Hollywood, Film & Politics
Chapter 13: Hollywood and Women: Cracks in the Celluloid Ceiling
“Women have made up half of the human race but you could never tell that by the books historians write.” —Arthur Schlesinger Jr., historian “I spent my life searching for a man to look up to without lying down.” —Frances Marion, screenwriter and director “Women are the only oppressed group in our society that lives in intimate association with their oppressors.” —Evelyn Cunningham, journalist “It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union…women as well as men.” —Susan B. Anthony, feminist “You know, when I first went into the movies Lionel Barrymore played my grandfather. Later he played my father and finally he played my husband. If he had lived I’m sure I would have played his mother. That’s the way it is in Hollywood. The men get younger and the women get older.” —Lillian Gish, actress The literature on women1 in Hollywood movies is extensive and includes such notable scholars as Jeanine Basinger and Molly Haskell.2 The objective in this chapter is to briefly review Hollywood’s past history toward women, examine the present, and offer some sug- gestions that would advance their status in the film industry in the future. The chapter opens with a background description of Hollywood’s treatment of women, from the early days of the film industry to the present, and then it describes how their status has changed over time. Following that discussion, the author examines specific...
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