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Oscar Watch: Looking at Gender and the Oscars

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by Melissa Silverstein
February 23, 2012 10:02 AM
2 Comments
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Stacy L. Smith, Marc Choueiti and Stephanie Gall of USC have taken a look at gender onscreen and behind the scenes in the best picture nominees over the last 30 years.  There are two sets of findings - films made from 2007-2010 (so that would be the Oscars from 2008-2011, and films from 1977-2010.

Here are some of the findings:

2007-2010 - Best Picture Nominees (30 total- the last two years the best picture nominees had 10)

  • Women and girls make up 32.6% of all speaking roles onsceen
  • Women make up 14.3% of the the directors. (Lovleen Tanden, Lone Scherfig, Debra Granik, Kathryn Bigelow, Lisa Cholodenko)
  • Women make up 12.3 % of all writers.
  • Women make up 23.9 of producers.

From the full group 1977-2010 (180 films)

  • There has been an increase in women's speaking roles onscreen over time. 
  • The amount of women directors has improved tremendously over time - from negligible to pathetic.
  • Films with a female screenwriter feature more female protagonists.
  • There are more younger women onscreen than older women onscreen.

Here are my takeaways

When there are more best picture nominees there are more women directed films included.  The stats do not include this year (where there were no women directed films nominated for best picture) but the stats are clear.  Open it up wider, you get more women.  That's why I liked the 10 best picture nominees.  It worked for 2010 and 2011.  This year with 9 nominees, it did not work.

It's no surprise that there are more female directors in the last 4 years than the previous 26.  Women were still trying to break into the business.  If you look at the women who directed movies in the 50s 60s and 70s there are barely a handful.  It was only in the 80s that women started to get any traction and we know that it is still extremely difficult.  As I said, it went from negligible to pathetic.

Women write about women.  No surprise. 

Women and girls are sexualized onscreen and there is still a bias against older women.

Academy Award-nominated movies lack females, racial diversity (USC)

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2 Comments

  • Bes | February 24, 2012 3:49 PMReply

    Censorship of your comments is a mistake if you want to be a site with an authentic female viewpoint.

  • David | February 26, 2012 11:58 AM

    So true, pretty much any feminist related site censors the ever living crap out of anything that doesn't bash whatever the article is against. If you disagree with it, argue it or flat out call it idiotic that comment will never be seen. Therefore that site loses any credibility imho.

    Take for instance this person and this blog. Their focus is on idiotic and sometimes non existent sexism in the entertainment industry..while in 3rd world countries women literally do not have rights..Talk about mixed up priorities.

    People give credit where credit is due. Bridesmaids? The Help? This isn't the 1950s anymore. Theres no sexism. A movie studio only has one goal in mind and that is to make money. They only care about money. They want money and they crave more of it. If someone presents them with a good script that they know will MAKE MONEY..I highly highly doubt they will go "no you're a woman"..Present them with something that make a profit from and your gender would not matter even in the slightest..

    Point being has it ever occurred to people that women just aren't good at it? Or maybe the women that have tried wrote horrible idiotic cliched scripts and they were scrapped? Just sayin..

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