Ever since gender activism and Hollywood have coexisted, mammals have been asking who had the upper hand in the great Hollywood hills. It is time to put this question to rest.
Men, obviously, live the hard Hollywood life.
The facts are simple: Katheryn Bigelow is the only woman director to win an Academy Award for Best Director. Plus, she is one of only five to ever get nominated in the first place.
Meanwhile, a man has to struggle to stand out against a backdrop of literally every other person who has ever been nominated or who has won a Best Director award. How is any one man supposed to be noticed amongst such a staggering crowd?
It’s not only the overcrowding of men in Hollywood, making it difficult to stand out, but the toxic environment around men’s emotional health and the attacks against these precious creatures for it.
Mika Kunis went on record in 2018, speaking about her experience working with female directors. According to Variety’s reporting, she said, “There’s a noticeable difference. No one is yelling at each other. … Nobody got mad … no screaming matches. At 7 o’clock, bye, go home. I got to see my kids for dinner. It was lovely.”
So not only are men’s masculinity under assault in Hollywood, but so are their reputations: with the ongoing (though now quieter) #MeToo movement occurring, many men are concerned that actions they took in the past may now be considered abusive.
It is no longer safe to take a young actor into the back room and sit them on a couch to interview them behind locked doors anymore, it seems. Not even the great classics are safe anymore:
- Woody Allen’s showings of movies featuring himself lusting over younger actresses are now met with uneasy side-eyes
- Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango In Paris rape scene is now being reevaluated as perhaps being an intentional rape, filmed for show.
In 2019, even with record numbers of women in named roles in Hollywood, men comprised a majority of the roles.
That would mean that someone filmed a crime and labeled it art, to be watched and rewatched by strangers the world over: anonymous witnesses without even knowing it.
The sheer scrutiny of the actions of a man who simply wanted to get the most authentic performance out of his actress. To hold all men up to the same lens would be to imply that Kubrick and his systematic harassment of Shelly Duvall was abusive while filming The Shining, while he famously made sure Danny Lloyd (actor of Danny) didn’t even know he was supposed to be in a horror movie.
And indeed, while Jack Nicholson (Jack Torrence) managed to gain notability despite not being given the same unique motivation, how is a young child like Danny supposed to act well if he isn’t given the same advantages as an adult woman supposedly experiencing the same imaginary horrific circumstances?
When it comes to wages, men are so disadvantaged in Hollywood; they need much more pay even to make ends meet. For the appropriately titled All The Money in the World co-stars Mark Wahlberg, and Michelle Williams had their salaries compared. Wahlburg was paid $5,000,000 while Michelle Williams was paid $625,000.
Where is Williams living in Hollywood to make that affordable? Wherever it is, she should tell Wahlburg, so that he can move in, and not need such an outrageously different salary to make ends meet after a long day at work.
When you shift the dial to look at non-white men… well, the picture is about the same, with a couple key differences when it comes to men of color.
Hollywood isn’t an exceptionally safe place; it seems. Men are less likely to be believed about things like a sexual assault than women, which is impressive, considering the already low rate of women being believed about sexual assault.
In 2016, when Terry Crews was sexually assaulted in front of his wife, he was told to remain quiet and not raise a fuss to avoid losing any chance of success he had in Hollywood. Coming forward during the height of the 2018 #MeToo movement, Terry said, “I heard time and time again about the rights that my predator had, but I was never told about the rights I had as a survivor.”
While resources for women in dangerous situations are widespread, most men wind up faced with the issue of being believed in the first place, to the point where our statistics about men’s sexual assault could very well be wildly inaccurate–because of lack of belief during reporting, if they were ever reported at all.
Considering the ‘casting couch’ culture of Hollywood and the lack of protection many child stars endure, it’s not unlikely that men in Hollywood face much more sexual assault than has been reported.
Considering how often male sexual assault in Hollywood is more of a punchline than a plot point, Hollywood the institution itself is helping keep these cases of male sexual assault under wraps.
Latino men face the highest rate of sexual assault among black, Asian, or white men—who were least likely to be assaulted—and Latina sexual assault is well documented, with 1 in 7 reporting being raped in their lifetime.
For Latinx in the top 100 films between 2007-2018, only 3% on average had lead or co-lead Latinos. I will place a bet that most of them were love interests, yet those love interest roles don’t even guarantee Latinx jobs in the industry. Between 2007-2018 is about 1,200 films, so 3% with leading Latinx is about 36 films. So in this case, it may be an area where women are indeed getting hired more than men— but I haven’t counted the individual background under-five drug dealers in current movies, and so I may be off here.
A fourth of Latinx appearing in those 1200 films apparently portray criminals– and the more prominent a character in the film, the more likely they are to be isolated, poor, angry, religious, or immigrants, for a handful of vulnerable stereotypes.
Meanwhile, Constance Wu is leading a—revival or revolution?
It depends if it ever existed in the first place—for Asian actors, but at the moment only pale-skinned ones. Fresh Off The Boat, Crazy Rich Asians, and the recent Hustlers, not to mention The Promise, are all bringing Asian and Asian-American actors to the forefront; you will still be hard-pressed to find a southeast Asian in the spotlight, though.
It does appear as if women are spearheading the surge of Asian-led film; though you are more likely to know the women’s names, it does still look like there are a handful more male actors.
Asian is, of course, not technically the right word to use—but to divide them into groups of Japanese, Javanese, Korean, Chinese, Thai, Indonesian… it would make the numbers small enough we might not be able to see them at all, which is severe enough when many reports tend to use the term ‘minority’ and then not even subdivide groups from there for accurate numbers.
Films about indigenous people are doing the same thing, after all. While there are going to be exceptions like maybe-not-white-savior-story Wind River, though the only modern example I have off the top of my head is Chief (Eugene Brave Rock) from 2017’s Wonder Woman.
Otherwise, when you google indigenous film, the first suggestions go Last of the Mohicans (1992), Dances with Wolves (1990), Broken Arrow (1950), and… Reel Injun (2009), literally a documentary translating the commentary from the actual indigenous cast as extras in old Westerns, as no lines had ever really been written for them, they were just told to say something for the camera.
Lots of them said very insulting things it turns out. But if you massacre a bunch of people and then make films about how they probably deserved it, then maybe that’s something we kind of deserve.
All in all, between Lone Ranger (2013) and Ridiculous 6 (2015), I’m pretty sure that males will be seeing a steady increase in their role options in Hollywood in the upcoming future, and maybe that will also give these gental giants a chance to leave their distinctive mark on the movie-making world.