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Manohla Dargis on the Perks of Being a Male Director

by Inkoo Kang
April 7, 2014 12:27 PM
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Anthony and Joe Russo

Film critic Manohla Dargis continues her efforts to lay bare studio filmmaking's institutional sexism. 

In her review of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, published last week, she wrote in The New York Times of the movie's directors:

The Russos have directed a few other movies, including Welcome to Collinwood (2002), a redo of the 1958 Italian satire Big Deal on Madonna Street that was produced by Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney. That movie didn't go anywhere, but, having been put on the industry map with that kind of patronage, it's no surprise that the brothers went on to have a busy decade in television, working as directors and sometimes executive producers for the smart sitcom likes of Arrested Development and Community. In between, they also directed another movie, You, Me and Dupree. It was a dud, but it didn't matter. In the magical world of big-screen entertainment, some guys get all the breaks and also the keys to the studio gate, meaning a franchise like this.

Not to take anything away from Anthony and Joe Russo, but Dargis points precisely to the privileges many male directors enjoy that their female counterparts do not. Namely, advocates at the top of the food pyramid, TV work to sustain them between film gigs, and most importantly, virtual immunity from past critical or commercial failures. These perks add up to professional and financial circumstances that afford male directors a second, third, and fourth step on their career ladders. 

Dargis has pointed the gender discrimination in favor of male directors before, such as this gem of an insight last year: "The great irony is that women are accused of making romantic comedies, as if it's a bad thing, but [(500) Days of Summer director] Marc Webb makes a romantic comedy and he gets Spider-Man [as his next project]. Are you kidding me? You cannot win."
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  • Budmin | April 9, 2014 7:26 PMReply

    Manohla Dargis needs to understand that

    1) Sony was desperate to mirror the financial success of the Twilight franchise. They were in fact looking for a Rom-Com director that could bring women/young girls into the theaters.

    2) Joseph Gordon-Levitt's charter in 500 Days of Summer was the best "Peter Parker" archetype ever put on film.


  • Fouad Ramses | April 11, 2014 6:24 PM

    @BUDMIN -- Um, no, it's MARC WEBB, but don't let the facts get in the way of your argument.

  • jsaogima | April 7, 2014 1:04 PMReply

    In a perfect world we would see their rise to the top as being due to a particularly ingrained silver spoon and not because of their gender. Ask a working nobody male director trying to bust in the business making a first film if he thinks he doesn't have to worry if his movie is shit or not.

    Bring down the cross is all I'm saying.

  • MHK | April 8, 2014 8:03 AM

    Bring down the cross?! Oh please. The (very clear) point is that if a woman had directed "Welcome to Collinwood" or "You Me and Dupree" there's no way in hell she'd get to direct Captain America next.

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