"Transformers" Is NOT Anti-Feminist + More Women's Cinema Cliches I Want to Shut Down
I decided after a year or so being out and about online and in person, after much disagreement with many but not all otherwise amazing and lovely women in the entertainment field on women’s progress on multiple accounts, if I am not outspoken about what I wish would happen, who will be? Exactly.
Are you someone repeating everything you read about Transformers as fact, giving the film franchise a blame-all quality for all that is wrong with the world? You’ll see below what I said and I’ll say it up here to make things clear: though the franchise could work a little harder to please audiences a few times here and there, downright denouncing it as “anti-feminist” and every imaginable hateful label, saying girls and women don’t like it nor the genre? Wrong! Mess with something I love in a film genre I love, you will wind up with this lengthy rant aimed at shutting down all the garbage tossed left and right by women in film, or the media, claiming they speak for all women with high achieving filmmaking goals like me, and, well, you people out there reading.
Yes, we need more women in the film industry within assorted jobs. No, the current method isn’t working.
My beliefs on how progress is not going about the right way if people want to see more female filmmakers account for so much? Too much to write about in one diary entry. I’ll sum up a few of many issues I have received disagreeing feedback on from women in the industry far too often:
• I always say Kathryn Bigelow is the only A-list female director because she is the only one being offered whatever she wants or doesn’t equal to men’s offerings: Spider-Man, for example, was offered to her. She won an award for a film that wasn’t falling into “women’s cinema” stereotypes. People know her name. Fame is power. Power is the ability to do whatever you want. Ability means you are first choice to studios on the same level as men. Now, my honest intention: we need to expand that into trans women. Oh, the faces people make when I mention this! Because when I drop the names Lana Wachowski and Lilly Wachowski, the two women who made only one of the greatest sci-fi trilogies of all time in The Matrix, and the amazing Cloud Atlas, it’s all like you told someone to ask the ugliest guy to the prom in their reactions. And they say, “Yes!” out of force to be correct when you know they’re like, “But…” In my rule book of life, trans women are women. End of story. And, you aren’t A-list until you can do whatever you want in Hollywood like the guys do. Someone’s B, C, D list fame, or that one Oscar nomination, doesn’t mean studios let them do whatever they want like men do. Winning an Oscar often doesn’t let most men do anything they want with studios! Having a few female producers and studio executives doesn’t make high power women in film so commonplace, people don’t have to write “female producer” by her name every time.
The article is very interesting to anyone wanting to learn about how credibility is made amongst Hollywood filmmakers.
OK, what we have going on here is the distinction between studios agreeing to your film terms and someone like your average female filmmaker who isn’t Kathryn Bigelow like oh, any of the standard names the ladies in entertainment at every level mention to me, meaning a woman getting press for what she wears on the red carpet and some feminist fanbase behind her because she makes chick flicks. Women in film don’t seem to understand the distinction between making press in fashion magazines and tabloids, and being powerful enough to do what you want. They confuse tabloid fame with being A-list. No, sorry.
• The assumption they have that because a few women exist in animation and FX, there is now a grand interest in it. No, there isn’t. Women are pushed into documentary filmmaking but not FX work or animation. Nearly most people in these fields are men. A few women as TV and film producers and directors doesn’t mean they’re on the same level as men, or that the majority of Hollywood is now equally gender neutral, hired by talent first.
”We have Ava DuVernay,” says every woman in film ever. She broke the $100 million earning barrier. OK, let’s examine what I posted above about studios caring about money versus magazine fame, high brow with the Vogues of the world, or the high brow and tabloid variety. A Wrinkle in Time might have made over $100 million. The studio didn’t profit. According to Deadline, the studio lost $132.6 million.
