Recently, I’ve had a couple of people ask “as a feminist, what are your thoughts on the Wonder Woman casting choice?”
This question has only been asked in relation to whether I think Gal Gadot is too thin to play Wonder Woman, and to that I say ‘Yes. That’s the problem’.
Yes the problem is definitely this one, individual case of whether or not a woman is too thin for a role. A role based on a comic book character who has measurements comparable to Barbie. Sorry, are you asking me if I think Gal Gadot isn’t “real woman” enough to play a comic book character?
It wasn’t that long ago that the internet was yelping about how Jennifer Lawrence was ‘too fat’ to play Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games.
So is deconstructing individual casting choices really changing anything? Is it changing the representation of women in media? Is it changing the body image that this industry projects on to women of all ages. Is it really making a dent in the horribly biased gender politics that rule film and TV?
No. Of course it isn’t. But it is a neat distraction from the real issues within the film and television industry.
Instead of criticising the casting of Wonder Woman, how about we talk about producing, direction and writing where only 1 of 11 people currently attached to that project are women.
Or we could talk about the fact that as of last year, women comprised 18% of all directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors working on the top 250 (US) domestic grossing films.
Or we could talk about the lack of female protagonists in film. That’s 16%. Well, it was in 2002. By 2012 that had dropped to 11%.
How about TV? In 2012/13, women accounted for 28% of creators, executive producers, producers, directors, writers, editors, and directors of photography working on prime-time programs airing on the broadcast networks.
Or we could talk about how OVER SEVENTY PERCENT of women represented on TV are between the ages of 20 and 30.
And how many women are represented in TV? As of 2011, women comprised 43% of all speaking characters. ‘Speaking characters’ is a pretty broad category.
So what types of shows are women best represented in? You guessed it. Reality TV. 44% of reality TV ‘characters’ in 2012/13 were women. Compare this to 42% in sitcoms and 40% in drama programs.
In 2011, women accounted for a pathetic 5% of directors. This is half what it was in 1998. It’s jumped to 9% in 2012.
And are you a lady cinematographer? You’d be one of the 2% of women to have that role.
On posting a few of these examples, I received a few comments that basically boiled down to one central point. If women want these jobs, they have to go get them. If they don’t, that’s down to them.
These comments made me wonder whether any of these people had ever applied for a job before. Jobs aren’t just there for the taking, you have to be offered them by someone. Sure, you get qualified and apply, but the decision isn’t left up to you. If it was, we’d all be working amazing, highly paid jobs.
“But surely it’s up to the individual to make sure they are qualified for a position. Giving a woman a job because she’s a woman is tokenism.”
Well yes, that would be tokenism and that’s not what this is about. This is about women being excluded because they are women.
In the documentary Miss Representation, director Catherine Hardwicke discusses being passed over for projects after being told they weren’t ‘suited’ to being directed by a woman.
She comments that Sex in the City, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and the Lizzy McGuire movie were all directed by men.
Shall we just let that sink in for a moment?
There are films out there that are too manly for a women to direct, but a man directing Sex and the City makes perfect sense? Maybe that explains Samantha’s apparent ability to have 89 orgasms in a row without messing up her mascara.
So what do I think of Gal Gadot’s thighs? In an industry that has systematically excluded women since it’s inception, I think its a miracle she got a job.