Where are the Women Part II: Beyond the Screen

Why our view of the medium still doesn't tell us the whole story.

Earlier this summer, I wrote an editorial on the subject of women in film€”or rather the glaring lack thereof, both in front of and behind the camera. Primarily, the main points I drew attention to were the shortage of leading female characters, let alone well-written ones, and the stunning domination of male storytellers, who account for some 96% of directors in Hollywood films according to recent DGA stats. That article examined the content of films and the people making them, but here I want to look at the complimentary angle: the people receiving them and quantifying them. Okay, first up, let me just get a few things out of the way. You, the person reading this, are most likely a guy, like me. Most likely, you would rather be reading about what€™s happening with a potential Batman 3 than some pseudo-feministic rant on the internet. But I think you ought to consider reading the rest of this article instead, and not just because most of the rumors about Batman 3 are bunk right now. This is an article that may very well make you re-evaluate your outlook on the profession of film criticism. Let me tell you what this article is not going to be about. Its not going to be about how chauvinistic men keep women in their place; its not going to be about how you, as a guy, should feel guilty about supporting a €œmale dominated€ industry; and its not going to be about how the world would be so much better if women were in charge. Just to re-assure those who already are getting the itch to hit that €œback€ button. What it will be doing, however, is shedding light on a subject that, for some very strange reason, seems to have never really been acknowledged and properly studied before in the mainstream press. What it will be doing is examining how the media, the critics and the scholars who tell us the perceived value of a film in artistic, historical, cultural and personal terms, have pressed upon the world a deceivingly skewered perspective that does not properly account for women, not because the aforementioned groups are a bunch of stuffy old chauvinists but simply because, for reasons that are beyond my understanding and the scope of this article, women as an audience group are not really represented by those making the quantifications in the first place; they do not account for a significant margin of critics, scholars and filmmakers. This means that our entire history of film criticism has a very large piece of its mosaic missing. I present this argument not in the attempt to invalidate the cultural value of our film history but simply because I find it a fascinating angle to consider, and one that will give us a better overall understanding of this magical medium we all love and our world€™s relation to it. My inspiration for considering this re-evaluation of history was brought to the fore by a study that was conducted recently by the Center for the Study of Women in Film and Television at the San Diego State University. (See: Link) The study found that:

1) Men write 70 percent of film reviews, and 2) Among newspapers that publish movie reviews, 47 percent had no reviews written by female critics, writers or freelancers. Alliance of Women Film Journalists president Jennifer Merin stated,
€œThis important study shows in concrete and shocking terms that women€” more than 50 percent of the population€” are still being left out of a national discussion of sweeping cultural and financial significance".
This, I realized, was absolutely true, but it only seems so obvious in retrospect. Women simply don€™t write and comment on film that much. Open a newspaper and go to the film reviews€”how many women do you see writing? Maybe one or two; like the token minority, you will often find a token female writer in the mix. But, by and large, almost all of them are men. Can you name me one well-known film commentator that€™s not a man and doesn€™t have the name Pauline Kael?


