If you were writing a script for a film, how would you describe your lead protagonist? Quiet, good-hearted and pensive? Or would they be “blonde, fit and smokin’ hot”? If your lead character isn’t a man, the latter is how Hollywood would want you to describe them, according to a new Twitter account run by Ross Putman called “femscriptintros”.
Putman, who estimates he’s read between 4,000 and 5,000 scripts over the course of his career, is a producer who yesterday (February 10) started tweeting actual intros for actual female leads in actual scripts he gets sent. In every tweet he’s changed the character’s name to JANE, to provide a small dose of anonymity to the sexist scriptwriters he’s holding up for public mockery, but otherwise these character introductions are taken verbatim from scripts. “Apologies if I quote your work”, reads his caustic bio.
If you were already unsure about whether the film industry needs the Bechdel Test – which requires any given film to feature 1. At least two women 2. Who talk to each other 3. About something other than a man – then this exercise should pluck you out of your denial. Take a look below to see some examples of award-winning sexism in the film industry – and if you’re still not seeing it, try getting a sense of what Jane is actually like as a person. That’s not easy, because everything about these characters’ personalities appears to hinge on what they look like…
Mashable reached out to Putnam for comment, and he explained his decision to start the Twitter account, writing, “Women are first and foremost described as ‘beautiful’, ‘attractive’, or — my personal blow-my-brains-out-favorite, ‘stunning’. They’re always ‘stunning’ in a certain dress or ‘stunning’ despite being covered in dirt because they’re a paleontologist—or whatever. I plan on posting every one that I read, and there are plenty that aren’t offensive, but honestly, most of them have some element—subtle or overt—that plays into latent objectification.”
He also added, “Changing the names to JANE for me…demonstrates how female characters are often thought about in the same, simplistic and often degrading way. Giving them all the same name, I hope, emphasizes that.”