At a meeting if she were to make another film for the studio, the first topic of discussion would be how her last film lost major money. By comparison, James Cameron talked studio executives into taking a gamble on a very Titanic sized budget despite them not wanting to because had delivered successes for them before. That is the difference in power. Doing whatever. You. Want. And for that matter, James Cameron isn’t out collecting magazine coverage for his cute street style, diets, feuds with exes, and handbag collection. Hey, what nail polish is he wearing this season? What are his beauty secrets? I’m not saying Ms. Duvernay participates in that so much but way too many female producers and female directors, some of whom double up as actresses and some who don’t, love getting attention for that. They happily participate with their PR teams in the dated system of covering women’s appearances before their talent. James Cameron isn’t in his underwear in a magazine with his hair product routine running beside the piece and very little about his work but a whole lot on his sex life tips. Mr. Cameron doesn’t get Daily Mail headlines regarding idiotic PR stunts he posted on Instagram Stories.
Nothing I write is an attack on Ms. Duvernay’s talent or nice person-ness. She seems lovely! My point: studios don’t care if you are a nice person. They want money. If studios don’t make money, nobody will have jobs. People can’t work for free. The end. If you want them to do what you want as a filmmaker, you need to bring income for them.
You can’t have it both ways. An A-list man might get coverage for his sleek tux at an event or a quick how to dress like him piece, but the majority of his press isn’t articles asking him what beauty supplies he keeps in his briefcase. I’m on the side of folks who insist yeah, women shouldn’t be shamed for wearing revealing clothes or clothes that look like human gift wrap wallpaper goofiness because that’s ignorant, but there is a time and place for them called date night or “the club.” When you wear revealing clothes to events where powerful men don’t wear revealing clothes, you aren’t being empowering because the expectation is that women are supposed to wear revealing clothes. Only when what you wear is a choice, like date night, is clothing empowering, and you need to be wearing professional, ladylike attire or you’ll never be on the same level as the men you want to be like. No amount of headlines pushing “empowerment” will ever make you on the same level. Not one man in the history of Best Director Oscar winners has claimed his award in a Speedo adorned in glue on fabric rose petals. Think about that. If red carpet expectations were equal for men, all the men would be taken seriously while wearing overly trendy clothing for the sake of fashion and/or lots of skin on show, the whole package. They don’t. If you want to be taken seriously, don’t dress like that when you’re going to professional events or meeting people you want to be like.
Does the next quote sound like any women are A-list power players to you today in 2019?
• Many, but thankfully not all or most though too much a solid number of, women seem to have little interest in wanting to learn the ropes, the how to’s. Why learn animation basics when you can hire people and not know what you’re telling them when you direct them? That’s like the number one cliche I am trying to break with all my learning I’m doing and documenting, and lo and behold, all these ladies are reinforcing the stereotype? Let’s not! Let’s together learn everything about filmmaking so we can be better filmmakers, and yeah, get hired by top studios for $$$!
• Inclusivity is prioritized over story. Yes, we need women to have better roles. No, we can’t rewrite Lord of the Rings stuffing women in it if were made today in 2019 because the #metoo movement said we should. We can’t rewrite history adding inaccurate stories because people at the time were not doing what we wished they were. I would love to have a live action story about a popular girl clique a la Regina George 18th century female composer scene. Is it real? Not one bit. As for modern stories, what am I supposed to do, make every character in a movie female? The only film pulling that off was the little talked about 2008 remake of The Women. A brilliant film if ever you’re in the mood for mind blowingly good acting in a story that relates to men or women, because men and women get their feelings crushed every day of their lives. The pressure to make everyone inclusive is good when it doesn’t affect the story like Sandra Bullock’s incredible Netflix film BirdBox, where the inclusive looking cast looked and acted like people you would naturally bump into in life, I agree that life shouldn’t look like a standard non-inclusive episode of Friends. but the way it is being done is so obvious, you do a visual search as a film goer, “Let’s look for how many people are inclusive today in this film.” The inclusive aspect steals the thunder from the movie. Not good. Funnily enough, the people doing inclusion right are generally in the world of children-oriented animation for film and television, telling stories about people like say, an entire family of Hispanic characters, without making them seem inclusive for the sake of it. The very genre called Family, that according to one poll I read online, was last on the list of popular genres with women, is the one most succeeding women and people of different nationalities! Important because Family is the first genre young people are exposed to, shaping them for the future.
