portraying and disrespectful to the many trans actors who’ve been denied a chance of fame.

In this vein, the films that come to mind are ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ (Hilary Swank played a trans man), ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ (Jared Leto played a trans woman), ‘TransAmerica’ (Felicity Huffman played a trans woman) and upcoming films ‘The Danish Girl’ (Eddie Redmayne plays a trans woman) and ‘Three Generations’ (Elle Fanning plays a trans man). The fact that these films are just the tip of the iceberg – is absolutely shocking.

Worse still is that not only are these opportunities for the visibility of trans actors essentially being gifted into the hands of cisgendered actors, the movies themselves often have serious issues. For example, both Huffman and Leto received high praise for their roles (Leto even won an Oscar) but these are movies where little to no respect is giving to the trans characters.

The official synopsis for TransAmerica literally calls Huffman’s character “transsexual” whilst Leto’s character Rayon is constantly misgendered and disrespected throughout the film and at one point the lead character even suggests using a gun to give Rayon a sex change.

Arguably, cisgendered actors are not the only piece of the problematic puzzle but they are an example of Hollywood’s failures.

Much in the same way that you wouldn’t expect a white person to understand what it’s like to face all of hardships and micro-aggressions of a racist society, you shouldn’t expect cisgendered actors, directors and producers to be completely clued in on how to portray trans characters. This is not necessarily their fault(s) but it can and should be rectified by working with trans actors, filmmakers and consultants.

A good example of this is Transparent. Transparent airs on Amazon Instant (and therefore isn’t included in the statistic that .001% of the 796 broadcast series regulars are transgender) but it features cisgendered male actor Jeffrey Tambor in the lead role.

However, not only is Tambor’s character Maura supported by best friend Davina (who is a trans woman played by trans actor Alexandra Billings), but it features trans man Dale (also played by a trans actor) as a potential love interest for Maura’s daughter too. And, the show itself was made by creator Jill Soloway because of her own experience of having a trans parent and Soloway also made the decision to hire trans staffers for behind the camera work too.

So if Transparent can get it right (along with Orange is the New Black, which features TWOC inmate Sophia Burset) why can’t others? The main reason for this is clear – using trans stories for dramatic effect is bold and gains awards but hiring trans actors to actually play those roles is considerably risky.

Many point out that unlike with same sex relationships, there is little voyeuristic quality to displaying trans lives and characters. Questioning your gender or dealing with body dysphoria does not – for straight, cisgendered audiences at least – have the same pull as ‘two girls fall in love and make out a whole bunch in the process’. But shouldn’t we be asking for these stories to be presented for the sake of awareness and not whatever cishets think?

Absolutely. It could be pushed that the huge success of OITNB and Transparent can be attributed to the fact that they are good shows and gain from having trans characters rather than including them at their detriment. Looking at the roster of trans-related media out there: The T Word, Laverne Cox’s documentary on trans youth, ex-Navy SEAL Kristen Beck’s memoir about her transition (which became a best seller) and Tyra Banks is also putting together a trans docu of her own, it’s apparent that there is an appetite for hearing these stories. For their actual value and not for creepy, intrusive reasons either.

Could we see more trans characters – and with them, trans actors – in the future?

Demand determines everything in Hollywood and as executives look at what’s selling (queer stories) there’s good chance that they will ‘buck the trend’ and produce some good results in the process. That might seem a little optimistic but as traditional and TV movies look to compete with the inclusive shows on Netflix and Amazon Instant, it’s more than a little bit possible.

Cross your fingers and watch this space.

Hollywood is Still Not Up to Scratch When it Comes to LGBT Representation

Shock! Surprise! Utter disdain and disgust for Hollywood’s continued failure to represent the diverse moviegoers who pay to see their films!

All emotions that we’re still feeling in 2014, despite people of colour and women being the most frequent cinema ticket buyers and LGBT buying power reaching $830 billion in the United States alone. Alas, even with TV shows’ improved success when it comes to representing LGBT characters, movies just can’t get it together.

We could chalk it down to the fact that it’s a lot easier bump off a character – through a death or just by writing them out of the show – if the show gets too queer for its heteronormative boots or that the characters in TV shows can grow into their non-heterosexual or non-cisgendered selves through a beautifully written bit of character development, but when no one’s (noticeably) avoiding TV shows just because they have queer people in them, why on Earth isn’t Hollywood up to scratch yet?

And it’s not even as though LGBT characters aren’t there either as according to GLAAD’s second annual Studio Responsibility Index, across the films from the 7 major studios they surveyed just 17 films with LGBT characters passed GLAAD’s benchmark. That benchmark is the Vito Russo test and it determines that a film must have an LGBT character who isn’t defined by their sexual orientation or gender identity and that they must be tied to the plot in such a way that if they weren’t there you’d notice it.

That’s not a lot to ask but these 7 studios still mucked it up as two (Paramount and Warner Brothers) received “failing grades” and no one received top marks of “excellent” which isn’t surprising when you consider the fact that some of these films not only included anti-gay slurs (there are instances where these might be necessary – e.g to highlight the discrimination a character is facing – but I don’t think that’s the case here) and one (Anchorman 2 from Paramount) decided to throw around trans slurs just for comedic value.

Understandably, GLAAD has recommended completely valid things such as LGBT characters being leads, not just support and they’ve recommended that LGBT characters in films are made more diverse too as the lack of queer female characters and queer people of colour has clearly been transferred from all of those other erroneous times when Hollywood has failed to put (straight) women and people of colour in their films either.

It’s also worth noting that things might have been different if GLAAD had been willing to take smaller studios into account as despite leaving them out due to the fact that most smaller studios’ films are marketed less and shown in less theatres, they do tend to get it right most of the time, likely on account of the projects being seen as ‘risky’ anyway and therefore the ‘risky’ inclusion of LGBT characters is probably alright.

