To this day, the battle over gender equality continues to struggle on, even though women have come quite a long way. The workplace continues to be a place of inequality, whether intentional or unpremeditated.
Hollywood is no exception, as women are still paid far less, on average, than men. In addition, fewer female leading roles — and female roles, in general– are available at any given time. Truly, men still rule the town, the industry, and the end product, even if women are slowly creeping up into equal positions and pay.
Meryl Streep seems to have a strong opinion on the matter. At the annual Women In Film Crystal + Lucy Awards, Streep was highlighted as a speaker. Reuters reported on Streep’s presence at the prestigious event.
Streep explained that relatively lower budget films made with women in mind have brought in quite a bit of money. “In the last five years, five little movies aimed at women have brought in over 1.6 billion dollars at worldwide box office … five little movies – ‘The Help,’ ‘The Iron Lady,’ believe it or not, ‘Bridesmaids,’ ‘Mamma Mia,’ and ‘The Devil Wears Prada.’” Streep went on to explain that these projects were box office winners, because of the low cost to make the films. “I will bet you that their profits were significant because they cost a fraction of what the big tentpole failures cost.”
All five films Streep mentioned featured one to several female lead or lead supporting characters, which can be unusual to find in a larger studio film.
Streep highlighted an issue that still permeates Hollywood. Why not make films geared for a female demographic that feature strong female protagonists? The proof is in the money.
Streep, herself, seemed quite baffled at the problem. “So why why why [don’t studios make these] … don’t they want the money? Why is it so hard to get these movies made?” Streep raised a point. Even the film industry, usually noted to embrace “progressive” thinking, still has a few hang-ups. Yes, women – and women in film — have come quite a long way. Unfortunately, there is still a long way to go.
You can only make so many films about (a) pregnancy (b) dying of cancer and (c) weddings. Based on what I’ve seen coming out of Hollywood in the last couple of decades, these are the only stories about women they can come up with — or, at least, the only ones that get green-lighted. It is pathetic, maddening and sad that, by and large, roles for women suck worse now than they did in the 40s and 50s.