Throughout the course there has been a focus surrounding many different struggles within and outside of the US; one topic that has appeared on multiple occasions is the Women’s struggle (specifically in America). From a males perspective this struggle is somewhat difficult to comprehend because of the social norm of a patriarchal culture that is installed into every young boy and girl. The unfamiliarity with this notion of patriarchy dictates whether or not, most males, would notice the lack of equality Women receive in this society. In Debra Zimmerman’s Women Make Movies there is a specific look on Female filmmakers and the issues surrounding the male dominated movie world. A video from feministfrequency.com quickly summarizes some of the issues with male dominated movies stating, “I’m not saying stories centered on men are never good, interesting or important but I want to point out that they are disproportionally valued and most rewarded in our society” (http://www.feministfrequency.com/2011/02/womens-stories-movies-and-the-oscars/).
The first couple paragraphs of Zimmerman’s text introduces the founding of Women Make Movies and the mission of distribution of films and videos made exclusively by women. Zimmerman goes deeper into details around the difficulty of getting these works by female filmmakers out when she refers to the comments she heard when she was moderating a panel of lesbian filmmakers. Zimmerman states the audience wanted Desert Hearts, they wanted stories, the old formula with girls in it, they wanted sex and love. For anybody unfamiliar with the movie stated:
The plot of Desert Hearts is “its 1950s Nevada, and Professor Vivian Bell arrives to get a divorce. She’s unsatisfied with her marriage, and feels out of place at the ranch she stays on, she finds herself increasingly drawn to Cay Rivers, an open and self-assured lesbian, and the ranchowner’s daughter. The emotions released by their developing intimacy, and Vivian’s insecurities about her feelings towards Cay, are played out against a backdrop of rocky landscapes and country and western songs” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089015/plotsummary?ref_=tt_ov_pl). Is there anything wrong with the audience wanting a story that involves girls, sex, and love? Not necessarily, however the fact that the audience wants the “old formula with girls in it” is a factor in the lack of support for female filmmakers in general, not just lesbian filmmakers. Zimmerman also goes on to say that the filmmakers wanted to do something different and the audience “just did not want to deal with that”. There is much more to women in movies than love and sex stories and the audience needs to snap from the stereotypical female character.
Female filmmakers like Trinh T. Minh-ha who’s trying to expand the language of cinema with a different vision aren’t getting their recognition because they’re not adhering to ‘traditional’ female roles and/or topics; however, the problem is not just the audience. Zimmerman also introduces the idea of ‘gatekeepers’, the men who green light scripts and decide what initially will make it to the theaters, not just the longevity of the film. Hollywood definitely is a factor in constantly perpetuating the same incomplete representation of women, the real problem according to Zimmerman is “not how do we get more women working in Hollywood, but how do we get films that represent women’s visions out” (Zimmerman 264). Although the article is based on female filmmakers it is not based around ‘feminist’ films, Ann Hui is a filmmaker from Hong Kong, responsible for the film Romance of the Book and Sword (1987), who Zimmerman says has never made a ‘feminist’ film but “whats most feminist is the thing that doesn’t stand up and shout feminism (Zimmerman 264-5). The goal of Women Make Movies is to bring to the mainstream the fact that films by and about women are important and in conclusion “it’s important to note that even women centric films can be sexist. For instance, in so called “chick flicks” depict women in stereotypical gender roles obsessed with shopping, love and finding “Mr. Right”. I want to see more films that depict women as full and complete human beings” (feministfrequency.com).
Imagery & Culture
Zimmerman, Debra. Women Make Movies.