Organisation: Centre for the Study of Women in Television & Film
For the second part of my case study, I have decided to slightly shift my focus from news media to film and television, as this is where my true interest is in. Television and Film are incredibly powerful forms of media that unconsciously effect the way we perceive the people and things around us. It is therefore essential that we address the issue regarding the portrayal of women in film and television, as this will be act as a major stepping point towards gender equality.
Before I introduce the subject of this case study, I would like to give some context into the issue. As you may or may not have heard, this year saw the release of a female-led remake of the classic 1984 horror comedy “Ghostbusters”. Many of the reactions from fans, even before the film was released, was misogynistic and led to the film’s trailer being one of the most disliked videos on YouTube. Although many claim that the hateful comments and reactions were due to the trailer’s lack of laughs, there is no denying that many were simply against the idea that women could be leads in a big-budget Hollywood film.
For the last 18 years, The Centre for the Study of Women in Television & Film, which was founded by Dr. Martha Lauzen (who is also part of the film and television faculty at San Diego State University), has conducted the most comprehensive research regarding the role of women in film & television. The research is not limited to just actresses. It also includes the women who work behind the scenes and even film critics, and unfortunately the results are rather alarming.
The report “It’s a Man’s (Celluloid) World: Portrayals of Female Characters in the Top 100 Films of 2015” investigated the way women were represented on-screen in some of the highest-grossing films of that year, and although the results were an improvement on 2014, which according to the report “was an exceptionally poor year for women” (Lauzen 2015, pg.1), there is still some work to be done. For example, the report states that “Gender stereotypes were prevalent in the top grossing films of 2015” (Lauzen 2015, pg.1) and that it was more likely that women would be more remembered for their marital status than their occupation, which is extremely worrying. Interestingly, however, the report states that “films with at least one woman director and/or writer, females comprised 40% of all speaking characters” as opposed to films directed by males where “females accounted for 30% of all speaking characters” (Lauzen 2015, pg.4). It is evident then that employing more female directors and writers would go some way into rectifying the issue of the representation of women in film & television.
Lauzen, M 2015, “It’s a Man’s (Celluloid) World: Portrayals of Female Characters in the Top 100 Films of 2015”, Centre for the Study of Women in Film & Television, San Diego State University, pg. 1-4