Is Hollywood film industry unequal?

“There are 52% of women in our society and just a 20% of female roles”. That’s what the Spanish actress Cuca Escribano said in the Spanish Academy Goya Awards red carpet with a shawl in which we could read “More female roles”. But what about women characters in Hollywood film industry?

Women in Hollywood films are young, white and heterosexual. All characters that don’t accomplish with those stereotypes have fewer opportunities to appear in the big screen. Despite beauty canons and women stereotypes are part of the film industry and underrepresent women, there is a general bigger problem which is related with gender inequality.

Female roles are represented as less important than male characters. On one hand, if we want to analyze female roles we should pay attention to her characteristics such as her personality, life goals or her job. On the other hand, is also interesting to have a look at her role in the film. That means she can be the principal actor, a coprotagonist or just a supporting actor.

Although sometimes we find a female hero with very strong qualities in a film, maybe her aim is just helping the male hero to do something big. An example of this could be Princess Leia in the Star Wars Saga as she is probably the most important character in the film but the hero is Luke Skywalker. On the contrary, most female protagonist characters represent “the wife of”, “the widow of” or “the mother of” and that makes things even worse.

In the Oscars nomination from this year, among the artists that opt the prize to the best protagonist actress only two characters represent independent women. Isabelle Hupert in Elle play the role of the director of a videogame enterprise and Emma Stone in Lalaland have the role of an actress. The other actresses perform the role of the wife of a builder (Ruth Negga in Loving), the widow of Kennedy (Natalie Portman in Jackie) or an heir (Meryl Streep in Florence Foster Jenkins). Among the actresses that opt the prize of the best cast actress just one performs the role of a mathematician (Octavia Spencer in Hidden Figures), the other characters are “wives of” or “mothers of”.

If not even in film actress perform the role of independent woman what do we expect about real life in Hollywood? None woman directors have been nominated, as neither any woman opt to collect the award for best assembly, the best visual effects, best short fiction or best short animation. Just one woman opt to be award-winner as scriptwriter, documentary, short documentary or sound mixing, two women as sound assembly, three in production design and as the best costume all the candidates are women this year so judge for yourselves.

Author: Paula Mateo


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