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“Hollywood’s Shortage of Female Power” April 26, 2007

Posted by lindamc in female executives, Female Power, marketing gender, new york times, Power.

In the Arts section of today’s NY Times, there was an article about the lack of female execs and even stars in pictures. We talked explicitly about this before in class, but the article literally says that there are often “women movies” or movies made explicitly for women. “They are nervous about the disappearance of many of the movie world’s most visible female power brokers and concerned that a box office dominated by seemingly male-oriented action films like “300” means less attention for movies that have obvious appeal to female audiences, 51 percent of moviegoers.” The article goes on to mention how we are in a “boys era” and how many female execs are losing out to male counterparts in vying for power roles in “a power play” or by not “meshing well” with athougher male execs. And, there has been a decline in  the chick flick money market (or in my opinion the quality of writing in the films…but that isn’t said by the article). The end talks about how it is a lot less about character writing  more about opening weekend and so special effects and action movies are what sells in the US and overseas. Anyway, this article is pretty much our class, and so a really interesting read.



1. elizabethwilkes - April 26, 2007

One thing that I found particularly interesting about this article is the author’s point that the shift away from the “chick-flicks” that dominated cinemas in the 90’s is in a large part due to the fact that the tastes of female viewers are moving away from the genre. Women just aren’t as interested in warm, fuzzy romantic comedies as they once were. An interesting stat that the article cites is that 50% of the audience of the recent horror film Hostel was female. I’ve noticed that the movie tastes of the tweens and teens has shifted as well. Can’t Hardly Wait teen flicks seem to have been replaced by shock-humor movies of the Old School variety. A trend- both demographics have moved away from the warm, the fuzzy, the comfortable. I wonder if this reflects the hardening of a society that is over-exposed to sex and violence.

The boy-meets-girl thing has been done a thousand times, and now people are craving movies that have shock-value, that are cutting-edge, and that are chock full of special effects. As a female consumer who has personally experienced this shift of interest in my own viewing choices, I’m hesitant to condemn the change. The bottom line is that recent technological advancements in filmmaking that have significantly altered the whole concept of the moviegoing “experience” lend themselves to more masculine films, such as 300 and Pirates of the Caribbean. It be this technology that is leaving “women’s pictures” in the dust.

2. erinsull - April 28, 2007

One thing I found really interesting was Ms. Lansing’s (the “dean of female Hollywood movie executives”) assertion that the decline in female executives is a result of the shift in why movies are made. Basically movies are now made more to make money then to send any kind of message. Big business Hollywood is all about box office figures and profit margins, not about portraying the most fully developed characters or profound stories. This isn’t a radical point, it is widely accepted to talk about the general dumbing down of the movie business and how producers make creative decisions based on money. It is why we have so may PG-13 movies, because studios want the tween set to be able to go, because that is where the money is.

Ok so point made and accepted, now what does this have to do with women? Is Lansing saying that female executives aren’t as comfortable forgoing quality in the pursuit of making money? This is making a big distinction between male and female power. On the one hand it is complimentary, saying that female executives see the value in quality movies that are trying to say something important. They then are not contributing to the dumbing down of America in the same way. But does this mean their inherent femaleness is getting in the way of their success. This analysis has implications about the roles of women in positions of power outside the movies. She is assuming that these women value the integrity of movies. So are women not able to separate themselves from their values to make the best pragmatic decisions in the way men are? Can we really generalize and say women care more about integrity then money and power? I’m sure women in major studios know just as much as men the trend in Hollywood towards “dumber” more commercially viable movies. Women who rise to executive positions know what they are getting into, and I would like to believe have chosen that career path because they are ready to make the same pragmatic decisions as men.

Ms. Lansing also talks about “lifestyle choices”, basically saying that women are choosing children and family over high-powered positions that are completely time consuming. This has interesting implications in our discussion of motherhood. Is this another case of women needing to choose between motherhood and power?

3. dumbing down movies for tweens « The Tween Scene - April 29, 2007

[…] about the lack of female executives behind the scenes in studios, and it prompted an interesting discussion over at the main blog about how the movies that are greenlighted are the ones that make the most […]

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