If you’re anything like me, then you probably like reading depressing statistics about the state of “women in film” and then whipping yourself into apoplexies of rage about it all.
Fortunately it’s been a banner year for discussions on that front, since the 2013 cinema landscape is one so heavily populated by men that in a Freudian typo I just wrote “ladscape”.
You probably read Linda Holmes terrific – if grim – piece for NPR, At The Movies, The Women Are Gone back in June. (I have, many times, shaking my head slowly each time.) Holmes said, of the early summer releases of the year (pre female-led The Heat): “In many, many parts of the country right now, if you want to go to see a movie in the theatre and see a current movie about a woman – any story about any woman that isn’t a documentary or a cartoon – you can’t. You cannot. There are not any. You cannot take yourself to one, take your friend to one, take your daughter to one. There are not any.”
(Indeed, sometimes it feels as though the only place I can see films of this ilk – i.e. ones that feature women as protagonists – is on my laptop whenever Netflix comes up with hyper-specific custom genres like “Emotional Period Pieces Featuring a Strong Female Lead”.)
Spurred on by Holmes’ piece, Vulture’s Amanda Dobbins did some research: was 2013 significantly worse for women on screen than previous years Her findings, which manage somehow to be simultaneously surprising and deadeningly predictable, are: no, it’s been like this for about a quarter of a century.
Focusing strictly on wide-release films (ones that were shown on a minimum of 1000 screens across the USA in the more recent era, and on 500 or more from 1993 back through 1989), Dobbins assessed the percentage of films released that featured one woman in a co-starring role, more than one woman in a co-starring role, and women in starring roles.
You may be heartened to know that much like end of the world scenarios, alien invasions, animations about insects, and found footage horror movies, “women”, it turns out, are just another Hollywood trend.