To be sure, they are out there, but that€™s obviously not the point I am making. Taking this further, when you think of all the books on film that you€™ve read€”scholastic dissections, histories, interviews, textbooks, what have you€”how many of those are authored by women? Not more than 30 percent I am guessing, based upon my own experience. Looking at Amazon.com€™s top 50 best-sellers in its €œMovie History and Criticism€ section, there are 7 women authors (accounting for 14%). Expanding to its top 100 books, there are still only 17. To take a more personal view of things, take a look at this website: there€™s one woman on a roster of close to a dozen writers (actually, it seems Kate is now inactive). When you look elsewhere you find things equally slanted; on most film comment sites where there€™s only four or five people doing the writing, there aren€™t any women at all, let alone one. This is key to understanding the main issues I will be distinguishing here. We further quantify our films not just by those writing about them, but by those within the industry who advocate their merits. Filmmakers like Peter Bogdonavich and George Lucas helped make John Ford€™s 1956 film The Searchers into a classic because they would rave about how much of a masterpiece it was; outside of this circle of influence, the film was not perceived or remembered quite as fondly€”it didn€™t win any Academy Awards and many people, even today, don€™t see what the big deal is. Certainly though, it is a well-made film, and because of the reputation that spiked up in the 1970€™s, it is nonetheless treated with respect by students of cinema, even if they don€™t really like it in personal terms. So here we see how certain key individuals can be of such influence in pushing a film that the weight of their personal appraisal continues on long afterwards, because now it is written in books and considered part of the cinematic tradition. Another crucial element to consider, related to the previous one, is not only those within the industry publicly preaching about certain films, but those giving awards. There are many awards committees but for expediency€™s sake I am going to be focusing on the largest and most influential one: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Academy Awards guys. This is a body of over 6,000 professionals and scholars, ranging from executives and producers to actors and directors to film scholars and popular artists in other fields. The Academy does not release information on who is voting or who is actually a member. However, every year they send out just over 100 invitations for new members, which have been publicly released since 2004. I decided to examine them myself, and I found they show a very telling trend. In 2004, only 34 of the 127 newly invited members were women€”accounting for 27% of the new inductees. In 2005, 38 out of the 112 invitees were women€”34%, the highest percentage on record. In 2006, there were only 27 women out of 120 invitees, accounting for only 23%. In 2007 it was even worse, with 24 women out of 114 invitees€”a paltry 21%. This year has recovered a bit, at 31%. The 2004-2008 five-year average is 27%€”even worse than women€™s representation in the media. What is even more alarming is that this is seen as a €œprogressive€ trend compared to eras prior, when women accounted for an even less proportion of the Academy. Thus, if the current enrollment stream of women in the Academy is less than 30%, it is very likely that the total female representation in the Academy is somewhere around 15-20%. In its earliest times in 1927, there were only two women among its 36 founders, accounting for just 5%. Since 1927, only one of the 29 Academy presidents has been a woman (Fay Kanin from 1979-1983)€”Bette Davis controversially became president in 1941, but the rest of the committee members did not want her on board, viewing her as a radical, and they forced her to resign after only two months. What I€™ve been trying to highlight here is how our perception of the medium, and our history, scholarship and criticism of it, is shaped by the people actually writing it; they reflect the tastes, beliefs, and perspectives of the people who are in view of the public and actively shaping our culture. Let me start by example to better illustrate this process. What is the greatest film of all time? Maybe€Citizen Kane? Star Wars? Godfather? Taxi Driver? Seven Samurai? These seem likely candidates. But why are these considered the €œgreatest€ films? I€™m not trying to get into the philosophical argument of illustrating that all opinion is subjective and thus nothing is true. What I€™m trying to draw attention to here is: why do we usually leap to the same short list of films when asked about €œgreat films€? Personal preference, of course. But also€”because these are what scholars and critics have taught us are €œthe best.€ Film scholarship functions on its own legacy in a lot of ways€”scholarship becomes tradition and tradition becomes part of culture. Which is why many people who wish to be taken seriously in film buff circles are afraid to admit they think 2001 is boring, or that Star Wars doesn€™t interest them, or that they don€™t find Seven Samurai all that exciting. €œWhat?€ you often hear cineastes exclaim. €œ2001boring??