• Women in entertainment are defining success in entertainment by the fact that women are working behind the camera in some capacity at all is all that matters (filmmakers, composers, set…). I disagree. The fact people are employed doesn’t mean you are at the top of the food chain of employment and career success. Equality happens when you see men and women making movies of any genre they want. Men’s and women’s names sharing the record holder and top earners’ lists.
• This one is divisive. I always wanted to make all my dreams happen in life because I’m ambitious, talented, qualified, and desired by the workplace. Women in the arts seem to be on a roll that you lead with gender first and get hired “because, gender” basically. And I don’t think women, who are talented and spectacular, should be reduced to this. This is not inclusion. This is being stereotyped. I don’t want to be stereotyped by my chronic illness or the eye drama it causes, my gender, or any variables in my life. LGBT women in the arts I meet seem to be less stuck on these because they are used to having to prove people wrong with the strength you’ve never seen until you meet them. Men get my view. Wheelchair jocks and everyday disabled people get it. Everyone else gets it except the many women demanding it. It makes me feel like if I succeed someday, “She succeeded in spite of being female.”
• Some, but not enough, women care about the objectification of men on screen. Does #metoo apply to men? Apparently not. I wish I could go deeper into this issue reporting on it for a magazine that lets me.
• As seen in some works, and the trailer for the “feminist” Superbad wannabe film Booksmart, it’s still cool to objectify LGBT friends as long as straight women characters on screen are the ones doing it. The girl in the trailer makes some really horrible sexualized, cliched remarks to her friend that sound like the stuff dumbo guys used to say in the 90’s to LGBT female friends in films and, well, life. Not cool. I haven’t seen the actual movie as of now but hope when I do, it doesn’t continue that humor. It doesn’t matter who says it. Saying hurtful things like that is a no.
• Can I scream this enough times in print? I will; this point is VIP. We have little representation, and equality, in genres outside of genres women in film think are important. A tiny group of feminist activist types in Hollywood is speaking on behalf of all female filmmakers and film fans in the world with, “We only want women’s films like Lady Bird. Anything else is misogynist.” False! Women responded really well to seeing Sandra Bullock in strong roles like The Net. Jada Pinkett Smith in The Matrix series. And many forgotten examples from the pre-#metoo universe.
• Women speak against how studios only care about money, wondering why most little stereotypical “women’s films” genre films don’t get made. I don’t know, because studios don’t want everyone working for free? This should be number one on my list at the moment; it’s not due to my anger towards people not including all women when they say “women in film.”
• Another divisive thing: I’m against hiring all female crews and all female casts because acting like men did in the heydey of sexism isn’t helping the case towards feminism. That said, if you do that, I will remain your friend. Friends are friends, not clones. I respect your choice to do so like I hope you respect my view because seeing both sides’ reasoning as to why is understandable with all women crews. A huge reminder to all the women in favor of all female crews: if all female crews were a thing decades ago, many of the now powerful male producers and male film directors empowering women through hiring ladies today would have never been given job opportunities, and ironically, you women insisting on all female crews and/or all female casts wouldn’t have anything going on today having never been hired by those men. And, many women who could give you opportunities who have been hired by those men would not have jobs today. Discrimination is discrimination! Doesn’t matter who does the discriminating.
• People differ with me on success goals. Success for them, as I said in my first point: the existence of women in film. My view: existing in a profession is not ruling an industry.
• This one bothers me and I’m going to mention it because inclusion riders are dripping into freelance journalism hirings now. Keeping it at one point of many I have on inclusion riders. As my goal is to continue in film and always do journalism in my life, I will probably encounter more of this in the millennial hiring era until it falls out of favor. Yes, I feel uneasy with people talking to me, and so far not hiring me, on the basis of things like gender, disability, background, so on.
