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October 9, 2007

Who Cares If Broads Don’t Get Leads?

— Posted by John Campea

In the wake of the Warner Bros. controversy yesterday (Coles Notes version: A Warner Bros. President allegedly said that Warner would no longer even consider scripts that have female lead characters, which Warner Bros now denies he ever said) something interesting came up that I thought deserved discussion.

Some people in comments, emails and other websites asked the question “what’s the big deal even if WB is going to do that?”, or “Hey, it’s just business”, or one website (a good one that was just expressing its opinion) even wrote the following:

I have a fair amount of respect for what John Campea, has achieved with The Movie Blog but one of his latest posts just amuses the hell out of me.

Here is my question to all of the movie sites who wanted this boycott to happen. What exactly that is harmful would Warner Brothers have been doing by following this plan. Truthfully, they would not have been hurting anyone.

Now let me say this post is NOT about the WB controversy, but rather some of the attitudes that surfaced in the midst of the debacle. This one specifically…. WHO CARES IF SOME STUDIO BANNED MOVIES WITH FEMALE LEADS? Apparently, some people feel it would be no big deal at all. I however, disagree.

Take for example the above statement: “What exactly that is harmful would Warner Brothers have been doing by following this plan.”

It would have been a social harm. I don’t blame WB or any studio for looking at any script and deciding againt them for whatever reason… but to flat out say, without so much as giving those projects a reading or opportunity, that they wouldn’t even consider scripts with WOMEN in the lead, is socially unacceptable and harmful to a social standard.

Question: What if instead of women, a policy came out that said “We won’t even read scripts that have gays in the lead”, or blacks, or hispanics, or Muslims? To say “we won’t even CONSIDER (or give opportunity) to something based on its gender or color or religion or race” is socially unacceptable and should be stood against.

Look, If a studio looks at 5 scripts, giving them each a fair reading and opportunity, and they feel the one with the women lead stands less of a chance at success than another one of the scripts, fine… that’s business and that’s totally fair. But to say “we won’t even consider a script that calls for one of those black people in the lead” is reprehensible.

Business is business. I get it. But we also have social standards by which business must be conducted. A study may show (I’m totally making this up for the sake of the illustration) that customers are 12% less likely to buy something from a store that has a Muslim sales clerk. A “business is business” mentality says that a store should have the right to refuse to allow muslims to apply for jobs in their stores. But our social standard says you have to give that person the opportunity to at least apply and to be judged on their individual merits. You have to give them the opportunity.

So yes, that report that came out yesterday about Warner Bros. refusing to even read or consider scripts with female leads (true or not) made me mad as hell, frustrated, and above all saddened.

Movies with women as the lead characters or that focus on their stories are already few and far between, and quite often the ones that do get production are horrible to start with. It IS NOT Hollywood’s responsibility to force themselves to make more women centric films or to instill some sort of quota for number of films with female leads… but at the same time it is not their socially acceptable liberty to just eliminate all opportunity for such films either. That would be wrong.

And when such wrongs occur, we have 2 choices. 1) Stand against it and let the offending party know we won’t accept such behavior. Or 2) We can just ask “Who Cares If Broads Don’t Get Leads?”

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  • http://www.thetvshowblog.com Rodney

    John, how many times have I told you to stop calling Chicks “Broads”

  • Xanther

    Well it’s strange how intolerance begets intolerance. How can you sit back and call WB intolerant of female leads and be intolerant to them doing so. Those at WB should be fully aware of what repercussions such a decision will have, and let the free market decide whether or not such a decision is a good one or not. Who are we to say that this is financially sound or not, we do not have the numbers. If making such decisions brings financial ruin, so be it by letting those scripts be picked up by other studios. Some studios specialize in indi films, others horror, that’s just the way it is. It’s just streamlining the process.

  • Senor Chefy

    “Who Cares If Broads Don’t Get Leads?”

    I don’t think that was EVER in question- and the idea WB would not cast female leads is ludicrous. Saying no single female lead billing (ie- Angelina Jolie- IS Tomb Raider) is much different than saying no female leads ever. Either way, conspiracy theories aside, WB said it was bunk, which makes this who cares and who doesn’t a theoretical debate.

  • http://www.filmgrotto.com/ John A.

    I was thinking on this a bit more and really I just can’t blame the studios. I blame the general movie goers. Overall, they have stated they want the same generic entertainment fed to them. If the studios respond and give it they are not at fault. We are at fault.

    I do not include movie bloggers and blog readers in this category fully as we generally like to think about movies and willing to give alternatives to the big block buster a chance.

    I also should say one more thing. More power to John C. and anyone else who believes in something and stands up for it. You feel strongly about it and were willing to do something about it. That is admirable, so many people would just let it slide.

  • http://www.filmgrotto.com/ John A.

    I wrote the original post that John C. is referring too. I first off want to say that I do actually think the WB would have been wrong if they did follow through with this plan. I think it would have been a poor business decision as they would have missed out on many good movies.

    I guess it is mostly the due to the fact that I’m pretty cynical but I just don’t see the real the difference between choosing to an earlier time frame to drop movies of a specific nature. I think it would be naive to believe that the studios don’t already drop movies because they feel the general movie going audience will not spend their money.

    For me this equates exactly with choosing to not release subtitled film, foreign film, nc-17 films. The general movie going audience has said we will not watch these so why should the studio be forced to put out movies that will cause them to either make less money than they would have made if they had made something extremely main stream or to even cause them to loose money.

    Perhaps I’m wrong but it seems to me if we were to boycott WB based on this we should also be boycotting several of the TV stations and other movie studios for limiting the number of movies/shows with minorities in.

    On a personal side, do I think they would be morally wrong for doing it, yup I do but like I said I’m a cynic and I think people are morally wrong in about 50% of the things they do and businesses are probably 95% morally wrong most of the time. Yes I’m exaggerating a bit. ;)

  • dark_venom

    i have changed my mind about this, who cares is right, beacuse i dont care if they want to do it i will still see there movies

  • http://newsinfilm.com Jeff
  • Jack Burton Says

    Pick your battles, gentlemen. Jodie Foster and Charlize Theron won’t go hungry because Warner doesn’t want to make movies with them in the lead anymore. Neither will anyone else in the movie biz. Save all that passion for people who can use them, and causes that need them. Arguing endlessly about what millionaires do 3 months out of the year is akin to trying to save your good China while your house burns down around you. This is not the Middle Ages, and there will be no social ramifications on a larger scale. It is the movie business. They are shallow, corrupt, vain, and at the end of the day, they are all millionaires.

  • Stuart

    Sorry to go off the topic of this thread but has there been any write ups of how your film showing went John?

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