— Robert Hays and Leslie Nielsen as Ted Striker and Dr. Rumack from Airplane!, 1980
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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:
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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