Directors Paul Feig, Pedro Almodovar & Duncan Jones On Sexism In Hollywood Toward Women

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We’ve talked at length about the need for more diversity and gender equality in Hollywood. We’ve shared numerous articles about various women who are speaking up, taking a stand and creating change in an industry that should be the standard-bearer for creative liberalism, but sadly isn’t just yet.

But with all this important activism comes the realization that change isn’t going to happen with just half of the industry population working to create it. Men also have to join the fight and recognize what a benefit it is to filmmaking when everyone gets the same kinds of opportunities based on talent and merit, not skin color or gender.

And it should be noted there are more and more men speaking up and joining the push for equality. Recently, 3 directors have shared their thoughts on sexism within Hollywood and the need for more female-driven content in order to balance out the equation. ‘Bridesmaids’ and ‘Spy’ director Paul Feig has not held back in his opinion about female directors, saying it is a shame there aren’t more.

Wage equality is also important to him, as he announced he will ensure all future film contracts will include an equity clause for male and female stars to be paid the same. If every person in a position of power chose to do this, imagine the possibilities.

Of course he has faced backlash for his feminist leanings, most notably for his all-female ‘Ghostbusters’ reboot. At the annual Producer’s Guild of America’s Produced By Conference, he spoke about the incredible amount of sexism he has seen online by fans who claim he has “ruined their childhood” by, shock horror, choosing to cast women as evil spirit-fighting vigilantes.

“It was my idea to do it all-female. I wanted to do an origin story and I thought the best way to do it was by doing it with the funniest women I know,” he first explained.

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“I have been hit with some of the worst misogynistic stuff. I used to [hear] that people had haters and I was, like, ‘How does that happen?'” he said. Sadly, this kind of backlash is all too common for women who have a presence online, especially the more vocal and well-known they are. Now that Paul Feig is experiencing some of it because of his proximity to gender equality in Hollywood, it is good he is speaking publicly about it and working to change the status quo.

“We still get called, in the press, a ‘chick flick.’ We are never not referred to as the ‘all-female Ghostbusters,’ which makes me crazy,” he added.

This Hollywood Reporter article stated that the ‘Ghostbusters’ trailer has become the most disliked trailer in Youtube history. While there are many who claim its easier to ignore the online harassment and hatred, there are times when something needs to be said and we sure are glad people like Paul Feig are speaking about this in order to break down sexist stigma. He’s certainly not the only one.

Iconic Spanish director and writer Pedro Almodovar also shared his thoughts on the role of women in Hollywood during the recent Cannes Film Festival where he was promoting his latest flick ‘Julieta’. Variety described him as “one of the preeminent directors of women” in his Spanish language films, starring the likes of Penelope Cruz, and for “the way he crafts meaty, unconventional roles and stories that are driven by female protagonists. In a youth-obsessed industry, he’s also shown a willingness, as he does with ‘Julietta’s’ [Emma] Suárez to work with older actresses,” writes Brent Lang.

His work impacts Hollywood in a big way because other film markets become a breeding ground for international talent and often become a major launch pad for talent like the aforementioned Penelope Cruz. Pedro Almodovar’s films are as well-loved as the director himself, so it is a big deal to have him speak out on issues of gender inequality in the medium.

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“Hollywood is losing an enormous opportunity when it doesn’t actually create these good roles for women of all ages. When it doesn’t actually create good roles to talk about mothers, about girlfriends, about daughters, about sister-in-laws,” he said.

He makes a great point in how the role of a female character is often used as a way to prove a male character’s sexuality, rather than playing an important function in a plot.

“We’ve got all of these movies that are about heroes and about arch-enemies, and there’s the sequels and there’s the prequels. With those movies, in general, and I’m only generalizing, if a woman appears, their function is to prove that the hero is not a homosexual,” he said.

When was the last time you saw a gay Captain America? Or a bi-sexual Iron Man? Yeah, we didn’t think so. Pedro’s statement proves just how big the impact of film can be, especially when it continually reinforces such binary ideas of humanity and sexuality.

Although television has become a burgeoning medium for older female actresses (i.e, those who have lived past their “last f***able day” date) and Pedro applauds his, he bemoans how this has become sort of a “plan B” for women who are still trying to change the perception of older characters on screen.

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“There’s a kind of diabolical sexism, and I say that it’s diabolical because there’s no one that we can actually accuse of being responsible for this sexism. The roles are out there for someone like Meryl Streep, but they’re not out there for the others,” he said.

It’s a little like trickle-down economics (but in the case of the film industry, it actually works): when those in positions of power at the top make specific changes and decisions that further diversity and gender equality, it has a far reaching effect on audiences as well as other filmmakers. “You can’t be what you can’t see”, as the saying goes.

And finally, director Duncan Jones, son of the late iconic musician David Bowie, had some pretty awesome things to say about the importance of strong female characters in an interview promoting his latest film ‘Warcraft’.

“The reason that it’s important to have strong female representation, in this movie and pretty much all movies, is that women exist everywhere and in equal numbers to men. So it makes sense that you probably might want to replicate that in pretty much all media, not just movies,” he said, channeling a bit of Geena Davis as well as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

You can hear more of what he had to say about fellow director James Cameron’s ability to create films with strong female leads, as well as ‘Warcraft’s own female-driven action blockbuster plot in the video below. These are the kinds of messages we need to hear more of. If more men in Hollywood do as Paul, Pedro and Duncan do, the industry would be a lot better off.

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