A few weeks ago, I stopped by my neighborhood CVS for one-person party supplies and a current-events refresher, delivered as usual: via magazine covers. Forget the tabloids — some dude can sneeze his wife’s hair off, sure, and Dick Cheney probably is a robot; it’s Glamour that’s out of control. February’s cover featured Shakira; perfect date outfits; and 1,001 men answering all your questions about “Sex, Your Body, Babies, and Falling in (and out of) Love.”
“Men teaching women about women,” I said to my BFF cashier (she always lets me use expired ExtraReward coupons), holding up a copy. “Like anyone would buy that.” We rolled our eyes, we had a good laugh. Then I went home and watched the Golden Globes extol the lifetime achievement of Woody Allen: writing for women.
And while Diane Keaton whisper-sang about friendship and the supposed “feature” of Allen’s writing, his “four decades of unforgettable female characters,” and while I tried not to toss up a whole sleeve of Nutter Butters (and not just because I ate a whole sleeve of Nutter Butters), no female writers were waiting to hear their names called out, despite a guess-the-number jelly-bean fishbowl’s worth of could’ve-been candidates.
That’s right: no women were nominated for writing, but a man won the Cecil B. Demille award for recreating his female fantasy 74 times over. The same man who, less than a month later, was yet again sputtering over public accusations of having sexually assaulted his adopted daughter; the same man who straight-up lied to save face and assassinate the character of his wife and that same seven-year-old daughter. So I’m sorry, Diane Keaton, but also I’m not — if he’s a man, if he’s Woody Allen, I’m not caring about Annie Hall.
Lauding Woody Allen is the standard for creating fictional women is a criticism of the film industry, not cause for ceremony.
But as it now stands, that’s all the Golden Globes are good for. It’s all empty spectacle, a Mad Men’s club, the same-olds congratulating each other on their same-olds. And the Academy Awards are hardly any better. Sometimes we get a triumphant upset — Callie Khouri winning without a male writing partner, Kathryn Bigelow besting her douchey ex — but the statistics are still pretty grim. Before Bigelow, three women, all white, had been nominated for feature-length directing; since Bigelow, there’ve been… Hang on, let me count…
But it’s not for want of effort, or interest, or women who are just as good or better than the men stealing their stories. “There is no lack of female directors,” writes Lexi Alexander, a director co-nominated in 2003 for her short film. “But there is a huge lack of people willing to give female directors opportunities.” Even though movies about women sell like cronuts worldwide, movies made by women can’t get funding in the US. And that leads us right on back to our old fave: the beloved boys’ club of award winning.
Because award shows are the Hollywood equivalent of student council elections, held at a high school particularly commanded by social hierarchy. Each time the Woody Allens of the world accept their zillionth directing/writing/student body acolade, they’re promising unlimited pizza lunches and smooth-sailing for every asshat prodigy that comes along: the David O. Russells, the Lars Von Triers, that kid in your film class who writes about Michael Bay for every term paper. There are hundreds like them with awards collecting dust on bookshelves, so it’s safe for production companies to back hundreds more — and that will never change if the Academy continues to ignore female filmmakers.
Until then, the sparkling song and dance of film awards will only ever serve as distraction from our yearly place-putting: little golden statues are for the men behind the camera, not the women. Men control our stories. Men create our idols. Men make our movies. Just last week, CBS green-lit a film about Susan Fornoff, one of the first female sports reporters, and all the main players are, of course, men: Jon Turteltaub’s directing, Karim Zreik’s producing, and Joel Silverman’s writing a screenplay about what it was like for a woman fighting for the same industry rights as her male counterparts —
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it. And it sounds like —
Well, I’d say it sounds like a good movie, but when it comes to men telling our stories, when it comes to the people we aren’t telling us who and how we should be, I’ve got to quote my favorite philosopher (with a fantastic culotte collection):
Lindsay is the co-founder of Full-On Monets. She’s also hungry, both for Subway and your words. Feed her stories at firstname.lastname@example.org.