€ Well, that person often thinks, this guy obviously has no taste; maybe they€™d prefer a Michael Bay film. No, it€™s not that we are all robots and simply repeat what our teachers tell us, and it€™s easy to fall into this fallacy. But certainly a film€™s reputation is directly related to those quantifying it€”certain films are studied more than others, certain films are deemed €œbetter€ than others; that the characters are €œinteresting,€ the plot €œcompelling,€ the themes €œfascinating,€ that the film is €œsignificant€ in some way. Our cultural perception of a film€™s worth in many ways is colored by how the intelligentsia views it and what they have to say about it, and whether they say anything about it in the first place. A way to illustrate this in easier to understand terms is the case of Wizard of Oz. Why did Wizard of Oz become considered a classic? The root cause is because it was shown on TV. When it came out in 1939 it fizzled. It was not a huge success, and certainly not considered a classic€”in fact, it just barely made back its budget. Then, in the 1950€™s, it began airing on TV every Christmas; families watched it together and grew to love it, year after year. Those fathers began writing about what a great family film it was; then, in the 1970€™s, those children became adults and started writing about what a masterpiece it was, what a classic it was. The results of these now-grown-up 1950€™s viewers were the 1975 Broadway production The Whiz, the 1978 motion picture adaptation of The Whiz with Michael Jackson, and the 1985 movie sequel to the original film, Return to Oz. In 1977, influential film journalist Aljean Harmetz wrote The Making of Wizard of Oz. By the time of that book, those now-grown-up kids were firmly in control of the media and cemented its status as a new classic of cinema. Today, it is in the top 10 of AFI€™s Top 100 American films of all time. So, you see, the cultural and historical value we attach to films is entirely dependent on the people quantifying them as such. In short, certain films are considered great because certain people say they are. This is a simplistic way of putting it, of course, but this is largely the relationship between a film€™s status and the media. To give another example, why is Akira Kurosawa considered one of the great filmmakers of all time? Well, he would be appreciated in any context by anyone with a firm grasp of filmmaking mechanics because he did things on a technical level that no one ever had before. But films aren€™t appreciated for sterile technicality, otherwise we would all be worshipping music videos. We praise and honor films mainly because they speak to us, because they thrill us, excite us, move us, have characters we identify with, present ideas that provoke us; I consider Kurosawa great, not because I respect his films in historical context, but because I love them as films.


In a parallel function at the time Kurosawa lived: he was the first Japanese filmmaker honored with the Gold Lion award at the Venice Film Festival in 1950. Then the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the USA nominated his work for best foreign language film a half dozen times. Then in 1965, scholar Donald Richie published a monumental and incredibly insightful book called The Films of Akira Kurosawa. And then in film schools, which had just been invented in the States, he was studied. Those students then became professionals like George Lucas and Francis Coppola, who co-financed Kurosawa€™s 1980 film Kagemusha because his films were so influential on them. A couple years later, people at Criterion started releasing his films on Laserdisc (some of which contained interviews with Lucas speaking about the influence of Kurosawa). So, you see, certain key individuals helped shape his reputation. Certain people gave him awards, wrote books about him, presented him for study in school, and even made films themselves that took inspiration from his work. Without those voters at Venice and the Academy, without Donald Richie, without certain film school instructors, and without children of these people like George Lucas, Kurosawa might be as popular as his then-contemporary, Kenji Mizoguchi€”Mizoguchi, for the many who have no idea who he is, was a Japanese filmmaker in the 1950€™s like Kurosawa, one whose cinema was no less inventive and emotionally moving, but whom didn€™t become well known because he didn€™t have certain American individuals to push his reputation as a €œmaster€ of the craft. There are many other reasons for why certain films and filmmakers cultivate reputations, as the situation is not as black and white as I paint it, but certainly this element is a valid and potent one, probably moreso than most people realize. History is written by€well, the people writing it. This is central to understanding not only the medium of film itself, but understanding our own understanding of the medium; how we analyze, value, criticize, attach worth to and write history about films. And, I€™m sure you have by now predicted I would point out, it is one with a very narrow range of people doing these things€”specifically, when it comes to gender. Most people, I think, are vaguely aware that it is mostly men in the profession of film commentary but few ponder the effects and repercussion of it. To re-iterate, you have roughly 70 percent of everything written about film in the media being done by men. You have over 90 percent of Hollywood films being directed by men. And in the most influential awards committee in the world, the male vote accounts for over 70 percent€” and since 73% of all new members are men, it is reasonable to estimate that men account for at least 80% of the total committee in lieu of proper data to give us a specific figure. Our cinema history, then, is one that is written by men. But it is not just history, because that is (supposed to be) irrespective of gender and personal preference€”but artistic quantification is not; unfortunately, in art history, the latter is tied to the former. And it is, when you average those above approximations, about 80 percent men who are the ones doing that quantification, telling the world which films are great and which films are not. Many will argue that good films are irrespective of gender, and while this may be true, we inevitably elevate certain ones above others, spend more energy concentrating on certain films and filmmakers, and our personal preference thus comes into clear focus€”and, just as they are age-specific, they are gender specific as well. While sixty-year-olds and thirty-year-olds will find films in common that they like, they will also find many differences. And while men and women will find films in common that they like, they will also find many differences. People respond differently according to which groups they belong to; this is the basic science of demography. Our view of cinema, therefore, is one that has not taken into consideration the majority human perspective: the demographic that makes up 52% of the population and a corresponding amount of the viewing audience€”women. Our scholastic matrix for cinema is shockingly incomplete. Our textbooks, our reviews, our awards, our films themselves, reflect almost exclusively the tastes, opinions and preferences of men. Is Howard Hawkes€™ Rio Bravo a great film? We can€™t really say €œyes, film scholars seem to think so€€”all we can say is €œpossibly, men seem to think so.