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Women in Hollywood

Women in Hollywood

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Published by Monica Kempski

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Published by: Monica Kempski on Sep 30, 2010
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Monica Kempski AMST204 Response Paper 2 Rough DraftWomen have been discriminated against in film ever since the beginning of Hollywood.With the changing times, some female directors have emerged. However, they are not dominantin their field and their movies are very undermining of femininity. Thus, the men of Hollywoodhave the constant source of power, upholding their male dominance through several movies, asexplained in
 America on Film
 by Benshoff and Griffin.The discrimination of women in film has been persistent throughout history. In classicfilms, women were portrayed with ³innocence, purity, and the need to be protected´ (Benshoff,and Griffin 208). Thus, a woman was weak and relied entirely on a man to make her feel safe.This implies that a female cannot fend for herself and is not mentally or physically strong enoughto withstand the problems that she faces. In particular, there is one genre of movies thataccurately fulfills this description. This genre is the ³Disney-Princess´ movies. Take for example,
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
. Even her name, ³Snow White´ implements theimage of purity, virginity, and goodness. In this movie, Snow White is helpless and falls into adeep sleep, only to be awakened when the masculine prince arrives to save her. What is mostfrightening is that this is a children¶s movie. In result, from an early age, a girl may think that sheis supposed to act timidly to be feminine, rather than being her strong independent self.The 1950s brought a new discriminate perspective: the sexually attractive female. Withthe help of photography, women were made sexually appealing so they became the item of men¶s attention. She is nothing more than a visual for men to enjoy (Benshoff, and GriffinCh.11). Again, a woman¶s independent identity is obliterated, and continues to be dependent on
 
the male. When a woman is able to get what she wants in films, she flaunts herself sexually tothe male. There are several Disney princesses that fit this description as well. Esmeralda in
 Hu
nchback of Notre Dame
, Meg from
 H 
erc
u
les
, and Jasmine from
 Aladdin
all uses their excessive beauty and sexual allure to persuade or distract the villain in order to obtain their goal.These several Disney princess films are evidence of the ³virgin-whore complex,´ which portraysthe message to little girls that they may either ³good´ or ³bad´ sexually (Benshoff, and Griffin210).This is a stereotypical trap for women, which small girls fall into from an early age whilewatching Disney movies. If they are considered ³good,´ they ultimately become contingent tothe male, losing their identity. In contrast, if they are considered ³bad,´ they are looked downupon in society. Is it fair to categorize women in only two groups?
The Lion King 
is an interesting case when one focuses on female discrimination. It can beargued that females are considered unimportant because they are only background characters.Returning to the stereotypical passive female, the lionesses are helpless when the kingdom istaken over by the evil Scar. Only when the male lion, Simba, returns do they regain their kingdom. However, it can be argued that females have a small amount of power in the film. For example, the lioness Sarabi is not afraid to speak her mind to Scar when he is controlling her kingdom. Next, Simba¶s female lion friend Nala is constantly able to pin him down when they play-fight. Finally, Shenzi is the female hyena in Scar¶s henchmen group. She, of the threehyenas, is the smartest and seems to be the dominant leader. These characters definitely representa progress in representation of the stronger, more dominant, independent woman.Feminine progress has also come about throughout history because women have becomedirectors. However, it can be argued that this progress is deceiving. Presently in the DirectorsGuild of America, seven percent of its members are female ("MSNBC.com"). Sadly, this is an
 
improvement from classical film. In the early days of film, only a couple of females emerged asdirectors in the dominated male industry. To make their dream happen, these women had to push themselves to extreme measures, or they just became lucky. Some females first had to become actresses to possibly have the chance to get in the director¶s chair. One particular femaledirector who went to the extreme to gain equality was Dorothy Arzner. To do this, she dressed,talked, and acted like a man (Benshoff, and Griffin 216). It is sickening that this was the onlyway a female could make progress is to blend in; losing her individuality, and become the very person she is not.Today, nine percent of the 250 top grossing domestic films were directed by women(Ulaby). One of these films was
Twilight 
, directed by Katherine Hardwicke. Even with itssuccess, the movie¶s content contains the ultimate discriminating representations of the femalegender. First Bella, the story¶s protagonist, is not a hero. Besides being smart, she has noqualities that allow her to be looked up to. Often, she is sarcastic and cold to her peers. Theseactions are due to her obsession with Edward Cullen, a vampire whom she loves. Her overwhelming compassion for him is feminine in nature, and she is succumbed to the stereotypethat the woman lives for the man. Edward Cullen himself is an ultimate representation of a malein film. He is extremely handsome and strong, and is there on countless occasions to save and protect Bella. In the climax, Bella is so infatuated with Edward that she wishes to become avampire so she can be with Edward forever. Sara Seltzer 
 , a female col 
u
mnist 
, describes Bella andher situation best in her article when she states ³[Bella is willing] to sacrifice her physical safety,her education, and her family and social ties for Edward--and the well-meaning but stringentcontrol he exerts over her.´ Ultimately, Bella fulfills the classical Hollywood stereotype because

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