So what would it mean if a woman became president? Even if it wouldn't necessarily mean more female writer/directors, could it possibly mean that more stories about woman would become interesting, or (gasp) cool again? Last year's Oscar race had only two stories about women: Zero Dark Thirty and Beasts of the Southern Wild (about a young girl).
Going back ten years we can see there are far more films that feature stories about women than there are stories about any people of color. Even still, you're really looking at a 90% vs. 10% share here.
Zero Dark Thirty, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Winter's Bone, The Kids are All Right, Black Swan
The Blind Side, An Education, Precious
2008 1/5:The Reader
2007 1/5: Juno
2006 2/5: Little Miss Sunshine, The Queen
2005 1/5: None but maybe Crash
Million Dollar Baby
2003 1/5: Lost in Translation
While many of these characters are heroic, only a few of them are on Hillary Clinton's level. That sort of power is more comfortably given over to their male counterparts, at least where the Best Picture race is concerned. The Queen and Zero Dark Thirty are two notable exceptions. Otherwise, they aren't exactly powerful women being portrayed because these films necessarily reflect the culture. But what might happen if the power dynamic shifts even a little bit?
If an impossibility like that were to occur, what kind of impact would it have on the film industry, if any? No one would have guessed the Obama effect might materialize. It's quite possible these same films would still be made. But what can't be denied is the kind of old scabs Obama's presidency has picked -- racism is a hot topic again, in government, on Twitter and in pop culture. Why else would Lee Daniels have been inspired and enabled to make what is the best movie on the Civil Rights era to date?
The days of Jane Fonda, Faye Dunaway, Sally Field and Ellen Burstyn ruling the box office and Hollywood are over. In their place are much younger women who seem to get younger every year, their roles more spare. Sandra Bullock talked about this during the press conference for Gravity. She said she noticed something significant had changed since her career began. She looked around and she concluded that movies with women in the lead simply weren't being made anymore. It was a terrifying epiphany.
Still, I can't help but wonder what might happen if this country went through yet another transformative election. Will Hollywood execs start to look around and realize that their films aren't reflecting reality anymore? Will women become more empowered and thus speak up more often when all they're served at the dinner table is fantasy porn? Will that empowerment cause more resistance, as Obama's presidency has? Will writers and directors start inventing strong women in cinema again? Will critics find a cool enough female filmmaker to build a myth around -- or to see it from their perspective, will women start to make movies that are deserving of their approval?
I don't know what Hillary Clinton's presence as a world leader would do to change the minds of the five white guys in suits who run the Hollywood studios.
2016 is three years away with nothing but empty spaces that need to be filled everywhere you look. The American people voted Obama in. Twice. Hollywood had
to catch up. But that won't stop me from imagining what a woman in the White House might do, if, for no other reason, it would give some hope to the young
girls growing up who until now have only known the bleak landscape of role models Hollywood offers up.
________________________________________Sasha Stone is the founder of Awards Daily.