Lady Problems is a weekly column that looks at how the entertainment industry — and its corresponding culture and constituents — is treating women in a given week. (Hint: It will almost always be “poorly.”) Every Thursday we’ll review the week's most significant woman-centric conflicts, then provide a brilliant solution to each problem that nobody in Hollywood will ever listen to or enforce.
The Lady Problem: Hidden Figures, which stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe as three genius NASA workers who beautifully (albeit only temporarily, because America) fuck up the white supremacist patriarchal shitshow that was our country in the 1960s, has made a total of nearly $60 million after only two weeks in wide release. It’s also been No. 1 at the box office both of those weeks, meaning it beat out La La Land, a movie about a white dude mansplaining jazz that has received a total of 1 million awards; Monster Trucks, a movie about a monster who lives in a truck; and Patriots Day, wow, this movie really happened.
In other words, Hidden Figures demolished some white-ass, dude-ass movies, therefore (... again) negating that thing where studio heads are like, “But movies about black people and movies about women never sell, so THAT’S why we don’t make them, not because we’re morally bankrupt monsters hell-bent on maintaining our wrinkly dicked spot at the top.” Keep that in mind as we descend the staircase to hell together now.
This week, two new pieces of research were released that analyzed 2016’s entertainment offerings. The first study, conducted by writer Amber Thomas, revealed that women only said 27 percent of the words in last year’s biggest movies. (Though I’m risking going over my preordained word quota for the horror film that is this mortal life, I’ll go on.) Thomas looked at the top 10 highest-grossing movies of 2016 — including Captain America: Civil War, Deadpool, Suicide Squad, and Zootopia — and transcribed or found existing transcriptions of each, cataloguing each line of dialogue spoken aloud and each speaking character by gender. The deeply depressing but deeply unsurprising results: The cast of every single film she studied was dominated by men; not a single film saw speaking women characters make up even 50 percent of the cast. The closest any film got to equity was Finding Dory, whose female characters spoke 53 percent of the dialogue. I want to remind everyone that Finding Dory is a movie about an amnesiac fish. The only blockbuster movie in which women were equally represented in 2016 was in a movie about a fish who forgets stuff.
Meanwhile, across town ... San Diego State’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film released new numbers confirming that shit got worse, not better for female representation in Hollywood in 2016. Women made up just 7 percent of all directors in last year’s top 250 films, a 2 percent decline from 2015. In a few other areas studied — writing, producing, cinematography — things improved marginally, but overall, women comprised only 17 percent of the individuals working in the roles studied. In 2015, women comprised 19 percent. Math is very hard for us women, which is why we are often passed over for directing jobs, but to clarify, that’s another 2 percentage point drop.
Another fun fact: The opportunities for women working in top behind-the-camera roles haven’t improved in nearly 20 years. All the way back in 1998, a simpler time when we were not simultaneously facing nuclear war and the extreme plausibility of our own early deaths due to previously preventable conditions, female directors comprised 9 percent of the industry, and women comprised 17 percent of the industry overall. That is to say: Nothing is getting better, everything is getting worse, and we are all going to be robbed of our health insurance and die of appendicitis in Trump’s tacky-ass streets.
The Solution: As The Hollywood Reporter points out, things only improve for women when women are in charge of improving things for women. (Writes Gregg Kilday, “Women directors were often a key to progress because features with at least one woman director employed higher percentages of women writers, editors, cinematographers, and composers than did films with exclusively male directors. For example, on films with female directors, women comprised 64 percent of writers. On films with exclusively male directors, women accounted for just 9 percent of writers.”) We need to keep pushing to have women at the top, and when we make it to the top, we need to pull other women up there with us, until we have shoved all of the wrinkly dicks right off of the ledge.
Failing that — and we will fail, because our new president refuses to admit that climate change is real and we will not be able to reach this level of agency before the planet submits to our diabolical mortal whims — we will ensure that every male in charge of greenlighting shit is inflicted with the Dory Virus. Pillowy producers from New York to Los Angeles will lose their trains of thought every 90 seconds for the rest of their lives. In the middle of agreeing to finance a film in which Vin Diesel punches 100 cars in a row and then gets blown by Megan Fox on top of the Space Needle, Michael Bay will forget the entire plot of the film; Diablo Cody will sneak in during his fugue state and convince him to fork over $200 million for her Sweet Valley High franchise starring Courtney Love. Just as David O. Russell is beginning work on Blam City, starring a 26-year-old Jennifer Lawrence as a 58-year-old mob wife to Ray Liotta, with a supporting cast of Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, and all of the Afflecks, Ava DuVernay will swoop in and coax him into letting her rewrite and direct. She will turn the film into a sharp rom-com about Gugu Mbatha-Raw effortlessly seducing Kofi Siriboe, the hot-ass brother from Queen Sugar, then screaming “Blam City!!!!!!” every time they bone (she couldn’t change the title, sorry).
The Lady Problem: Why ... the fuck ... is this unholy object of Satan masquerading as an Emma Watson doll??????????????????????
The Solution: Somebody check on Emma Watson and make certain she has not transmuted her soul into this doll for the gift of immortality. If she has, we must purchase it in bulk and protect it so that Emma Watson’s soul is not eternally doomed to Hades. If this doll is, in fact, devoid of Emma Watson’s soul, and merely a weapon of the devil designed to confuse and terrify young children so that they do not see Beauty and the Beast — a film that propagates the dangerous concept that women are smart and deserve books and that inventing stuff is cool and that a lack of moral backbone will make you kinda ugly — we must destroy it.