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Derek Haas
05-24-2013, 09:10 PM
I've had to read a lot of spec pilots over the last month. Of the female writers I read, my estimate is that a third of the scripts (out of probably 40) -- and I'm not exaggerating -- had a variation of this same opening...

A beautiful woman wakes up in bed and hits her alarm clock -- it reads 5 AM or 6 AM. She gets out of bed, puts on her jogging shoes, puts in her ear buds... and is off for a run while her boyfriend/husband/significant other lays in bed.

She's inevitably described as "smart as she is pretty" or "former tomboy, now beautiful" or whatever variation of that.

She returns home and showers, dresses... just as her boyfriend/husband gets up groggily... they have some conversation about "hey sleepyhead" or "glad to see you're up" or what-not.

Then the woman leaves for her job as doctor/detective/fashion designer/chef -- where she talks tough or is at the top of her game...


A third of the scripts started this way... at least 10, maybe 12... these are repped writers.

I'm telling you right now... don't start this way. It's so refreshing to see a woman writer who doesn't have a woman as the main character, I can't even tell you.

Anyway, that's an observation.

JeffLowell
05-24-2013, 09:35 PM
So you're saying that one of the main reasons women writers are at a disadvantage is their lack of originality. Can you think of any other reasons off the top of your head?

JJBones
05-24-2013, 09:50 PM
Serious question for both Derek and Jeff (when you've read for TV staffing)...

Do you pay attention to the name on the cover before you open to page one? I mean to mentally note whether it's a man or woman? How aware are you of gender as you begin the read?

Or do you just clock the title of the spec or whether it's an original and start reading... Only to flip back to that front page to double check the writer's name when something particular (Good or bad) motivates you to do so.

odocoileus
05-24-2013, 10:36 PM
So you're saying that one of the main reasons women writers are at a disadvantage is their lack of originality. Can you think of any other reasons off the top of your head?

Originality is just another tool of the patriarchal hegemony. :jester:

cmmora
05-24-2013, 10:46 PM
I'm telling you right now... don't start this way. It's so refreshing to see a woman writer who doesn't have a woman as the main character, I can't even tell you.

Anyway, that's an observation.

Serious question: does the above "refreshing" suggestion extend to male writers, who write about male main characters? Should we only spec with female main characters?

LauriD
05-25-2013, 02:01 AM
My pilot starts with a guy using a combat elevator to take out a bunch of bandits holed up in caves carved into the face of a sheer cliff.

Is that better?

JeffLowell
05-25-2013, 08:56 AM
Do you pay attention to the name on the cover before you open to page one? I mean to mentally note whether it's a man or woman? How aware are you of gender as you begin the read?

I don't pay attention.

Honestly, there are so few good writers, even when you're picking from people with credits, that you're just thrilled to find anyone with talent.

novajane
05-25-2013, 09:06 AM
I agree those setups must be annoying to read as they are equally annoying to watch when they are made. But, to be fair, you must notice a pattern of stereotypes among screenplays written by guys too.

emily blake
05-25-2013, 09:14 AM
I definitely agree about originality. That opening would be annoying no matter what, and it's appalling that you see this from so many repped writers.

But to say that women should be writing about men in order to be original - it hurts me to hear that from you. There are only two sexes on this planet, and one of them already gets so much of the attention in story form. Isn't there room for both of us?

Does this rule of originality only apply to us? Not to the men as well?

Richmond Weems
05-25-2013, 09:20 AM
It's so refreshing to see a woman writer who doesn't have a woman as the main character, I can't even tell you.

Anyway, that's an observation.

Yeah, I'd agree with Emily on this one. Would you say that it's so refreshing to see a male writer who doesn't have a male as the main character?

LauriD
05-25-2013, 09:27 AM
It's so refreshing to see a woman writer who doesn't have a woman as the main character, I can't even tell you.

.

So what % of women have a woman as the main character versus what % of men have men as the main character?

Hamboogul
05-25-2013, 09:44 AM
I am not familiar with the entire firefighting industry but my guess is that it's predominantly men. So asking for % of men writing about men kinda seems moot (and agenda-driven)

nativeson
05-25-2013, 09:57 AM
So what % of women have a woman as the main character versus what % of men have men as the main character?

