Yesterday was National Women’s Equality Day, and in recognition of that the women of Broadway posed as Rosie the Riveter all across social media. I’m a little late the party, but for my own small part on this, the day after National Women’s Equality Day, I’ll direct you to this recent Funny or Die video:
Statistical report after statistical report confirms that Hollywood is run by affluent white guys (surprise, surprise), and as such the people hired to produce, direct, write and/or star in the biggest American movies and TV shows are predominantly of the white guy persuasion. In some areas, things are slowly getting better, in other areas they aren’t. Of particular concern has been the near complete lack of women getting the opportunity to direct live-action big budget movies. Every couples of months some new list is published (like this one and this one and this one) suggesting so-and-so female director for the high profile job of the moment (e.g., Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel), online commentators clearly attempting to advance the cause and present Hollywood-types with lists of qualified female candidates. However, such lists always carry the caveat that they’re written under the assumption that any of the women listed are actually interested in the job. That’s a pretty huge assumption to make, although Jurassic World Colin Trevorrow recently discovered it’s dangerous to assume women aren’t interested in those types of job.
Still, some of the women who end up on such lists are, in fact, not interested in making either those kinds of movies (comic books, insane action, etc.) or having their unique vision for the material diluted by a corporate structure which favors the producer over the filmmaker (as was Ava DuVernay’s reason for pre-emptively walking from Black Panther). Lake Bell is one such female director who’s landed on many a list, thanks to her directorial debut, 2013’s In a World, various episodes of Adult Swim’s Children’s Hospital, and an upcoming Jeff Bridges movie she’ll helm. However, she recently told More magazine, “If I campaign to direct some humongous studio picture, it will take me years, and that takes away from the five other projects I want to write and direct and make with my friends. To me, it’s just not as sexy as making what you want with the people you want and not having to operate in fear. No creativity is ever birthed through a canal of fear.” Counter to that, Punisher: War Zone‘s Lexi Alexander is so in love with the brilliant Kamala Khan version of Ms. Marvel in the comics right now she joked on Twitter that she’d direct a Ms. Marvel movie for free.
What’s interesting about the Funny or Die video is that it actually gathered together many of the female directors who end up on the various lists I mentioned and showed them having a bit of fun, play-acting every female director’s nightmare pitch scenario in which casually sexist white male studio suits have no clear idea what they want or are too stupid to clearly communicate what they want. The women featured in the video are Catherine Hardwicke (the first Twilight movie), Nisha Ganatra (multiple indie movies before directing 3 episodes of Amazon Prime’s Transparent), Nicole Holofcener (Friends With Money, Please Give and most recently Enough Said), Shira Piven (Welcome to Me) and Anne Fletcher (choreographer-turned director responsible for 27 Dresses, The Proposal, The Guilt Trip and Hot Pursuit). Bringing his signature New Girl bravado to the part of the head white studio suit was Max Greenfield.
When Lake Bell says she has no interest in campaigning for a humongous studio picture, that nightmare scenario with Greenfield and pals is probably the type of meeting she’s hoping to avoid for the rest of her life. Additionally, even thought this is just a funny video with an exaggerated scenario, one does wonder how many meetings Hardwicke, Ganatra, Holofcener, Piven and Fletcher have had which weren’t too dissimilar.