Sexism in Hollywood: Whether Woman Can Gain Influence

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Out of 100 movies made in the Hollywood entertainment industry in 2015, only 32 movies featured a female leading character or co-lead character. Next to this, there is a bigger chance for females in the same industry to be sexualized than males. There is definitely an urgent issue of sexism in Hollywood to analyse in this essay. The female characters in movies are far more likely to be sketched thin, young and wearing revealing clothes.

The Ted Talk ‘’What’s it like to be a woman in Hollywood’’ by Naomi McDougall Jones is about how much gender inequality there is in the entertainment industry of Hollywood. Female actresses have as much desire to play an intelligent, complicated and striving character as any man. Instead of this, a lot of the female actresses have to play characters that are dumb, completely reliable of the man, slutty or a mom. This is not negative for women with an amazing body and great looks, but these roles are the main characters woman are casted for. Females in Hollywood are constantly reminded of how the public is not interested in movies with female leads that are just as or even more successful as the man and that when creating an all-female production company, people will not trust you with their money. This is strange because a study shows that films with females and directed by females have more revenue than the regular movies shown right now, directed by men. Movies affect more in our lives than we know. It affects your emotions, political opinions, career choices and hobbies. Out of all the American movies each individual has seen, 95% has been directed by men. This is strange because females graduate at the same rate from the film schools as men do. The only thing is that women don’t get as many opportunities as men do. Women do deserve the same opportunities to tell their own stories.

This information shows that there is a lot of gender inequality in Hollywood. Due to a lot of interest in the entertainment industry and a lot of trends and issues from Hollywood, the research question for this essay is: Can women gain influence in the entertainment industry in Hollywood? A simple answer is yes. The hard answer is, that women still have to work very hard to achieve goals like equality. This is not only for actresses but also for the directors and the women working behind the scenes. The gender pay gap is also a big issue in Hollywood. The Forbes list of highest paid actors and actresses in 2017, shows this all to well. Emma Stone is the highest paid actress with 26 million dollars. With this number, she ranks at the 15th place on the list of highest paid actors in the same year. The highest paid actor in that year was Mark Wahlberg with 68 million dollars. The big difference is due to the fact that there are more male leading characters with the opportunity to work in sequels like in the Marvel superhero movies. This essay is going to prove that women can indeed gain influence in the entertainment industry in Hollywood.

In 2010, Kathryn Bigelow won the best director award at The Oscars. This makes her the first female director ever to win that prize. Her low-budget movie ‘'The Hurt Locker'' took home six academy awards. She was the fourth woman to be nominated for that prize in 82 years. Kathryn Bigelow has been a strong female director in the male-driven industry and sees herself mainly as a film director, rather than a female film director. This shows that being well-driven and ambitious is the key element for chasing your dreams and breaking through the Hollywood wall. Reese Witherspoon has been fighting for gender equality in Hollywood’s industry for some time now. In 2012, she got offered a lead role for a movie. All the actresses wanted to play the part, but when she started reading and the character just wasn’t interesting and if this was the standard for female roles, what was wrong with society? In her career, she has seen the same movies directed by the same people and it’s getting boring. The industry needs some fresh air. Reese Witherspoon was at the ‘’#SheIsEqual’’ summit where she spoke about how she wants more chances for female stories to be told. She wants to show all women of shapes and sizes, that they can be whomever they want to be as long as they fight for it. She is a big voice in Hollywood and one of the first people to break through the taboo. That is why she started the company ‘’Time’s Up’’. This is a company that helps women all over the world to fight sexual harassment and gender equality in their workplace. Luckily, there are more strong female characters in the industry standing up for equality, like Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, Emma Watson, Michelle Obama and many more. They want to make the world a better place and are very determined to do so. All these women are strong-minded, ambitious and still kind-hearted and this shows that everything is possible.

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2017 has been the year of change. This has been the year where people finally started listening. With huge movies going in a premiere, like ‘’Wonder Woman’’ and ‘’Fifty Shades of Grey’’. These movies both hold the title of female-directed feature opening. This means, that in the opening weekend they have set a record for ticket sales. In 2015, the movie ‘’Fifty Shades of Grey’’ directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson earned over 85 million dollars. In 2017, the movie ‘’Wonder Woman’’ directed by Patty Jenkins topped that record with 100 million dollars. Naomi McDougall Jones and her colleagues studied over 1700 movies between 2011 and 2016. They looked at the investment made and the revenue and compared that with different roles, like a director, producer, screenwriter and lead actor and if gender has anything to do with it. The result is that in every category the revenue is higher when it's a woman. Next, to this, 51% of all movie tickets are sold to women and movies with women earn 23 cents extra on every dollar. With all these numbers it seems logical if Hollywood invests in these movies, but they only target 18% in these kinds of movies. This shows us that females are more than able to create amazing content and that the audience is actually interested in the stories that they want to share. Next to this, the numbers show that women are worth investing in. Women need to stop waiting for people to recognize this and start undertaking action in creating their own content and working together. Women are worth it.

