Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Lady Writers: The Glitter Kitten Chronicles

Jane Espenson, who has had a long writing careers spanning a number of popular television programmes, has written an article entitled On Sex and Writing (Not That Kind of Sex) which discusses gender politics within an industry that is dominated by male writers.

It's an interesting article with some interesting viewpoints, but I do have to disagree with it on a few points.

First of all when Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Moore (Battlestar Galatica) are referenced it does kind of emphasise that they worked in niche television and were loudly and strongly lauded for going against the grain (and to be fair, there has also been criticism). Using them as examples only reinforces what the industry as a whole doesn't do well, not what it does as a general rule of thumb.

She states that 'good writers can write across the gender lines' but that begs the question then why are our television screens are filled with the type of female character where her primary purpose is to be decorative, an object of romance, or to be something to be rescued - in other words she is there to support the storyline of the male character. Or why there is a disproportionate lack of women on screen - 51% of the lead characters on primetime are certainly not women.

It is arguably important that we have diversification around the writing table, even if it is fictional works that are being created. Considering the amount of leisure time that people have, and the amount of time used consuming media, it's important that we don't just have a monolithic viewpoint that's there to prop up stereotypes that we all unthinkingly carry around. If a good writer though can write from any viewpoint then I guess it doesn't matter that only 10% of writers in Hollywood are minorities or that 75% are male, but there's been enough journal articles churned out on the subject that suggests that it does matter.

Jane's answer to these statistics is for more women to submit work. That's absolutely true, you can't hire more women if there's nobody submitting an application, but she also fails to mention the majority of the decision makers as to who gets hired and what gets made are, wait for it, white men.

If Jane is really suggesting that a good writer can write across gender lines then given the state of Hollywood it must be brimming with inadequate ones.

/ I'm not slating all television, it raised me after all. It could just do better.

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