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An Oscar-Nominated Director Gets Real About How Women Are Treated in Hollywood

Women and Hollywood By Lexi Alexander | Women and Hollywood January 14, 2014 at 10:54AM

If Hollywood were serious about diversity, it wouldn't fail at every turn.
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Look, everybody who was present during these negotiations reported back to us that Paris, Jay, and Co. fought and argued passionately for diversity and the women's cause. That's not up for debate here.

But can we please, please stop pretending that everybody is trying their best and that it's just an impossible task to accomplish?

It's this type of fake activism that drives me fucking crazy. JUST STOP!

Do you know who Kellan Elliott-McCrea is? No? Well let me introduce you:

Kellan Elliot-McCrea

He is the CEO of Etsy and someone who decided to make diversity a core value.

Because Etsy's customers are 80% women (hello, TV audience), gender diversity became a priority. His efforts in the first year to increase the number of female engineers failed. As a matter of fact, they saw a 35% decrease in gender diversity. He realized, "Something wasn't working, this was deeply broken." So he and his team put their heads together, reevaluated their plan, identified potential road blocks, came up with a new plan, and voila:

Etsy increased their female employees by 500%.

Now, Kellan may rock a hair-do reminiscent of a famous genius and clearly he must be wicked smart, but as far as I know he's not uniquely gifted in the IQ department.

But you know what he is? Sincere. He actually meant what he said, rather than having some mental masturbation session about gender equality.

Now, before you spit fire and release smoke out of your ears, just do me a simple favor and educate yourself about the history of diversity in Hollywood, because before I decided to take a stand on this, I did exactly that.

If you read only one thing, please read this report from 1978, when the EEOC investigated equal-employment practices in the motion picture industry.

Okay, so we know that people have seriously acknowledged that there is an problem back in 1978, thirty-five years ago. Promises were made even back then to "work diligently" to fix the imbalance.

The fact that there has been no improvement in thirty-five years can only really mean two things:

1) Those who have promised to bring about change were insincere.

or

2) Those who have promised to bring about change were not very smart.

You choose.

Can we all just be real for a second here? Ask yourself this: If diversity hiring were a sincere core value in Hollywood's studios, do you honestly believe they'd fail?

I'm going to end this with a personal opinion. Only this month, I received two meeting requests from companies whose mandate in 2014 is to hire more women, so the tide maybe shifting. And I do appreciate their effort so very much.

Truth: I loathe the idea of being hired because of my gender and I shudder at the thought that one day I show up on set and half of the crew thinks, "Here comes the quota hire."

When I was still fighting competitively [in world point fighting and karate], one of the best tournaments I ever attended was the Dacascos Open in Hamburg. They had a ranking system going on all year, but because I hadn't attended any other tournaments within their organization, I was given "wildcard" status, which meant I had to fight everybody, while their top fighters are automatically placed in the semi-finals. If I lose, I am out. Those were literally impossible, ridiculous odds, invented to discourage outsiders. It was also the best tournament I ever fought, and yes, I won it all. I thrive on impossible odds, always have.

I don't care if Hollywood dishes out the same impossible odds, I don't care if they built a wall as thick as the commies did in East Berlin, and I don't care if I have to be ten times as good as a male director to get 1/8th of the opportunities he gets... as long as people are honest about the game we're playing, the tournament we're fighting.

But don't tell me I'm not a wildcard when I so obviously am, and don't tell me you've been working diligently to eliminate the wildcard system, when in reality you're not.

Because then you're not only jerking me off, you are also dehumanizing me by not extending even an ounce of respect.

For future generations of girls, who may get the crazy idea that they too have stories to tell, it should become our core value to stop handing out wildcard status based on gender. 

To those who have promised to "work diligently" on increasing those abysmal, embarrassing statistics, I'd like to say this: If you find yourself stuck, hopeless, seemingly willing but utterly unable to remedy this gender disparity, head to this website the Swedes generously created for the public called Include Gender.

An entire toolbox full of ways to create a successful plan. Who knew?

This article is related to: Women Directors, Directors Guild of America, Lexi Alexander, Sexism


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