I am in high dudgeon today over Seth MacFarlane’s hosting of the Academy Awards. I am not sure why I care so much as I am not much of a movie-goer, and I laugh consistently at Family Guy–and hate myself for it. But I am not the target audience for Family Guy and I understand that. Yet women make up 51% of movie audiences. The Academy’s decision to pander to adolescent boys, and MacFarlane’s blatant misogyny offends me. The onscreen hunt for Osama Bin Laden is validation of MacFarlane’s belief that women just. can’t. let. it. go. We saw your boobs, Meryl Streep. Where’s the orgy, asks the foul-mouthed teddy bear voiced by MacFarlane. (The answer, sadly, is Jack Nicholson’s house, site of Roman Polanski’s rape of a 13-year old.) That “flu” many of the female stars caught last week “paid off,” said MacFarlane as he nodded and grabbed an imaginary love handle. Jennifer Aniston is a stripper? Sally Field was hot; Salma Hayek was hot. Bla bla bla. There it is, ladies, the movie industry and its opinion of women in a nutshell.
You will not be surprised to know that women are far behind men in reaching the top jobs in the film business. A recent study found only 9 percent of directors of the top 250 grossing Hollywood films in 2012 were women – the same level as 15 years ago. In “The Celluloid Ceiling,” Martha Lauzen, executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, School of Theatre, Television and Film at San Diego State University, pointed out that the fact there are few women in key positions in the film industry was important not only as an employment issue but also as a larger cultural issue, as people tend to gravitate to creative projects that reflected their own personal reality.
“If (white) men are directing the vast majority of our films, the majority of those films will be about (white) males from a (white) male point of view,” said Lauzen. “Increasingly, this perspective does not reflect the community of filmmakers in this country or the community of moviegoers.”
When I was trying to explain to my daughter this morning why I am so upset at MacFarlane’s clear disdain (if not worse) for women, she answered,”Oh, Mom, that’s just you.” The good news is that it is NOT just me. A quick search of the Internet shows most related story headlines using words like banal, misogynistic, sexist, racist, homophobic, inappropriate, and best of all BOMB, when referring to MacFarlane’s hosting job. The bad news is that this outrage is what we will accept as progress.