Depth Charges

A way to get things off my chest.

Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 12.13.37 PMFirst take a good look at the picture on the right, then come back and finish reading.

From now on if you’re one of those people who likes to figure out where to point the blame:

  • at the screenwriter for not writing roles for [insert whatever demographic suits you];
  • at the director or producer for not hiring [insert whatever demographic suits you];
  • at the tv stations for not developing shows about [insert whatever demographic suits you];
  • etc.

Remember, at its core Hollywood isn’t about creating art or great films or spreading political messages or taking up various causes (they can, of course, do any of these, it’s just not there core drive). Hollywood is driven by one thing and one thing only. Money. So there is no one to blame – not even Adam Sandler – but each individual who goes to a movie and pays for it. Because that is the loudest voice Hollywood hears. So until [insert whatever demographic suits you] makes money don’t expect it to see equality on the big screen. Think about it, in the last 10 years what is the largest demographic growth for movies? Teenagers. And now we’re seeing a rash of Young Adult novels turned into films. And they make a heck of a lot of money. One interesting side effect of this is to see what happens with women’s roles over the next decade. Because most of the truly successful YA films have lead females I’m willing to bet this is going to effect the number of female leads carrying films.

The people that jump on a cause and want to claim that Hollywood must change its time to diversity or whatever are trying to cure the problem where it doesn’t exist. Hollywood doesn’t care. It doesn’t have an agenda for equality or ANYTHING except as a business to make money. If you want to see more movies in other arenas (i.e. demographics) than either stick to indie films (which are often much better anyway) or convince the public to want something else. That is the only way Hollywood will listen, because as a smart business they work on the idea of supply and demand. If the public isn’t demanding they aren’t going to supply it. Tyler Perry is a great showcase for this. How many of his films have a caucasian actor playing the main character? Why? Is it because he hates white people? Of course not, it’s because he understands his market and he markets his films to them. So why does everybody want to tell Hollywood how to choose their markets?

I am not a fan of Adam Sandler films. I don’t find them funny and I find them often painful to sit through. That statistic above blew my mind. I honestly didn’t understand how he keeps making movies because I hear a lot of people say they don’t like Adam Sandler films. In one line, that photo answered my question.

ADDENDUM 2021: This is working exactly as one would expect. Over the past five years, we’ve seen some female-led films finally starting to earn a higher box office revenue so guess what Hollywood is doing. They’re finally pushing more female-led films, both in terms of in front of and behind the camera. Hollywood gets to make more money.

Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 5.55.21 PM

First let me state up front I am totally for more women in positions of artistic decision making, it can only make the artistic value of film better and that, in my opinion is a fantastic thing. I think there are so many stories that need to be told and seeing them from vantage points that I frankly don’t relate to initially are so awesome to come across. My fascination with Kurosawa (yes, he’s not female 😛 but culturally it’s ‘greek’ to me) started young and I still find my favorite filmmakers are the ones who illuminated something for me that I never could have done myself.


But here’s why I do not like articles like this:

1) This statistic has been beat to death. About every seven or eight years (last time it was in the heyday of Nicole Kidman) there’s a year where woman really shine through and this gets debated. Again.

2) They selectively use statistics that are effectively useless (75% of all speaking roles are for men, who the heck cares?). A better statistic would be to show what is the gross receipts of films with woman as the main character versus men as the main character. Remember that last time, did you know that Nicole Kidman CONSISTENTLY ranks as one of the highest LOSS/GAIN actors in Hollywood? Meaning companies earn significantly less money on her films then they pay her.

3) The reason why 2) is important is because hollywood is a business. A BUSINESS. Yes, I know all of us touch feely artists wish it were otherwise but it’s not going to happen. IT’S A BUSINESS. And until they get a return on cash that is the same as men, you will continue to see male dominated films. The ONLY way to change this is with your bank account. The funny thing about Blue Jasmine (and I am a huge Cate Blanchett fan) is that it doesn’t even fall into the category described here. Other that Cate Blanchett as the main character the cast is heavily male (though not nearly as some films). And check out the crew, of the six major positions in the crew (director, producer, cinematographer, writer, production design, and editing) there are 12 names and two of them are women.

A combat instructor once said to me: “From now on, when dealing with crazy/possibly violent people, you will lose every argument. You are always wrong. You are sorry for impinging on their day. You will apologize and apologize again. You will back the f**k down. You will put your tail between your legs. You will let them talk about your ladyfriend. You will let them call your mother and your dad names. You have no ego. 

“You do all this because if you are the one to start a fight, by default that fight now has a gun in it. And if you start losing, you’re going to pull it and kill him. And even if you don’t go to jail because you could convince the jury that it was self-defense, you’re going to have to live with the fact that you could have saved someone’s life and yet you let your ego kill someone.”