TV is an escape. An hour or half-hour, or sometimes a full day of binge-watching, for viewers to lose themselves in entertainment, get in touch with themselves through story, and get their minds temporarily off real life problems.
But so much has changed in the world in only a few months — and that privilege, of being able to fade out the real world for a while is becoming near impossible. An argument can be made for time and place — but Hollywood, and its writers, actors, agents, network executives, and everyone else, want to use their voices for political change.
On Wednesday (March 8), to celebrate International Women’s day, the industry is putting their money where their mouth is — and it’s the first time in a long time we’ve stopped and positively thought, “What a time to be alive!” And regardless of one’s opinion, whether it’s just a bunch of self-entitled Hollywood liberals, or silly actors, they’re taking action for what they believe, in a peaceful yet infectious movement.
Intentions matter less than your actions, every time. Intentions are on the inside of your head, actions are outside in the world. It’s as stark as the difference between falling asleep in front of the TV, and putting your foot through it.
Following the unprecedented success of The Women’s March after the 2016 inauguration — in which millions of women around the world gathered to champion equal rights, and peacefully fight for feminism — ladies are once again banding together to prove they’re not worn out, or down, quite yet.
This year, International Women’s Day is calling for “A Day without Women.” Ladies of the world are encouraged to wear red, and refrain from work, to demonstrate in concrete terms just how integral women are to America’s socioeconomic success.
But taking a day off in the middle of the work week is not the same as marching on a Saturday — not to mention a luxury, for a lot of the women who pay the steepest price for these iniquities — and as Elle reports, naysayers will focus on those lesser numbers. But we’d say even these point to an unacceptable status quo.
It’s hard to ignore that being able to protest is a privilege: The last feminist women’s strike back in 1970 started at 5 p.m., because most women couldn’t risk taking off from work. But as The Nation beautifully states, “Women across the country have already shown us: Striking is not a privilege. Privilege is not having to strike.”
In that formulation, the very success that creates the conditions for a strike are what make it essential. The TV industry is lucky enough to send a loud and clear message to women: Go speak your truth. Stand up for what you believe in. We support you and we appreciate you.
For 2017, the United Nations’ theme is “Women are Changing the World of Work: Plane 50/50 by 2030.” Their website explains, “Only 50 percent of working age women are in the labour force globally, compared to 76 percent of men.”
The official International Women’s Day website offers this year’s hashtag theme: #BeBoldForChange, and the world of entertainment is doing just that. MTV will be changing its logo on Wednesday to read “WTV ” — and since the network is mostly run by women, all social accounts and media platforms will be placed on a temporary hold, news pre-set to roll out in auto-mode.
Talking to The Hollywood Reporter, United Talent Agency CEO Jeremy Zimmer says,“We consider it vital for UTA to be a part of the global dialogue about gender equity and underscore its importance. Women play a critical role in the workforce and are essential members of the UTA family, and we fully support this event and encourage women across the agency to mark the day.”
UTA’s the same high-powered agency, by the way, that cancelled its fancy pre-Oscar party in favor of an “United Voices” rally, to voice opposition against Trump’s immigration ban.
Regardless of political party or spin, the statistics speak for themselves. According The Center of Study for Women in Television and Film, only five percent of TV ensemble casts have equal amount of parts for men and woman, 16 percent having more female characters than male.
“The percentage of female characters with speaking roles was highest on broadcast network programs (41%), followed by streaming programs (38%), and cable programs (33%). The percentage of major female characters appearing on broadcast network programs has declined since 2010–11. Females comprised 43% of major characters on broadcast network programs in 2010–11, 42% in 2014–15, and 41% in 2015–16.”
Behind the monitor, the numbers are much more grim, showing “zero meaningful progress” of improvement in the last decade. A sobering “98% of series had no women directors of photography, 91% had no women directors, 78% had no women editors, 76% had no women creators, 71% had no women writers, 26% had no women producers, and 26% had no women executive producers.”
If there’s a silver lining to the current state of the White House, it’s the way its sometime resident has pushed so many women into action. It’s hard to stand by the leader of your country, when he’s made his thoughts and feelings toward you, as a woman, so very clear — not just the disrespectful soundbites and allegations, but the attacks on Planned Parenthood, which is vital to women’s health across the country: Between cancer screenings and routine check-ups, Planned Parenthood is responsible for saving women’s lives, not taking them away.
Another issue at the heart of “A Day Without Women” is the pay gap. Actresses speaking out on this issue include Jennifer Lawrence, Carrie Mulligan, Sandra Bullock, Jessica Chastain, and Natalie Portman — the last of whom recently opened up to Marie Claire about getting paid way less — three times less — than co-star Ashton Kutcher in the 2011 “Not Strings Attached” film:
“I wasn’t as p*ssed as I should have been. I mean, we get paid a lot, so it’s hard to complain, but the disparity is crazy. Compared to men, in most professions, women make 80 cents to the dollar. In Hollywood, we are making 30 cents to the dollar.”
There’s less disparity between male and female actors working on TV, as opposed to film, but Forbes points out that’s because actresses like Sofia Vergara of “Modern Family,” and Julia Louis-Dreyfus of “Veep,” are raking in most of their dough from side endorsement deals or lucrative residual contracts from previous work.
In 2016, Emmy Rossum didn’t just battle for equal pay after seven seasons of work on Showtime’s hit series, “Shameless” — according to Variety, she wanted more than costar William H. Macy. Why? To make up for nearly a decade of being underpaid her worth.
Trailblazer Mindy Kaling — who currently executive produces, writes and stars on her Hulu series, “The Mindy Project” — boldly said at the 41st Gracie Awards in 2015:
“For years and years, the role of the lead actress on a sitcom was to do two things: Look amazing, and make one-third of what my male co-star makes. So I want to be clear, I do always look amazing on the show — and no man on my show makes more money than me.”
It shouldn’t be a revolution, to demand equal treatment with half of the entire population — but since it somehow still is… That just means there’s no time like the present to start one.