‘’The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’’ members help decide who will be the nominees for The Oscars each year. These members are Hollywood veterans who previously have won Oscars for their own movie(s). The word ‘’veterans’’ says enough already. Most of the members are white men over the age of 70 years old. These veterans seem only to vote for film directors of their own age. Claiming movies of this time are too loud, have too much action or even refuse to watch them. The group of members is for 89% male, 84% white and half of them have the age of 60% or older. This group of people will never watch modern movies that feature relevant issues of today because it is just not interesting for them. They are only interested in movies that have to do with their past and own culture. The academy consists of 6,200 members with 17 different branches including writers, producers and actors. The directors and executives are the ones with the last word. 87% of the 450 executives are male and this shows that there is a big need for more diversity. Movie directors and executives in Hollywood keep constantly casting the same starts and the same staff. Next to that only the big directors or people with a good network in Hollywood have a chance to create a big movie. The academy is a mirror for the entertainment industry. It is a white and male world and they have no interest in anything that hasn’t a thing to do with themselves or how much they can make out of it. They are scared of the unknown and want to secure their own stability in the industry. On a positive note, a spokesperson of the academy has told that by 2020 they want to double the female and diverse members. This shows that the industry is capable of change, but they just need to be proven wrong at first. After all these years, the entertainment industry of Hollywood has grown self-invested and stubborn. The best way is to work together to create a new environment that is modern and invested in all sorts of people of gender and race.

As shown in the introduction there is a big issue in the entertainment industry of Hollywood and this is gender inequality. This goes from not earning the same wages to males and females not getting the same opportunities. In 2017, only 18% of all the people working on the top 250 domestic grossing movies were female. On television, the gender gap has changed positively in the last decades. Behind the scenes, it is sadly a different story. 82% of the staff working on the top 250 movies in 2017 were male. This means a dominant work area where it is easy to harass female workers. Most of the workers know they can get away with it, because of how the industry is formed and with the thought that they will not see that person very soon. As a female, you can only survive if you are a strong person, who is not afraid of a male-driven industry. In 2018, 20% of all the staff working on the top 250 domestic grossing movies were female. This means that there is an increase of 2% on females working behind the scenes in Hollywood. Still, 92% of the top 250 films had no female directors. This all shows there is actually something changing, but there is still a long way to go.

The #MeToo movement has been going strong for almost two years now. Since Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and actor Kevin Spacey got a lot of allegations about sexual harassment in the work field, more than 200 men in high positions have been fired. Hollywood is in the middle of an identity crisis. There is a lot of fear and tension because the people in the industry don’t know what to do. Warner Bros and 20th Century Fox got new owners at the same time as the #MeToo movement. There are so many different opinions and young people in the industry that have new creative visions, but there are still a lot of older people on the top that don’t understand the new visions because what they always have done, has worked so well for many years. This is very frustrating when there is such a new movement on the roll, where at the same time, old rules and traditions still apply with keeping the eyes shut for new innovative ideas. Disney bought 20th Century Fox and told its employees to hold on tight for a tough year since the company is family-friendly oriented. This means that a lot of people that don't fit the picture will have to look for a different job. AT&T has the same exact message for its new employees. This is all because of the #MeToo and Time's Up movements. People are ready for a change and the big companies are slowly following. This is a good perspective for the future.

The rise of female crew members. Before the #MeToo movement there were barely any females working on the film sets. Since the big blow up there has been a spotlight created for female empowerment in the entertainment industry in Hollywood. A lot of people have been waiting for different storylines, all-female crews and leading roles for women to tell stories that have to be told from a different perspective. The data shows that there is an audience out there waiting for these people to stand up. The changes are slowly happening, and the world is on the front line. 

All the arguments connect to one big storyline. There is a huge demand for new storylines and fresh thoughts industry, but Hollywood is rusted and has some issues with adapting to the new modern age. Due to the different movements and companies giving the issue a voice, ‘’The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’’ also finally realises that after decades it is time to make room for young and innovative filmmakers of all genders and ethnics. Since the ‘’#MeToo’’ and the ‘’Time’s Up’’ movements and big celebrities standing up for it, Hollywood finally realizes that it is time for a change. Both the movements, finally, made old problems come to the attention of Hollywood. This made everyone realise that is was time for a big chance and this happened when more than 200 big filmmakers and men in high positions lost their job or recognition.

The purpose of this essay was to prove that women can actually gain influence in the entertainment industry in Hollywood. In the Ted Talk, Naomi McDougall Jones tells the audience that it is actually possible for women in the film industry to make a movie and earn a lot of return on investment on it. There is simply not the same amount of opportunities for the women as for the man. Big names as Kathryn Bigelow and Reese Witherspoon are taking a stand for female actresses, directors and crew who encounter these problems. Kathryn Bigelow showed to Hollywood that female directors are indeed capable of creating amazing movies and Reese Witherspoon showed them with her new founded company ‘'Time's Up'', that sexual harassment and gender equality is not okay in not only Hollywood but all over the world. The statistics show that there is a big open spot, with an audience waiting for new storylines and every time a movie like that is released the sales are astonishing. This shows that there is so much potential. The inner circle of Hollywood is already slowly changing and that is very positive for an industry, where the same film directors and executives have been stuck in the same loop for over decades. There are more females and filmmakers from different ethnics added to the ‘’The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’’ and this is a big step in the right way. Last year, the females in the film crews in Hollywood increased with 2%. Next to this, big companies are taking over other companies and are pressuring their employees to work in a friendly and open environment. This indirectly pressures the rest of Hollywood to adjust as well. Since #MeToo and the ‘'Time's Up'' movements, there has been a major positive impact on the entertainment industry in Hollywood. More females are being put in the spotlight and finally, have the opportunity to show their work and tell their story. The conclusion of this statement is that women can gain influence in the entertainment industry in Hollywood.


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