Crack open the fizz and squeeze yourself into a t*t-crushing sample-size gown because Hollywood’s favourite night of earnest backslapping is here again! There’s a harsh irony in the fact that, since the Academy Awards’ inception in 1929, it’s leading ladies who have dominated the headlines in the days following the event – be they a weeping Gwyneth Paltrow, Björk wearing the lifeless corpse of a swan or Hattie McDaniel, the first African-American to win an award for her role in Gone With The Wind – and yet it’s women who remain grasping the s**tty end of the film industry stick. And don’t get us started on the fact that this is a pattern repeated across the globe in far less glamorous, less well-paid sectors without any tit-crushing frocks at all.
This year will doubtless be no different. The Time’s Up campaign might be readying its biggest moment in the global spotlight so far but women are still vastly, ludicrously underrepresented in film. “But what about the glorious likes of Wonder Woman, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Greta Gerwig’s low-key masterpiece, Lady Bird?”, I hear you cry. “What about Emma Watson’s box office-smashing Beauty And The Beast?” “What about the film where Paddington’s mum shags a fish?” The Oscars will be definitely be dishing out prizes to a number of these female-focused movies, but according to a new report from the Centre for the Study of Women in Television and Film, the number of women in leading roles in mainstream movies in 2017 was a paltry 24 per cent – five per cent lower than in the previous year.
If that weren’t enough, their research also found that last year only 32 per cent of films had 10 or more female characters with speaking roles (compared to 79 per cent boasting 10 or more men who were graciously allowed to talk). And while the number of black female characters increased by two per cent, it was still only at 16 per cent, with Asian and Latina female characters at seven per cent.
These figures make for grim reading, especially when so much has been made of late about it finally being women’s time to shine both behind and in front of the camera. As always, it seems like the best way to distract people from a problem is to make a huge song and dance about the exceptions that prove the rule. Well, guess what: we’ve seen through it and we’re far from happy about it. Your move, Hollywood.