So few writers spot commercially exploitative nudity, graphic sex, explicit sexual violence & objectification of #womeninfilm. Fewer still have the clarity, conviction & courage to write about it. Eve Gerber is one of them. She does just that in her perceptive and brave piece in The Atlantic. And The Atlantic are perceptive and brave for having published it.
Repeated and increasing on-screen gratuitous nudity, graphic sex and sexual violence in Hollywood and its family of TV shows should worry.
Eve asks an interesting question: “Why aren’t critics talking about violence against women and Hollywood’s habitual commodification of it?"
After all, the same critics write about nearly everything else: Black Lives Matter, Lesbian Lives Matter, Bisexual Lives Matter, Gay Lives Matter, Trans-lives Matter, Queer Lives Matter.
Why aren't they writing enough about Women's Lives Matter when it comes to gratuitous nudity, sex and sexual violence on screen?
She provides some good answers: “Maybe because knowing how common it is for a woman to be beaten to death might disturb our enjoyment of watching it happen, again and again and again. And who wants to ruin a distraction by focusing on reality?”
But there’s more to it. And some answers aren’t as straightforward.
Something else should worry us more - the overwhelming number of women who are complicit in enabling such productions. The women who are promoting such films and shows on the most popular platforms, with all the money and muscle they can muster.
Hollywood and its family of TV shows have, for decades, been run almost exclusively by men - the primary offenders who’ve been called out repeatedly, by male and female writers. Boring, right?
But - and this is important - without women as silent (and not so silent) enablers, they simply couldn’t have succeeded, in leveraging excess on screen. On such a rollicking scale.
Audiences are guilty of rewarding such shows with their raging consumption of them.
Producers are guiltier still, of even more frenetic production of them.
So the more interesting question is: who is feeding what to whom and why and how?
Everyone knows the what - Eve’s helpfully listed a sad sample.
Eve has, rightly, highlighted HBO’s sorry role. But that’s an institution. Institutions commit no offences, bear no guilt, accept no responsibility. Individuals do that. On their own and in clusters.
Here’s the thing. The Undoing (2020) is a show of women, by women - for men. All right, largely for men. How?
The Undoing isn’t just any show. It’s powered by one of Hollywood’s powerhouses - Nicole Kidman. Not just as lead actor and star but as Executive Producer too.
The show’s lead Producer is a woman - Deb Dyer. Not just any woman Producer but the Co-Producer of top-billed Hollywood movies such as The Intern (2015), A Quiet Place (2018) and The Greatest Showman (2017).
Of the show’s seven Executive Producers, four are women - Nicole Kidman, Bruna Papandrea, Celia Costas, Susanne Bier.
And here’s the killer - the show’s Director is also a woman: Susanne Bier.
Which bits of the unapologetic exhibitionism listed in Eve’s piece, do you think are targeted at women audiences?
Who's feeding what to whom?
Rudolph Lambert Fernandez is an independent writer writing on pop culture.