€ Ad nauseum for any other example. This may sound like an exaggerated or radical way of thinking about the cinema but it really isn€™t, and it€™s fundamental to understanding our understanding of the cinema and its relationship to us and our culture. Few people seem to ever consider this: most seem to think that the €œgeneral consensus€ is actually a general consensus€”it€™s not. It€™s a male consensus, with a few female opinions feebly mixed in. I point this out not as someone with a political agenda or even as a woman, but simply as a guy looking at the situation for what it actually is. A question might then be asked€”would the female viewpoint even differ in the first place? The answer is: of course! It is like asking would the sixty-year-old viewpoint differ from the thirty-year-old viewpoint. Lots of common ground will be found, but lots of disagreement will be afoot as well. It€™s not necessarily that certain films will be deemed unworthy€”I doubt many serious female scholars consider Casablanca an unworthy chapter in cinema tradition. But it goes back to what I spoke of before€”we elevate certain films above others, we focus our efforts in certain areas and not in other areas, and that is dictated by taste and preference. If film journalism reflected female equality, I don€™t doubt Casablanca would still be considered a great film, but other films would be considered great as well, or more great than they now are; different films would be seen as €œimportant.€ Things would balance out better. To illustrate this and give some understanding of how different our point of view of cinema would be under a scenario that€™s not dominated by the male perspective, I turn to IMDB. A lot of you probably just snickered when you read that. Understandable. But hear me out first. It€™s often been said that that IMDB is the furthest from an accurate population cross-section as you can find, that it often represents only the opinions of white, male film nerds, like anything movie-related on the net. This is true. It€™s also why it€™s perfectly suited for our comparison. Or did you think that film scholars and journalists weren€™t white, male film nerds? Sarcasm aside, if you actually examine a lot of the IMDB viewer ratings, many of them eventually come close to approximating the €œgeneral consensus€ among the rest of the professional film community. Yeah, comic books and fantasy films have more representation than you find in the professional community€”but, for our purposes, this is not inapt because it€™s equally true for the female side as well (I discovered that the Lord of the Rings trilogy has the highest number of votes for any three movies in the female IMDB community). When you look at the Top 250 list, as voted by IMDB viewers, a lot of it comes close to the critical consensus, if not in ranked order than at least in terms of general recognition. Godfather and Star Wars are near the top; Seven Samurai, Casablanca, Pulp Fiction and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly follow. North by Northwest, Lawrence of Arabia, M and Treasure of the Sierra Madre are in the middle section. And just making it onto the list is stuff like Manhattan, Planet of the Apes, Young Frankenstein and Casino Basically, this is a rough approximation of the critical consensus, with some variation and some exceptions. It is not a €œgreatest films of all time€ list, merely a €œgreat movies€ list, so there are quite a lot contemporary films as well, and they are not necessarily ranked according to historic value. But if you go through it, there€™s not as many wild cards as IMDB€™s reputation suggests. And when attempting a study of viewing habits, it€™s the best resource available€”a collection of votes from millions of individuals. No other internet collection is so vast, and neither is any professional study. And, since it is mainly film nerds that vote in these things and not just your typical viewer, it crudely approximates film scholarship€”as if your average Joe has seen Seven Samurai and 12 Angry Men, two of the top 15 films listed that have a combined 150,000 individual votes. It€™s a list that comes close to the specialized tastes of film scholars. IMDB also has a very useful statistic for our purposes: voters must release their gender information, and their Top 250 list can be broken down into male and female preferences for the Top 50 films. You can see the women€™s list here, and the men€™s list here, and the final total here. When we do this, we see what should, by this point, be obvious: the male demographic is more in line with the common critical consensus, while the female demographic has much bigger deviation but hardly any influence in the total consensus. This is due to the fact that female IMDB voters make up only 14 percent of the total IMDB vote, not all dissimilar from real life. Female voters felt that Amelie was such a good film that it ranked at number 11 on their list of Top 50 films; but because the female vote was so small, Amelie plummeted all the way down to number 48 when combined with the male vote.


