Maureen Dowd talks to female actresses, executives and filmmakers to answer “what will it take to dismantle the pervasive sexism” in Hollywood
“The Women of Hollywood Speak Out” in Maureen Dowd’s extensive New York Times Magazine cover story taking on sexism that permeates the entertainment industry.
Dowd spoke with over 100 female actresses, executives and filmmakers for the piece published Friday, weaving in stories of how women have been passed over for top entertainment roles in favor of their male counterparts.
She starts with the story of how Colin Trevorrow ingratiated himself to “The Incredibles” director Brad Bird, which landed him in front of Steven Spielberg, and eventually got him the director and co-writer role for “Jurassic World.”
“That kind of leap — from indie to blockbuster — is almost exclusively reserved for young guys in baseball caps who remind older guys in baseball caps of themselves,” Dowd wrote.
“Kathryn Bigelow, a unique figure in Hollywood, got a big budget for ”K-19: The Widowmaker,’ she continued. “The director Patty Jenkins’s ‘Wonder Woman’ will arrive in 2017. No other woman in Hollywood has directed a $100 million live-action film.”
One up-and-coming-female writer and director, Leslye Headland, who made this fall’s “raunchy” rom-com ”Sleeping With Other People,” co-starring Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie, spoke to Dowd about the different treatment for women compared to men.
“Quentin Tarantino can make ‘Pulp Fiction’ for $8 million and you can slap him on any magazine,” Headland said. ”He’s the poster boy. He was for me. I want to be that guy even though he looks like a foot. God bless him, and he can do whatever he wants to my feet. But with a female director, you’re just not celebrated the same way.”
”Without the benefit of Google, ask anybody to name more than five female filmmakers that have made more than three films,” Headland continued. “It’s shockingly hard.”
Dowd sprinkled in glaring statistics throughout the piece, like the fact that in both 2013 and 2014, women made up just 1.9 percent of the directors for the 100 top-grossing films.
”It’s kind of like the church,” Anjelica Huston told Dowd. ”They don’t want us to be priests. They want us to be obedient nuns.”
Hollywood men weren’t exactly sympathetic in speaking with Dowd. ”A lot of ‘em haven’t tried hard enough… we’re still slow at anything but white guys,” one “top entertainment boss” told her.
Another “powerful Hollywood player” told Dowd to “call some chicks” instead of speaking to him.
Dowd traced back where the sexism in Hollywood epidemic began to 1975’s cult classic “Jaws,” when “Hollywood got hooked on the cohort of 15-year-old boys.”
“It has never wavered in this obsession, even though girls and women buy half the movie tickets and watch more TV series, and even though teenage boys are increasingly fixated on gaming,” Dowd wrote.
Director and actress Penny Marshall told Dowd that Hollywood has boiled down to men in capes, created by other men.
“All they like is ‘Superman,’ ‘Batman,’ those kinds of things, because it sells foreign, because it doesn’t have a lot of dialogue,” Marshall said.
“Even the comedies are sophomoric. They remake things that are lying there while the people who have done it already are still alive. I’ve read and seen horrible stuff. Sometimes the people who are in charge of things are a little dumb.”
Watch TheWrap’s interview with Helen Mirren on Hollywood sexism below.