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Published on July 28th, 2011 | by Yellow Magpie

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How Hollywood’s Sexism Is Killing The Movies

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There is an invasive problem in Hollywood which has become almost intrinsic in western cinema. This is the unforgiveable focus on youth in women’s roles to the detriment of talent and acting ability. While employing such tactics may result in having superficially attractive, aesthetically pleasing talent – cinema and the movie-going audience are suffering as a result.

Having such young, often talentless actresses in leading roles removes better qualified, more able women. It is questionable whether a mainstream audience would ever have seen the abilities and talents of Kristen Wiig, the lead actress in Bridesmaids, if she had not co-written the film and developed the character of Annie, herself.

‘This is the travesty of the Hollywood system, so many talented actresses are being ignored.’

Paradoxically, being the ‘wrong’ side of thirty in Hollywood made it very difficult for a relatively unknown cinema actress to become a lead, yet her age probably provided her with more greater advantages than a twenty-something actress.

This is the travesty of the Hollywood system, so many talented actresses are being ignored. You have to ask yourself the question how many Kristen Wiig’s have slipped by the rather small net? Would they have been ludicrously deemed too old? Probably.

‘There are still some countries which place special pride in older female actors’

Instead there is a very limited quota of established actresses, many of which are over-rated. For women, Hollywood is like a pyramid with many young, disposable actresses at the bottom and the rarer, older actresses at the top.

There are still some countries which place special pride in older female actors. France being one of the better exponents of this with their films much better as a result.

Like any career, or skill, it takes a lot of time to become a competent actor. Researchers have found that ten thousand hours, or ten years, of dedication are required to even begin to master a discipline. With this in mind we can ask ourselves the question how many of today’s Hollywood actresses have been in their profession for ten years or more? How many have been playing only adult parts for this duration?

There is a supreme difference between adult and child roles. Playing child roles is very often less demanding as the characters are ill-defined due to children being too young to have a properly developed sense of self. Passable on-screen portrayals are often enough to receive plaudits and praise from critics.

‘how come films are not packed full of women in their early 30s right up instead of teenie weenies barely out of play-school?’

The standard is far greater for an adult. Adult roles demand much more, gone is the ability to rely on precociousness and expectations are much higher. That is one of the chief reasons why many childhood actors fail to make the transition to adult success. They simply are not good enough.

What is true for children is often just as true for young actresses in their late teens and twenties. Remember it takes ten years to get good at something. So how come films are not packed full of women in their early 30s right up, instead of teenie weenies barely out of play-school?

‘The lack of older women in cinematic roles is purely an issue of sexism and objectification’

Films are generally made by middle-aged men. The majority of producers, studio executives, directors and writers are nearly all male, the vast bulk of which are forty years-plus old. The lack of older women in cinematic roles is purely an issue of sexism and objectification. It certainly does not apply to male actors who are free to appear in films until they die.

Gradually, a subtle transition is occurring but is not coming from cinema but rather television. Series such as Nurse Jackie, The Good Wife and to a lesser extent, Desperate Housewives are leading the way, providing an example for women and Hollywood to follow.

The sooner there is equality between men and women on screen, the better for the film industry. Who knows how many talented and highly-gifted actresses are out there ready to transform cinema. They deserve a chance to shine.


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