Using the Male/Female voting split, I crunched some numbers. Of the Top 50 films voted for by females there was a total of 933, 561 votes. Of the Top 50 films voted for by males, there was€”get ready for this€” 5, 622, 129 votes. No wonder Amelie plummeted from 11 to 48 when combined with the male vote; women only made up a fraction of the voting population. And this is close to the ratio among filmmakers, Academy voters, film critics and scholars in the real world! The implications are astounding. I looked closer at the Top 50 films by each gender and compared it to the Top 50 films by total vote. It€™s not all chick flicks and romantic comedies on the female side as cynical males might suspect€”the rankings often reflect a scholastic film history education, as with men. In fact, I was surprised to find that women really liked Fight Club, Psycho and Rear Window, films often thought of as €œguy films,€ and that their rankings of these films are close to the male ranking. Surprisingly, women also voted for Monty Python and the Holy Grail, whereas men did not. Women also liked the Lord of the Rings trilogy way more than guys, and The Dark Knight currently ranks higher among females than males. On the other hand, Godfather, ranked number 2 on the total list, only ranks at 7 with women€”impressive, but not quite the be-all-end-all that a lot of scholars think it is and tell us it is; Godfather II ranked number 4 with men, but a scant 34 with women. Star Wars drops as well, from number 10 with men to number 17 with women; not huge, but enough of a difference to call for a re-evaluation of its place among viewers. Pulp Fiction and Good, the Bad and the Ugly rank a highly prestigious number 5 and 6 on the total list€”but women didn€™t vote for them at all! Not even 48 and 49. And yet they ended up in the top ten. Here we see a more accurate perspective of total critical demographics among the cross section of IMDB. These are the mutual agreements between men and women on films in the Top 50, the films that both genders voted for somewhere in the list. MUTUAL AGREEMENT: Film Rank with WOMEN Rank with MEN Fellowship of the Ring (2001) 6 23 Shawshank Redemption (1994) 1 2 Return of the King (2003) 4 17 Two Towers (2002) 13 35 Fight Club (1999) 30 20 American Beauty (1999) 50 34 The Dark Knight (2008) 2 3 Forrest Gump (1994) 31 42 The Godfather (1972) 7 1 Schindler's List (1993) 3 9 Star Wars (1977) 18 10 Silence of Lambs (1991) 14 25 Departed (2006) 36 47 Usual Suspects (1995) 12 21 Raiders Lost Ark (1981) 21 15 Empire Strikes Back (1980) 20 7 American History X (1998) 10 40 Casablanca (1942) 9 14 One Flew Cuckoo€™s Nest (1975) 8 8 Godfather II (1974) 34 4 Psycho (1960) 24 22 Léon (1994) 41 37 It's A Wonderful Life (1946) 43 38 Rear Window (1954) 5 19 Vertigo (1958) 47 41 12 Angry Men (1957) 28 12 North by Northwest (1959) 32 31

And here are the exclusives€”the films that only appear in each gender. The films couldn€™t be more different; like sixty-year-olds and thirty-year-olds, despite common agreements, there are remarkable differences of opinion. And, unsurprisingly, the male exclusives are films that we very frequently hear discussed as €œmasterpieces€ in the scholastic tradition.