It grows more frustrating when you discuss why you meet the criteria for “legal disability” with a health issue and some stuff caused by it. People hiring don’t realize, or want to, that legally protected disabilities include a solid number of chronic health problems for many people, and if you are going down the route of insisting people need to have one or more legal disabilities, you need to hire all of us. A hierarchy exists of which legal disabilities are more fashionable according to the time you apply. Check the Daily Mail and other publications’ politically correct disability empowerment(!) headlines to see if yours is popular now. It won’t be for long.
The other day on Twitter, someone wrote me about being confused why I mentioned diabetes with inclusion riders and said I was “getting off topic.” I explained why I am not: legal disability definition. I have since deleted my Tweets because the conversation went from there into stuff like the otherwise nice but stubborn person claiming any journalists’ data and published articles I have bookmarked about the lack of women in film being “fan opinions” and basically fake news, and a few women having a presence in Hollywood apparently meaning the stats were false, amongst other things.
• In fact, like the person on Twitter I mentioned, avalanches of really amazing women are starting to fall into the club of “opinion over data” irrational beliefs arguing things, which ironically, is the argument many of those same predominantly liberal Hollywood women use when they dislike Fox News, and vice versa when I used to hear one government teacher of mine denouncing anyone who wasn’t Fox News with “liberal bias.” I heard that view, of opinion triumphing over journalists’ facts for at least a good year or however long this millennial women’s empowerment movement has been going on.
I Realized: Can Represent Female Filmmakers and Film Fans Like Me, Who Do Not See Their Views Represented in the Small Group of Women in Hollywood Speaking for “All Women.” Starting With Being Outspoken myself.
I wrote my first ever YouTube comment today on a TED Talks video. This one, titled “The Women in Film Revolution Begins With You,” spoken by Naomi McDougall-Jones.
Hitting copy and save to repost here in my diary, I’ll try my best to recall it. I was seeking inspirational videos for women in film I could relate to. Off topic, as someone who was born with natural carrot hair that is now a dark auburn, I root (get it? ;) ) for anyone with any form of red hair. I wanted to like her speech before I clicked play because of the red haired thing!
The TED Talk had a very vibrant, excellent actress as a speaker with some good, well researched points I would have appreciated without the attitude towards anything that is not a drama, Bridesmaids thing, “women’s movie,” basically being junk. You find this in every women in cinema pep talk.
Why don’t women direct blockbusters? Because too many speak for “all women,” and openly make fun of them.
When you look at statements like this…
…you understand, the misconception happens because whenever I look at imagery, speeches, articles, or statements of any kind from women in the arts, they reflect how many women in cinema frown down on blockbusters and anything that doesn’t dip outside the stereotypes of “women’s films.”
Behold, my YouTube comment. The speaker in part of it made fun of Transformers as in, “You guys don’t want to be watching Transformers 65; support women in film!” Something along that almost exactly to the word on the first part before the semi colon. My rushed and heartfelt comment! Ta-da.
Yeah, I say whatever is on my mind a lot more, uh, “strongly,” when I’m hungry. Diabetes!
In the past month, I have learned, when I get angry about something, it means I really love it. I blew up when someone spilled grape syrup on my precious Ugg boots; cleaning them for an hour was a joy and I got it out in frustration. You do not mess with my Ugg boots. You don’t try to school me about soy milk’s dangers to mankind. I am convinced soy milk makes British imported tea taste better. Oh, how I love dairy and my soy for tea. And, you don’t mess with my action and sci-fi movies, and certainly not my Transformers, of which immediately after I watched Bumblebee on rental, I recorded a podcast episode revealing my heart’s content: I wished I could make a Transformers movie so badly. Animated, how cool! Or not. I would bring it and put all those people to shame how they say Transformers movies are degrading to women simply because women aren’t out preaching civil liberty suffrage rights to Optimus Prime. Excuse me, there are more methods of being feminist beyond the one called “in your face.” Working on female characters within the franchise, and having storytelling exciting newer audiences seeing their first film in the series, makes all the difference for ANY franchise! I mean this when I say this, I would actually cry real tears if I’m 60 years old every morning feeling like a failure and I have never made a big blockbuster movie like that or been in the running to do it.
