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Monthly Archives: December 2012

14% is Such a Sad Number


The list of movies eligible for an Academy Award came out this past week.  There are 282 eligible.  See the rules for more information on what makes a movie eligible.  Guess how many were directed by women?  Nope.  Lower.  Try again.
They are 39.
Of those 39, five are foreign films, two are animated and five are documentaries.   So, only 14% of the movies even eligible for a nomination are directed by women.

Let’s drill down a bit further to see who votes for these movies.  According to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences, “There are three ways to become a candidate for membership in the academy: land an Oscar nomination; apply and receive a recommendation from two members of a branch; or earn an endorsement from the branch’s membership committee or the academy staff.
The membership committees then vote on the candidates and those who get a majority are invited to join.”

A study released this past February, of the 5,100 members of the Academy who voted last year (representing 89% of the membership), 94% are white and 77% are male.  Only 2% are Black and less than 2% are Latino.  Do people tend to vote for things that resonate with them?  Of course.  At this rate, the number of women who break into the Academy and shift the movies that win Oscars will take a century.  Until there is a better representation of our society within the academy, white men will continue to do the voting and pick the movies that they like best.  If you are a woman or a person of color in the movie industry, you are doomed.  To see the lonely list of 39, check out one of my favorite new blogs Women and Hollywood by Melissa Silverstein.  
We have to start making a change.  I’ve included a list of movies, below, that are currently playing in theatres, that are directed by women. Go see at least one of them.  I have heard great things about Zero Dark Thirty and The Guilt Trip.  Although even Kathryn Bigelow, the ONLY woman to ever win a Best Director Oscar, is being accused of playing second fiddle to her partner, Mark Boal, the screenwriter.  She’s also been criticized for being, get this, TOO good looking.  I mean how could a smart woman also be attractive?  What is happening to our world when intelligent women can also be considered pretty?  Jeez!  Smart women must be ugly while the sexiest and prettiest among us must have rocks in our brains.  Women can’t get it right!  
Ava DuVernay, the writer and director of Middle of Nowhere was blatantly ignored at the NAACP Image Awards for her work as a writer and director.  Her film won for Best Director at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and numerous other film festival awards.  Check out the trailer here.  Shall we place bets whether the white male Academy recognizes her courageous movie in anyway? 
Zero Dark Thirty – Directed by Kathryn Bigelow
Middle of Nowhere – Directed and Written by Ava DuVernay
Diana Vreeland:  The Eye Has to Travel – Directed by Lisa Immordino 
Somewhere Between – Directed by Linda Goldstein Knowlton
The Guilt Trip – Directed by Anne Fletcher

Trashed – Directed by Candida Brady (documentary)

Talaash – Directed by Reema Kagti
The Central Park Five – Co-Directed by Sarah Burns (documentary)
Cloud Atlas – Co-Directed and Co-Written by Lana Wachowski
The Other Son – Directed and Co-Written by Lorraine Lévy
Brooklyn Castle – Directed by Katie Dellamaggiore (documentary)
So do me a favor.  Or do womankind a favor and go support women directors.  If we don’t do it, who will?  Certainly not the Academy! 

A Season of Light. A Season of Stress. Remix.

I wrote this in 2010.  But as I was bitching the other night, at my husband, of course, about how I had done all the figuring out of the presents, all the shopping and all the wrapping, while teaching a course, rehearsing for a play, preparing a huge talk and teaching yoga ON TOP OF MY DAY JOB, I thought it might be fun to revisit it.  And I’m just not ready to write about another school shooting where the majority of the dead are girls and women and the killer is a young white male.  (It will come, I promise). 

I watched a re-run of Family Guy last night. In this episode, Lois freaks out because she is exhausted from Christmas preparations. She sets fire to their tree and goes on a rampage through the town of Quahog. This episode really resonated with me, even though I don’t have children. I have done the majority of the shopping for the approximately 40 people on our list, many of whom are nieces and nephews on my husband’s side of the family. It’s now up to 50.  How the hell did that happen?   Last Saturday I spent hours wrapping all of those presents. And I’m still not done. I have to pick up something for my Dad, find the perfect book about trains for my Godson, get something for my neighbors who were overly generous last year, a gift certificate for my brother in law and his wife, go to Target and get dog toys for nine dogs, and maybe something else for my mother. I’m way ahead of the curve this year.  I did most of this last weekend as we are leaving today for New Hampshire to do my family’s Christmases so I had to be ready.  I did spend Saturday baking shortbread cookies and Sunday grading papers, making two lasagnes for a Christmas party, and wrapping most of the gifts.  And there are still three more things to buy, which coincidentally have been on my husband’s To Do list for a week–pick up two gift cards and a bottle of white wine.  Guess who will probably be doing that?