WOMEN (rank in bold) MEN (rank in bold) Pirates of Caribbean (2003) 25 Pulp Fiction (1994) 6 Eternal Sunshine (2004) 27 Matrix (1999) 26 Amélie (2001) 11 Saving Private Ryan (1998) 46 The Notebook (2004) 29 Memento (2000) 28 Little Miss Sunshine (2006) 44 Se7en (1995) 29 Princess Bride (1987) 35 Goodfellas (1990) 13 Finding Nemo (2003) 22 Terminator 2 (1991) 49 The Prestige (2006) 45 Clockwork Orange (1971) 43 Lion King (1994) 39 Apocalypse Now (1979) 32 Pan€™s Labyrinth (2006) 19 Alien (1979) 44 Gone with Wind (1939) 15 Shining (1980) 48 Wizard of Oz (1939) 46 City of God (2002) 16 Monty Pyth Holy Grail (1975) 33 Dr. Strangelove (1964) 24 Pianist (2002) 23 Good Bad Ugly (1966) 5 Beauty and Beast (1991) 38 Taxi Driver (1976) 33 Life is Beautiful (1997) 16 Citizen Kane (1941) 30 To Kill A Mockingbird (1962) 17 Seven samurai (1954) 11 Stand by Me (1986) 42 WALL·E (2008) 27 Sound of Music (1965) 49 Lawrence Arabia (1962) 39 Some Like It Hot (1959) 40 Chinatown (1974) 50 Singin' in the Rain (1952) 26 Once Upn Tm Wst (1968) 18 All About Eve (1950) 48 Sunset Blvd. (1950) 36 Rebecca (1940) 37 Paths of Glory (1957) 45

Here is also where we see the representational differences. Every single movie that men and only men voted for made the total list€”always in ranking very near to how the men ranked them. In contrast, the movies that women and only women voted for hardly made any show of representation at all€”only two of them made the total list, Amelie and To Kill a Mockingbird, and they are in the last ten total rankings at 42 and 46 respectively. In other words, only the two top exclusively female-voted films showed up in the final list, and they were at the very end, while every single exclusively male-voted film showed up in the total list, pretty much exactly how the males ranked them. Since the male:female ratio here is close to the professional world, it really sheds light on how skewered our scholastic tradition actually is.

Here is the top fifty list. Normal text are films that both genders voted on, though the ranking itself reflects mainly the male perspective. Bolded titles reflect male exclusives€”movies that men and only men voted for. Italicized titles represent female exclusives€”movies that women and only women voted for.

Rank rating Movie (rank with women at right) # Total votes # Female votes 1. 9.1 The Shawshank Redemption (1994) 1 358,321 37, 140 2. 9.1 The Godfather (1972) 7 307,318 26, 652 3. 9.1 The Dark Knight (2008) 2 222, 220 29, 394 4. 9.0 The Godfather: Part II (1974) 34 174,440 13, 847 5. 8.9 Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966) - 102,174 - 6. 8.9 Pulp Fiction (1994) - 303,251 - 7. 8.8 Schindler's List (1993) 3 201,192 24, 264 8. 8.8 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) 8 152,611 16, 293 9. 8.8 Empire Strikes Back (1980) 20 212,242 18, 490 10. 8.8 Casablanca (1942) 9 129,420 17, 208 11. 8.8 12 Angry Men (1957) 28 73,658 7, 685 12. 8.8 Seven Samurai (1954) - 73,076 - 13. 8.8 Star Wars (1977) 18 252,778 23, 153 14. 8.8 The Return of the King (2003) 4 269,708 35, 368 15. 8.7 Goodfellas (1990) - 165,579 16. 8.7 Rear Window (1954) 5 86,956 10, 923 17. 8.7 Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) 21 190,059 18, 804 18. 8.7 City of God (2002) - 108,094 - 19. 8.7 Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) - 49,966 - 20. 8.7 Fellowship of the Ring (2001) 6 299,969 39, 950 21. 8.7 The Usual Suspects (1995) 12 204,151 19, 414 22. 8.7 Psycho (1960) 24 106,375 13, 838 23. 8.6 Fight Club (1999) 30 270,973 32, 356 24. 8.6 Dr. Strangelove (1964) - 121,974 - 25. 8.6 Silence of the Lambs (1991) 14 181,929 22, 343 26. 8.6 WALL·E (2008) - 56,764 - 27. 8.6 North by Northwest (1959) 32 70,005 7, 471 28. 8.6 Citizen Kane (1941) - 109,913 - 29. 8.6 Memento (2000) - 196,916 - 30. 8.6 Sunset Blvd. (1950) - 37,826 - 31. 8.6 The Two Towers (2002) 13 248,734 35, 117 32. 8.6 The Matrix (1999) - 285,349 - 33. 8.6 It's a Wonderful Life (1946) 43 77,507 12, 383 34. 8.6 Se7en (1995) - 199,169 - 35. 8.5 Lawrence of Arabia (1962) - 61,239 - 36. 8.5 Apocalypse Now (1979) - 131,559 - 37. 8.5 Taxi Driver (1976) - 111,213 - 38. 8.5 American Beauty (1999) 50 222,078 30, 479 39. 8.5 Léon (1994) 41 137,401 13, 176 40. 8.5 Vertigo (1958) 47 68,109 7, 980 41. 