Blame the Audience
"Cinema trends ebb and flow, but one facet of Hollywood moviemaking proving remarkably consistent is gender inequality, according to a study...by USC's Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. In a survey of the top 100-grossing movies of 2009 — including 'Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,' 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince' and 'The Twilight Saga: New Moon' — researchers found that 32.8% of the 4,342 speaking characters were female and 67.2% were male, a percentage identical to that of the top-grossing movies of 2008...Behind the camera, the gender inequality is just as dramatic: only 3.6% of the directors and 13.5% of the writers on the top-grossing films of 2009 were female, according to the study." [LA Times]
What exactly is the phenomenon being decried here?
There are quite a few movies made with, about, and concerning women. The "problem" (if it is a problem) is that fewer people go to see those movies.
Since movie audiences are diverse, but skewed a bit toward teen-age and early 20s men, this means that 19 year old guys are less likely to want to see "Terms of Endearment" than "Transformers." If movie theaters made MORE ToEs and fewer Transformers movies, then the difference would not shrink, though revenue would go down.
My challenge: If there are profitable movies that are NOT being made because of gender bias, start your own movie company, ladies. You'll make a fortune! (I really liked "Bend it Like Beckham", btw. I would rather see that than Transformers 12, or even 1. So I'll watch your movies, ladies.)
The problem is that this claim is based on a shaky premise: the movie industry is not greedy or craven enough to make the movies that audiences really, really want. (Here is a really terrible discussion of the "science" of movie-going prediction).
Just go rent "Thelma and Louise" again, and rail against the patriarchy. And wait for the day when the general public is FORCED to like what you think they should like. Then we will have paradise.
(Nod to Kevin Lewis)