No idea how to end this post because I have too much to say on it. Clearly, female filmmakers do want to make blockbusters because all my life, I wished I could be like Peter Jackson making animated works and blockbusters both. I am speaking out because someone else in this world must be like me. What I wrote today is true of THIS DAY in time. Someday, the older me will look back on this diary entry. When I do, I hope the future older and wiser me has accomplished all I dream of, living in a progressive time when gender is irrelevant to filmmaking achievements.
Transformers is the first film people knock when they want to divide “real movies” from “bad movies appealing to immature little boys.” Uh, where have you been? Did you not watch Bumblebee, starring a strong female lead in the gorgeous and talented Hailee Steinfeld? Did they not miss that there are female scientists and army folks in the first of the Transformers? I get it, you don’t like the movies. Why do you assume little girls don’t like movies about fold out cars? Teen girls don’t like seeing teen girls on screen or college age girls doing action? That no women want to make these movies because they find them fun? Everything you dislike about action, if you hate it, or sci-fi, blockbusters, any popcorn films, oh, let’s use the word Transformers and have it mocked by the audience of folks at my TED Talk? Goodness. We should have “women’s films” made, and women making “men’s films.” Men making films about parenting and whatever women do. People making not “women’s films” but '“anyone’s films.”
Someday making a Transformers movie is a goal of mine now. Hoping it comes true. The film represents evil to women, it seems, and the accusation is unjust. I feel like on a dare, but taking it seriously and I’m all about proving people wrong, I can make a Transformers film, or maybe more than one(!), with universal appeal, a good story that yes girls and women will love, inspiring special effects, excitement, and who knows, maybe just make it one of the most successful films of its release era. Goals!!!!!
Here’s what I’m stacked up against. Accusations like…
And these are a few of many repetitive things online. The last one is particularly annoying because it’s not like girls like robots, and like, stuff, like beyond, like, lip gloss, like? Because I don’t know any little girls who played with robot toys and video games, who grew up to be female filmmakers with goals of making a Transformers film and any blockbuster sci-fi films, who on the side are studying with FX classes and learning Maya and…oh, me!!!!! Yeah, I was never a girl or a grownup female person! All girls and women are alike! According to Refinery29! Did you know I am a lip gloss wearing female, I who own lip gloss like my fav, Almay lip gloss in Angelic? And I played with toy cars and trucks? I love sci-fi blockbusters with ROBOTS? Is such a thing possible!??!?!
Please permit Mr. Robert Downey Jr. to express my inner feelings.
Thanks for reading! A conversation for another day. Way too much to write in one snippet! So much to say! On my list of goals and really, in a film series about feisty young people, doesn’t it make sense to hire me for it, an actual former feisty teen who used to show up without invites at awards shows and red carpet events one time zone away from my homework in Illinois over in NYC because I could? Who cut class? Who did all kinds of stuff? How crazy is it that all these people writing screenplays, producing work, the et cetera, for these franchises have never once been actual Ferris Bueller teens, or you know, those types of girls? If female, the screenwriting/directing jobs always go to the corporate nice lady types who had their noses buried in books back then? I’m actually the stereotypical sarcastic meets sweet meets feisty teen/college aged girl portrayed in not only Transformers , all these franchises, with that personality type who had to grow up but that lives within me. If anyone out there is listening, and you now or in the future want a blockbuster film directed and written by someone who isn’t a serious corporate type female or grown up male screenwriter/filmmaker struggling to fill the stilettoed angry shoes of a butt kicking female lead, hire me! My vibe might not work for a subdued period piece on women’s equality. It works for this! I had no interest in physically being at school. When I was 15, the compromise my parents came up with, along with the rule “if you’re going to do something, always tell us where you are and take the cell phone,” was I could do distance college classes mixed with some in person college classes subbing them in for high school; I hated high school, any school really. The whole school socialization setting that much compared to the rest of the world available in my hands. Me cutting class to go off on an adventure with some Transformers robots is something my real 15 year old self would do!
xoxo, Nic :)