Not sure that semantics are the answer. Perhaps just writing a strong female protagonist within a setting as it usually exist (i.e., such as Hams observation) without excess spin, beating us over the head so that we 'know' the female lead is the female lead. Perhaps some of these writers submitting to Derek feel pressured to write so overtly with an agenda? I wouldn't be surprised.

LauriD
05-25-2013, 10:05 AM
I am not familiar with the entire firefighting industry but my guess is that it's predominantly men. So asking for % of men writing about men kinda seems moot (and agenda-driven)

Are the scripts at issue only about firefighting?

It didn't sound like the women were writing about fire fighting at all....

LauriD
05-25-2013, 10:07 AM
Not sure that semantics are the answer. Perhaps just writing a strong female protagonist within a setting as it usually exist (i.e., such as Hams observation) without excess spin, beating us over the head so that we 'know' the female lead is the female lead. Perhaps some of these writers submitting to Derek feel pressured to write so overtly with an agenda? I wouldn't be surprised.

Huh? Semantics? I'm just asking a question: how many women write female leads versus how many men write male leads? Are the %s the same, or do a lot more men/women write leads of the same gender as the writer?

JJBones
05-25-2013, 10:40 AM
What would be awesome -- if possible... would be if either Jeff or Derek could post just a 3-5 page opening of a spec pilot that they've read, that did get their attention.

You know, something we're likely to never see because it was used for staffing and served its purpose. (with permission from the writer of course) and posted just anonymously, so nobody would know who or what...

A blind sample of THIS IS HOW YOU OPEN A SPEC PILOT... when you're trying to get noticed for staffing.

I feel like we get a lot of good discussion and samples on craft with features around here, but not always enough re: TV.

Again - if possible.

Derek Haas
05-25-2013, 11:29 AM
I read the names of the writers on the cover page and then dig in. I'll look up the credits too because if he or she worked on a show where I know someone who worked there... I can ask how he or she was in the room. There are two parts to this job... writing and coming up with ideas in the room.

I didn't say it was a requirement for a female writer to write a male protagonist... I just said it was refreshing. The writer we hired to fill an open spot on Chicago Fire was a female who wrote a spec pilot with a female lead, so obviously there isn't a litmus test.

No one was writing spec pilots specifically to get a job on Chicago Fire. These are just writing samples that could be used for any network drama.

I was just dying at how many female writers opened their scripts the exact same way. This was not scientific... I have not noticed a pattern of similar openings written by men.

Derek Haas
05-25-2013, 11:33 AM
So you're saying that one of the main reasons women writers are at a disadvantage is their lack of originality. Can you think of any other reasons off the top of your head?

It's hard to get words out when you're putting new ones in my mouth.

JeffLowell
05-25-2013, 12:29 PM
Those aren't my words in your mouth. That's your foot.

Derek Haas
05-25-2013, 02:44 PM
Hahahah. I'm comfortable with my original post.

mswriterj
05-25-2013, 03:08 PM
The only time I would ever start a script with a woman waking up and going to work is if she had to feed the prisoner shackled in her basement or dress her taxidermied kids before leaving. That's just how I roll.

lostfootage
05-25-2013, 03:10 PM
I was just dying at how many female writers opened their scripts the exact same way. This was not scientific... I have not noticed a pattern of similar openings written by men.

John August at some point on the podcast noted that he's read a lot of cop scripts that open with the main character waking up, hung over, a pan around his disheveled apartment, etc. He was like - don't do that!

That's crazy that so many chick pilots start that way. I would never open with an early rise and jogging. It sound boring.

odocoileus
05-25-2013, 04:31 PM
A beautiful woman wakes up in bed and hits her alarm clock -- it reads 5 AM or 6 AM. She gets out of bed, puts on her jogging shoes, puts in her ear buds... and is off for a run while her boyfriend/husband/significant other lays in bed.

She's inevitably described as "smart as she is pretty" or "former tomboy, now beautiful" or whatever variation of that.

She returns home and showers, dresses... just as her boyfriend/husband gets up groggily... they have some conversation about "hey sleepyhead" or "glad to see you're up" or what-not.