8.5 American History X (1998) 10 157,267 17, 865 42. 8.5 Amélie (2001) 11 132,431 23, 761 43. 8.5 Paths of Glory (1957) - 31,785 - 44. 8.5 The Departed (2006) 36 177,973 20, 855 45. 8.5 M (1931) - 28,216 - 46. 8.4 To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) 17 62,266 10, 929 47. 8.4 Chinatown (1974) - 56,933 - 48. 8.4 The Third Man (1949) - 37,674 - 49. 8.4 A Clockwork Orange (1971) - 142,412 - 50. 8.4 Alien (1979) - 132,349 - It should be kept in mind that, while this is only one specific group of people€”IMDB voters€”it nonetheless is a crude approximation of the tastes and opinions of our professional scholars, of our film critics and journalists, and even our filmmakers themselves. And we see here that they reflect the male perspective, not the female, and not anything approaching balance between the two. So, then, our cinematic tradition€”our €œcommon consensus€ about films€”is in fact simply a disguised male consensus. The above example merely confirms what was already established earlier in this article: 70 percent of newspaper critics and film journalists are men. Roughly the same figure applies to scholastic authors. 96 percent of Hollywood directors are men. And at least 80 percent of the major awards committee is made up of men. Those IMDB figures are not just the fallacy of a false analogy€”they are disturbingly applicable, even if they shouldn€™t be considered accurate. They give us a very crude idea of what the real picture actually looks like; they are there for example, to roughly illustrate how the common consensus undergoes significant shift when under the domination of the male demographic, and how that shift ends up arriving close to our traditional perspective of the cinema. In conclusion, what we consider a scholastic or critical artistic-cum-historical tradition is an illusion. It€™s simply a male one, with the odd female voice tempering things. Cinema is in its infancy, and scholastic criticism on it has really only been widely and seriously practiced for sixty years or so in America; what we consider to be history or tradition cannot possibly be anything close to that, for we are only a few generations removed from the birth of the medium itself. In 100 years from now, when a greater distance from its origins allows a wider view, and when the playing field is hopefully more leveled€”when 52 percent of directors are female, when 52 percent of film critics, scholars, and teachers are female, and when awards committees are 52 percent female€”we will see not only a totally different €œcommon critical consensus€ among contemporary films of that time, we will discover an entirely different one for the films made thusfar. Much like how Wizard of Oz became a classic only in the post-50€™s culture, the reputations of films ebb and flow€”certain ones come in and out of fashion, and earlier ones are re-appraised whether for better or worse as new viewpoints and perspectives enter the scholastic stream. In this hypothetical century of the future, those scholars may look back on the first 100 years of cinema scholarship€”our time€” as a narrow and limited one that was shaped and influenced by a select number of individuals and by almost no women at all. And in that time, an entirely different history book of cinema will emerge€”because it can€™t not emerge. The female perspective will change things. Here€™s hoping a wider scope of our art emerges faster than we expect it to. [Addendum: one issue I have chosen to ignore here: WHY is it that women don€™t write about and make films? I honestly can€™t give an answer right now. It€™s true that men are more enthusiastic about cinema; but it is as I said in my first article€”the only movie with women in the lead this summer are House Bunny and Sex and the City; every other film has women as girlfriends, wives and side-characters. If you were a woman, would this make you get enthusiastic about movies? My feeling is that it is partially a self-perpetuating cycle. But this is a large and complicated issue that I cannot even begin to get into here. All I can say is, if you are a woman with a passion for cinema, get out there and start making a difference€”the world needs you.] Michael Kaminski
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