Thursday, April 18, 2013

Artistic Limitations Based on Gender

I recently came across a fascinating Vulture article that illustrates the film industry’s tendency to allow leading men to get older, but keep their female love interests around the same age.  They took 10 actors who typically play leading roles and graphed their age in a “representative sample” of their films in comparison to the women who played their wives, girlfriends, etc. in these films. Although this is not too groundbreaking of a revelation, the graphs that they provide are quite striking. I thought that this would be something with which Woolf would take issue.  In A Room of One’s Own, Woolf writes, “…it would have been impossible, completely and entirely, for any woman to have written the plays of Shakespeare in the age of Shakespeare” (p 46).  This gender barrier, or unequal representation, still exists in art today.  Though not as extreme as in Shakespeare’s time, this problem in the film industry is both inhibiting women and constructing an unrealistic standard.  By upholding this bizarre standard, Hollywood is telling women that they are not supposed to age past a certain number.  Not only is that misrepresenting reality, because, shockingly, both men and women age, but it is severely limiting older actresses. If they are constantly beat out by 25 year old females playing opposite 45 year old men, what is left? There is certainly not an abundance of middle-aged female-centered films for them to play in. I feel like there should be some kind of Bechdel-like test for this too; like if there is no plot point that calls for a drastic age difference between the two main characters, then it fails.

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