| Scheer Intelligence

The Rise and Fall of Female Moviemakers in Hollywood (Audio)

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A recent report from the Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism finds that women remain grossly underrepresented behind the camera in film and television. That hasn’t always been the case. As award-winning critic and historian Carrie Rickey reveals, the earliest decades of the film industry featured highly talented and provocative film directors like Lois Weber, who made a series of movies about abortion, infidelity and sexual harassment on the job as early as 1915.

Then followed decades of systemic exclusion of female writers and directors.

With the rise of the modern women’s movement came a wealth of new opportunities, but they soon dried up in an industry that remained heavily dominated by men. “The year I started as a movie critic was 1980,” Rickey tells Truthdig’s Robert Scheer, “when female TV and movie directors were 0.5 percent. And by 2000, it was 11 percent, so I thought, ‘OK, we’re going in the right direction.’ But you know what? Eighteen years after 2000, it’s still 11 percent. We’re stalled.”

In the latest episode of “Scheer Intelligence,” Rickey debunks some of the most common rationalizations for the lack of female representation in Hollywood, and argues that the only way to make the industry more inclusive is to stop talking and just do it. “Having majority men behind the camera is inimical to equal employment, equal pay, and equal representation,” she contends. “When you see a world that is as it is now, 89 percent seen through the eyes of male directors, there’s a lot you’re not seeing.”

Rickey’s five-part series for Truthdig, titled “What Happened to the Female Directors of Hollywood?,” earned an award from the Los Angeles Press Club, whose judges said it “[stood] out for its examination of the gender gap in the film industry—how it started, and how it has been allowed to continue for so long. The research is exhaustive and the writing engaging.”

Listen to her full interview with Robert Scheer below:

Carrie Rickey
In addition to writing film reviews and essays for Truthdig, Carrie Rickey has been a film critic at The Philadelphia Inquirer and Village Voice and an art critic at Artforum and Art in America. Rickey has…
Carrie Rickey
Robert Scheer
Editor in Chief
Robert Scheer, editor in chief of Truthdig, has built a reputation for strong social and political writing over his 30 years as a journalist. His columns appear in newspapers across the country, and his…
Robert Scheer

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