That’s really tragic to type, if I’m honest and it’s just as tragic to know that the same old heterosexual slice of life is being shown in cinemas time and time again so here’s to crossing our fingers, wishing on our lucky stars, horseshoes and clovers that next year’s GLAAD report will suggest that for queer characters in Hollywood, things are really getting better.

On Shailene Woodley, Hollywood and Why So Many People Think Feminists ‘Hate Men’

“Why Hollywood Desperately Needs Shailene Woodley”, suggests one article citing the feminist ideals and critiques that she supports, “Shailene Woodley on Why She’s Not a Feminist” reads the second headline that’s written on the TIME Magazine website a few months later making us all wonder if Woodley’s opinions are ones that we really need thrown into an already un-feminist-friendly melting pot. This isn’t a critique of Woodley herself; she thinks that her film, Divergent, promotes ‘’sisterhood” on account of it leaving out typical boy-centric girl-fights, she thinks that vampire romp Twilight is unfortunate for the extremes that main character Bella goes when her male love interest leaves her and Woodley herself even identifies as a lady loving lady (she doesn’t fall in love based on gender, she says in one interview) but call her a feminist and she’ll run a mile.

And it’s no wonder either, when the TIME piece discussing Woodley’s anti-feminist sentiments opens with [tweet_dis]“one of the hottest topics in Hollywood lately has been the ‘F’ word” as in feminism is now a dirty slur right up there with ‘fat’, ‘idiot’ and ‘ugly’ [/tweet_dis]and we can half expect it to be used in the latest batch of playground jokes. ‘Yo momma is such a feminist that she believes in the reproductive rights of others!’ That’s the type of micro-aggression that we (we as in women, God help someone recognises that I’m a feminist) are faced with, which is echoed in Woodley quotes such as “[I’m not a feminist] because I love men, and I think the idea of ‘raise women to power, take the men away from the power’ is never going to work out because you need balance” and “I think that if men went down and women rose to power, that wouldn’t work either. We have to have a fine balance.” suggesting that feminism isn’t supported not because of subtle misogyny but simply because people don’t get it.

Of a handful ladies who have advocated for feminism: Beyoncé, Lily Allen and Miley Cyrus, the former previously didn’t identify as a feminist due to views similar to Woodley’s, Allen is a feminist who thinks that ‘everyone is equal’ (despite the stats stating the glaringly obvious – we’re not) and the latter is all about owning her sexuality and the freedom of her body, yet she advocates for sexual assault in the same breath. And it’s easy enough to say that we should take what we can get in a ‘feminism lite’ kind of way but it’s like walking into hospital with two broken arms and a limp and having the doctors ask you which one – and only one – would you like healed up. No thanks, I’ll take a cast on all of my appendages and my basic human rights to go, if you don’t mind.

It’s a worrying trend, the anti-identity phrasing (granted, you don’t have to identify with q word to believe in it or be it but there are definitely some peculiar reasons why feminism isn’t supported) that’s drawing more than a few questions from pop culture fans. One such fan, named Sophie, pointed out to me that Woodley’s questionable opinions go far beyond thinking that feminist women want all the power for themselves as Woodley supports The Other Women, a new film that is notable for avoiding the majority of women vs women tropes but it’s also “that movie about girls that doesn’t pass the Bechdel Test”. Sophie also noted that Woodley’s insistence on women needing to respect each other (despite slut-shaming and body-shaming both being supported and developed by the patriarchy) “annoys [Sophie] so much because that’s one of the biggest things that people don’t understand even if they support equality”.

Indeed, even the most progressive minds will need a bit of nudging in the right direction but with so called ‘strong women’ films like The Other Women failing the Bechdel Test on account of its several named female characters never once talking to each other once about anything other than a man (the criteria for passing), where on Earth is the right direction going to come from? Well for a start, feminism lite isn’t going to cut it and that means films and media that are empowering to all women – black, white, queer, straight and trans* – and it probably means we need to aim far, far higher than two named women talking about something other than a man. I for one don’t spend every waking moment talking to my friends about men and I suspect that you don’t either so not only is the media we’re seeing today an egregious example of a trope, it’s also not representative of any aspect of what women are actually like.

Another interviewee I spoke to, named Grace Kelly, had some suggestions of where Woodley, and others like her have gone wrong, telling me that “When I first read the quotes, I understood what she was getting at with the whole ‘balance’ thing as opposed to wanting to ‘overthrow men’ but then I realised that that’s what feminism is; it’s about creating a balance in the scales which is not in women’s favour (equal pay etc.) and to suggest that feminism is all about hating men is just idiotic. Sure there are extremists but that’s the same with any ideal/belief. In terms of people not understanding feminism; if you believe women deserve to be treated equally with men then you are a feminist.” Kelly even went on to suggest where the incorrect notions of what feminism is comes from people misinterpreting why the movement started in the first place. “Feminism isn’t about burning bras, it’s about changing perceptions in both men and women”, a viewpoint from Kelly echoed by previous statements from women I interviewed in a previous report.

Perhaps Woodley is an outlier, but she’s a bright enough spark to both garner headlines and to garner headlines suggesting that she is the only spark of her kind. But she’s not. Women around the world of all ages, races and identities are in favour of feminism and I’d also argue that it’s words like Woodley’s and Allen’s and Beyoncé’s previous thoughts on the movement that is harming the numbers of more women gladly sewing the ‘Proud Feminist’ patch onto their jackets. But we need people to be outspoken, to identify with the label even when the patriarchy suggests that they’ll be othered, because the more people talking about feminism the better the picture for women becomes as a whole and, critically, the more that feminists can get done.

Image source

Source(s): TIME (1), (2),NME