Then I have to buy the ingredients to make a Christmas Eve dessert, develop a shopping list for Christmas dinner, which will include making another dessert, and finish wrapping the gifts I haven’t finished wrapping, including some I need to wrap when my husband is elsewhere. This part is easier this year as we tried NOT to buy anything for each other so I just have a couple of things to throw in his stocking for Christmas morning. And I won’t wrap them.  I’ll make my pie tomorrow am when I am in New Hampshire and we’ll come up with something to bring to Christmas Eve that morning after we’re back. 

Christmas has become a race to exhaustion. And while I love to buy Christmas presents, I wonder if we have stepped too far afield of its meaning. While we hear all the time that we have to “get back to the real meaning of Christmas,” like a new group on Facebook called “Let’s keep the Christ in Christmas,” none of this addresses the pressure that, in most cases, women face during this time of year.

And why does the holiday pressure fall on women? I know I am the one who nagged my husband about decorating the house. This year our tree was up without lights for a WEEK.  And when he finally got motivated to put them on, while I was out at an event one night, he couldn’t find the lights.  he spent most of Saturday looking all over town for white lights and we ended up with colored ones.  There is one fake stupid looking wreath hanging on our garage.  Our house really looks blah. But I am really over it.  I was the one who wanted our house to look “pretty” in my neighborhood. I was the one who went to get a tree and then decorated the whole thing while he cooked dinner one night. I did manage to get him to come shopping with me for some of our nieces and nephews, but I couldn’t get him to move at the pace I needed. Am I the one who puts this pressure on me? Do women bring this on themselves? Or are men happy to let us take charge?

I often get a good cold this time of year. Women run themselves into exhaustion, staying up late wrapping presents or baking cookies or decorating. I wonder if next year, instead of getting back to the real meaning of Christmas, maybe we could begin to think of an equality of Christmas, where no one person in the home takes full responsibility for the increased chores that come with this beautiful season of lights.

So yes, I wrote that paragraph two years ago.  Did it happen?  Clearly not.  I think the best Christmas I had, so far, was the year we went away to New York to have Christmas with my birth family.  I think it was fun because I wasn’t worried about pleasing my family in anyway.  Maybe we need to start spending Christmas in the Caribbean.  Now there’s an idea.  Merry Christmas!

Is Representation a U.S. Problem?

Yesterday I did my first ever keynote presentation at The James J. Kaput Center for Research and Innovation in Mathematics Education.  I’m sure some of my readers are like “WTF?  Math Education?”  Dr. Parker knows NOTHING about that. 

My talk was titled “Choosing Science:  Succeeding without Visible Role Models” and I looked at the representation of women across the STEM fields and then examined the representation of fictional scientists in Hollywood and television.  The talk will be available in the next week or two as a download. (As an actor and director, I will watch it and critique everything I did wrong, to improve upon it for future use).

But what resonated with most, the day after, was a comment made by a Ph.D. student from Turkey, who stated that women’s representations as scientists in Turkey is more equal and she questioned whether these issues were western or U.S. based.  This comment gave me pause.  Of course I think media representation issues are based in the U.S., but I don’t think I have thought enough about this from a global perspective.  When I think of France, I picture a similar advertising to the US, but does that play out the same way in commercials? 

We do know that in politics, the U.S. lags behind many European countries in how women are represented.  England and Germany have had women as their leaders, for example.  But what kind of commercials are shown and who runs their media.  One comment from a colleague, from England, was that he felt as if the U.S. is spewing it’s crappy media across the pond towards Europe; that every time he goes home it feels more like the U.S.  I guess I need to ask some of my friends in Europe–I have two in England, one in France, and one in Switzerland what their experience is. 

If you have any ideas on this subject or suggestions, please send them my way.  This work I am engaged in, on representation seems to get more expansive the more time I spend on it. 

I think in my next blog I will do a mini study on representation of women and girls in Christmas movies.  Or will there be nothing to write about?

my feminist praxis

critical reflections on my feminist praxis: activism, motherhood, and life

The Feminist Critic

Providing weekly critiques of theatre, film, books, politics and pop culture from a feminist perspective.