Lexi Alexander is a filmmaker, a world champion fighter, and a former stuntwoman who is most likely best known and loved by our readership for directing 2008’s PUNISHER: WAR ZONE, the craziest Marvel movie to date. On her blog this week she posted a direct challenge to Hollywood and to all of us, really, to address the severe gender inequities in the film industry.
Please read that here.
Her point is that despite the recent and deserved attention to the issue of how few female film directors are currently making movies, there are already plenty of highly capable female directors. There are not plenty of opportunities made available for those highly capable female directors to make movies. Her other point is that if all the people who claim to support gender equality were to follow through on their theoretical stance, the established order would change. Not that my opinion matters, but I very strongly agree with her.
It’s all well and good to post a strongly-worded editorial on your left-leaning website and to obtain a chorus of approving mouse-clicks, but are you willing to go to the theater and pay good money to support a film from a female director, to send a monetary message to match your politics? This goes double for all the so-called good guys who are in hiring positions. If you really mean it, put your ass on the line.
Lexi Alexander says it better than I do. Again, that link.
Back in 2008, it should be said, I didn’t pay to see PUNISHER: WAR ZONE because a woman directed it. It was a movie I wanted to see anyway, and quite frankly I wouldn’t argue that its director’s gender is immediately apparent from the content of the film. It’s a wickedly funny, crunchingly brutal shitkicker of a cult item which is a hell of a lot of fun to watch with a crowd. All that matters in that case is that Lexi Alexander directed that movie as well as most male action directors out there. So one reason more women should be hired to direct films is because it’s a demonstrable fact that women can take on a typically male-dominated genre and do just as good a job, if not better, than plenty of male directors can. I won’t name names, but there are plenty of male action directors who can’t actually shoot action and probably don’t deserve a second or third shot but continue to fail upwards all the same. Maybe that guy loses his spot in line so a lady can take a shot. That’s only fair. We’ve got decades of catching up to do.
But another reason to encourage female directors is because they sometimes can and do tell different stories than men do. Speaking personally from the perspective of a straight male, I am interested in women. I like women. I am interested in perspectives different than my own. I don’t want to see the same story over and over, regardless of the gender issue — I pursue originality in movies. When I sit down in a theater, I want to see something different than what I saw last. But the gender issue does matter. We get plenty of stories from the male perspective already. Let’s even it up.
One of the best movies I saw in 2013 was ENOUGH SAID, written and directed by Nicole Holofcener. That movie probably couldn’t have been made by a man, or by a very young person or a very old person, for that matter, and it probably benefited from the difference. And hey, something I noticed as a man who likes knowing women: They’re not all the same! A different female filmmaker would have told the same story told in ENOUGH SAID, to use an example at hand, completely differently. (Now I’m picturing Lexi Alexander’s version. Less talking, probably.) The more women who make movies, the more varied the story selection — just as Michael Mann makes different movies from Paul Thomas Anderson who makes different movies than Spike Lee who makes different movies than Clint Eastwood. Fancy that.
What can I do, personally? Well, as long as I have a public platform like this site, I can link to Lexi Alexander’s excellent piece and promote it as best I can. I can pay to see her next movie (which I was planning to do anyway). And I can encourage all of you who were good enough to read this article to take a moment to consider what you yourself can do. If you’re a regular moviegoer, vote with your wallet. If you’re a filmmaker or a producer or an executive or anyone with hiring power, hire in equal measures. Think of what you can do to address the things that need to be addressed.
And then do it.
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