Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Young & Beautiful vs. Old & Talented
Every morning driving to work, I would pass this billboard in Hollywood. Without the type across the images and reading Left to Right are: Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, And Diane Keaton.
The names are listed in that order across the top.
My training in advertising taught me to design using color, images, and composition to attract the viewer. And to attract the audience you are going for. Most people don't notice the specific color choices and images used when advertising a show or a candy bar.
But, this billboard is very clear:
The first image you see is Harrison Ford front and center. Handsome, familiar, box office superstar, safe, attracts the male viewer, and creates curiosity about the content of the film. To the left is the young, beautiful female, wearing a short skirt and showing some thigh, with a naive expression with big, beautiful eyes and eyelashes, that will beckon the young male viewer (maybe a good date film). She leans in towards Harrison Ford, his expression showing there is a connection between the two (older man, younger woman). Over on the right, slightly turned away from the other two, is the older, intelligent and stubborn (as displayed with her arms crossed) female. She has a big smile to remind us that she can be fun too.
As always in entertainment, females and age cannot compete with a man of any age. Harrison Ford needs two females surrounding him in order for the movie executives to feel comfortable knowing their demographic is being reached. Even though women will most probably be the main audience for this film, they are second and third fiddle to the male.
I try to stay positive as I age gracefully in the entertainment industry. Sometimes fooling myself by thinking, "Well, I'm not an actress, so I don't have to be young and beautiful." I dress like the people around me at work to make sure I fit in. In animation, that means wearing jeans every day. I try not to look too feminine by wearing dresses or skirts (the guys I work with would not recognize me). When we banter at the water cooler, I joke around with the guys and get used to their sense of humor (it is different at every studio, and usually pretty vulgar). There are very few women in an animation studio, and the women who work there have to follow the men's cues.
Usually, the females are in production with a smattering of female artists sprinkled in the cubicles. Most directors, assistant directors, and story artists are male. I have worked with many female producers, some of whom I respect, and some I do not. The female co workers I do not respect are the women who put other women down, gossip about each other, and are harder on women than the men in the work place. Sometimes these women, usually in a position of power, use other women in the work place as scapegoats for mistakes they have made. So they look good to their male superiors.
I have recently experienced some of this displaced sexism. Not by male colleagues, but by females trying desperately to act male. It reminds me of the billboard above. My place is the 3rd position, on the right. I am the older female on the crew. Experienced and I refuse to be treated badly. I am underpaid and I keep up with the younger females and single males, and do beautiful work.
I am a Mom.
With 5 kids.
And that is where I become a statistic. Underpaid, not respected, and the first to go on a crew with mostly men who work weekends. The younger women, even cranky ones, do not get layed off very often.
I refuse to work overtime for free like the others. But, that is my downfall. Although I am talented, fast, and extremely reliable, I will not work for free. I have learned in this business that there is no loyalty and everyone is layed off at some point. All TV shows must come to an end.
Don't get me wrong, I love my male co workers. They are sweet and fun and always complimentary of my work. Unfortunately, I am, as they are, a statistic.
I hate statistics!
They mess with my denial and happiness.
I want to believe that none of this exists. I tire of whiners and negative people complaining about animation. Too many critics out there.
Although, I have no idea what comes next, I will try desperately to stay positive about my career in this industry. I love what I do. And I love the people I work with.
But, let's make this business family and human friendly!