You may have read plenty of rages against the movie and TV machines, articles crying out for more fleshed-out, interesting, dynamic female characters/writers/producers/actors – or, heck, just more females – in pop culture. Perhaps you carry around Bridesmaids and Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black as totems of how popular a “lady-centric” story can be. You might even be optimistic about the rate of change – until, inevitably, a media captain like Aaron Sorkin makes a disheartening comment about women-in-Hollywood YET AGAIN.
On Monday, Sorkin, the guy behind such male-centric films and TV series as The Social Network and The Newsroom, gave a talk at Tribeca’s Innovation Week and reignited an debate we thought we put to rest. Female talent is out there, so let’s see more of it!
Sorkin had a different take. The auteur responded to a query about the lack of prominent female screenwriters with “I promise you nothing but capitalism drives decision making in Hollywood…the trick is there just needs to be more good scripts that have the kind of characters you’re looking for.”
So what he’s saying is that there aren’t enough good women writers or characters out there? Molly Mulshine, who wrote a smart op-ed in the Observer, isn’t buying it and neither am I. In retort, Mulshine wrote, “Pretending institutionalized sexism isn’t to blame for the dearth of female film protagonists is just crazy.” She argues instead that we should be holding our industry elite to a higher standard. We should be demanding change, not waiting for it.
So, I made a list of my demands. Hey, world! I am a moviegoer! I buy tickets! And here is a list of movies that I, a-person-with-money, would pay to see, by (gasp!) women in the media.
1) VEEP Goes to the White House, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus. What if Vice P. Selina Meyer was to make it all the way to the tippy-top of Pennsylvania Avenue? This show is hilarious; stands to reason a movie would be, too.
2) Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant in the spin-off of their SNL sketch, Dykes and Fats. These controversially-named, hilarious characters could easily hold up a cop spoof (a la Starsky and Hutch).
3) Is it finally time for a female James Bond? (Sorkin actually mentioned this possibility in his interview.) Possibile stars: the ass-kicking Rooney Mara, Mad Men’s impressively cool Christina Hendricks, or ice queen Lena Headey from Game of Thrones.
4) Web-series double feature – what about a movie version of a) Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson’s Broad City AND b) a movie version of Sasheer Zamata and Nicole Byer’s littler-known Pursuit of Sexiness? If they can even contemplate a third Sex and the City flick, the world will roll over for these two hilarious city-dwelling duos.
5) I’ve been a fan of Diablo Cody’s particular brand of black humor since 2011’s Young Adult, and will happily follow her next anti-teen-comedy to the nearest Cineplex.
6) Just go with me on this, everyone: if the Apatow machine can churn out glad-handing bromances every few months (and don’t get me wrong – I love those), why can’t the women of Hollywood? Can Kay Cannon write a modern revamp of 1980’s 9 to 5? And can it star Maya Rudolph, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey? It’s not like I’ve had this idea for years or anything.
7) Elena Ferrante’s “Neapolitan Novels” trilogy is just begging to be a mini-series. Her first novel, My Brilliant Friend, perfectly captures a young female friendship while brutally addressing issues of class in a post-war Italy. And while I’m in the novel neighborhood…
8) Rachel Kushner’s The Flamethrowers is a haunting, strange story of a young girl’s coming of age in the thrust of the sixties New York art scene. Would love to see this movie done well.
9) Where are all the ladies-who-rock biopics? I’m talking about Carole King and Patti Smith and Janis Joplin and Tina Turner! Val Kilmer was Jim Morrison! Joaquin Phoenix was Johnny Cash! You just know Jennifer Hudson could pull out a convincing Proud Mary, and I’d love to see some up n’comer be a girl on Redondo Beach.
10) A screenplay by recent Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright, Annie Baker. Her empathic, light touch in plays like Body Awareness is super elegant and super funny at the same time.
Okay, Hollywood: ball’s in your court.