So Adam Driver, from a show called Girls has been cast as the villain in the upcoming Star Wars movie. This isn’t what I’m going to rant about though. I’m sure he’ll do fine, J.J. Abrams isn’t known for picking bad actors for anything really, so while I don’t know Adam’s work I am sure he’ll be fine. What I’m going to rant about is the article in which I found out this news. I’m also going to do what the writer of the article that pissed me off didn’t. I’m going to say, if all you clicked on this article for is Star Wars news stop here. The above is all I have on that.
I was browsing Yahoo news when the headline of course caught my eye: “What Star Wars‘ Casting of Adam Driver Says About Hollywood” Naturally I clicked on it, it’s Star Wars news. The article, the more I read it, irritated the hells out of me and then got me to thinking about the creative process, gender bias, and people in general, making more of an issue out of things that really aren’t an issue. The writer of the article, Noah Gittell, is making the argument that TV is more progressive than movies and to him, here’s why. This guy, Adam, is on a show called Girls, about Girls, and the first actor from the show about Girls to get a break in a movie, is a guy. Then he goes on to talk about how movies require their females leads to be skinny, attractive, etc etc. I’ll let you read it.
I’ll get to his major points in a minute, but I just have to say, Hollywood has a writer/creator that created a villain who happens to be male, and they hired a male actor to play him?! Oh My Gods! What is this world coming too?! He is using this great news for Star Wars fans to try and prove a gender bias point, that may or may not exist. Yes, it probably does, but why not go at that head-on. Why take this awesome bit of information about our highly-anticipated release of new Star Wars movies and twist it into an agenda? When will creators and writers, artists, and the like, be able to create something that isn’t examined through the lens of gender bias, racial bias, or any other bias? Will we ever get to a point where writers aren’t worried about having enough females in their stories, or minorities, different cultures, religions, etc? How long will it be before a book is released that isn’t scoured, and scored, marked and weighed against some example of a perfectly diverse utopia? I want diversity, I want variety, I want strong female characters saving weak male characters, but what I don’t want is the lack of those things to always be an indication of something wrong. And, how is that even an issue here?! We don’t know how many female vs male roles are in these movies yet. Are the female leads going to be stereotypical damsel-in-distress sex objects? We don’t know. So why is he using Star Wars, Adam, and Girls to try and make a point? Because he knows people right now are frothing for Star Wars news, and the title of the show is Girls. If this were any other show the impact of the comparison would be non-existent to start with.
So, onto his first argument. Why is the first actor from the show Girls, to get a major role in a movie, a guy? Well let’s first ask, does that matter? Should someone have told Disney/Abrams “Hey, if you want to hire someone from Girls it has to be one of the girls,”, “But, the role is for a male villain.”, “Well, that’s not fair, change it or hire someone from Men at Work.” How do Adam’s female costars feel about this? Are they told, “You know, Adam, in fact no male on this cast, can get a major role in a movie until you do, it’s just not fair.” Imagine you are hearing that, being friends with your coworker, and wanting them to succeed just as much as you do.
Next Noah seems to make the case that the girls on Girls are not getting major movie parts because of Hollywood’s obsession with body image, and a certain standard of beauty. I will not deny that there is still a problem with this in movies, and TV, books, comics, etc. While it is getting better, it’s far from great when it comes to depicting a wide spectrum of our society in entertainment media. Is he saying the girls on Girls aren’t beautiful, athletic to thin, almost model type women? It seems like it, though he does walk it back a bit and give one of them a compliment and call one of them too quirky for a lead. I beg to differ, however. Go to IMDB.com and look up girls. Just one of them, Allison Williams, easily fits the definition of Hollywood beauty. If female movie leads get their parts based only on physical appearance she’d star in everything. The rest of the main cast of women are also quite attractive, and all have quite a unique look that I myself find fantastic. They don’t all look alike, or like any other actresses out there. I personally think all four of them are far more attractive than quite a few of the female leads in movies past and present.
So, since we can say it’s not body image or beauty that kept them from getting a part before their male coworker, could it possibly have been something else? Sure, at least two of them it may have come down to experience. One of the girls, Lena Dunham, has only been working since Girls started. That’s right, her first role ever is the one she currently has. The other girl, Jemima Kirke, has only been an actress since 2012 according to IMDB. Adam has been working since 2009. That leaves the other two ladies with a few years on him, 5 more years for Allison, and 15 more for Zosia. Not to mention the part called for a man. Now I don’t know their skill level, again, I haven’t watched the show. Also since Noah seems to think the women don’t fit the bill of Hollywood’s definition of beauty, I’m thinking he might not have watched it either, so who’s to say if these women have the skill to be movie leads. They might, might not, I couldn’t say.
He then goes on to more accurately, but long-windedly point out why TV is better at being diverse than movies. In all the extended paragraphs at the end you can boil it down to cost. A Movie is essentially a one-time deal. You make it, at a high cost, put it out, and people see it or they don’t. You can’t cancel a movie half way through and save money, or change it while viewers are watching to make things more appealing. You can take more risks with TV, period. You can try more things, you can get more innovative, because it’s cheaper, easier to change, and if it sucks, you can stop production before you spend too much. That’s all, end of story.
So, is there a problem with gender bias and an a heavy representation of awful female and male stereotypes in movies, and pretty much all entertainment media? Yes. Is the casting of Adam as a villain in Star wars an example of it? No. Shame on Noah for using a huge bit of news, and linking it to an issue that really shows no relation. He cheapens Adam’s success and the creator’s art, and doesn’t really help the issue he’s championing.