Then the woman leaves for her job as doctor/detective/fashion designer/chef -- where she talks tough or is at the top of her game...

Which is more or less the theme of half the commercials on TV, no? So the writers in question are picking up on the zeitgeist.

sc111
05-25-2013, 04:44 PM
I definitely agree about originality. That opening would be annoying no matter what, and it's appalling that you see this from so many repped writers.

But to say that women should be writing about men in order to be original - it hurts me to hear that from you. There are only two sexes on this planet, and one of them already gets so much of the attention in story form. Isn't there room for both of us?

Does this rule of originality only apply to us? Not to the men as well?


Well said, Emily.

On one hand, I'm delighted to hear 40 women writers had an opportunity to have their scripts read by Derek Haas. The fact that one third were so unoriginal is sad but can't we look at it optimistically: two-thirds of the women writers didn't make that mistake and one woman actually got the gig. Can we assume she was hired because her work was better than those of the guys who were up for it? Please say yes. :)

canela
05-25-2013, 05:54 PM
This reminds me. I have a small note for showrunners:

Please be on the lookout for good writers, male and female, who can write stories that feature women who aren't always dead on the ground, naked. Now whether they are dead because they slept through their alarm, or because they didn't run fast enough -- doesn't matter. It's not refreshing at all.

Derek Haas
05-25-2013, 06:00 PM
Trust me, as Jeff said, 90 percent of the scripts were what I would consider sub-par. Originality, ability to write dialogue, ability to create an interesting character. Men and women. I just found it interesting that a third of the scripts by women started in almost the exact same way.

Just my observation that I thought I'd share with all of you.

Also... another interesting tidbit... I would guess that (pure guess) forty percent of the scripts written by women had either someone talking about sex or someone having sex in the first five pages.

I would put the number at about 2 percent of men's scripts.

Take what you want out of this information.

My main point is: be original. That goes for the men too.

Derek Haas
05-25-2013, 06:05 PM
Well said, Emily.

On one hand, I'm delighted to hear 40 women writers had an opportunity to have their scripts read by Derek Haas. The fact that one third were so unoriginal is sad but can't we look at it optimistically: two-thirds of the women writers didn't make that mistake and one woman actually got the gig. Can we assume she was hired because her work was better than those of the guys who were up for it? Please say yes. :)

You mistake me. More than one-third were unoriginal. Most were unoriginal. One third were sooo unoriginal that they started the EXACT SAME WAY.

My main point of posting this was to tell women writers in television that this opening has become a clam and to watch for it. Or keep doing what you're doing.

TBEagle
05-25-2013, 06:32 PM
I definitely agree about originality. That opening would be annoying no matter what, and it's appalling that you see this from so many repped writers.

But to say that women should be writing about men in order to be original - it hurts me to hear that from you. There are only two sexes on this planet, and one of them already gets so much of the attention in story form. Isn't there room for both of us?

Does this rule of originality only apply to us? Not to the men as well?
From my view point it seems that they're so few woman screenwriters compared to men there is a far more noticable trend among them because of the group size. And nobody is going to get anywhere if everybody is writing the same thing. Woman or not.

Alfred Parker
05-25-2013, 07:08 PM
Question for Derek and/or Jeff.

If I'm reading Derek properly, he was saying that most (all?) of these scripts were spec pilots? Is that what you guys are seeing as the preference nowdays for aspiring staffers? Original pilot specs instead of specs of existing shows?

And secondly (if you don't mind) Do you typically decide to meet and consider hiring off one strong sample? Or do you ask for a second sample of the writers who are in contention?

Thanks for your time and answers. Good stuff here.

WaitForIt
05-25-2013, 07:13 PM
This is so fascinating. So what you're saying is that women seem to feel compelled to show right away that their female protags are physically fit, successful, and in stable relationships in which they are either on equal footing or might even have the upper hand.

I could chew on that for weeks. And I'm a girl.

lostfootage
05-26-2013, 12:47 AM
This was one of the most useful and interesting threads I've read in a long time. Thanks for posting it.

sc111
05-26-2013, 07:02 AM
You mistake me. More than one-third were unoriginal. Most were unoriginal. One third were sooo unoriginal that they started the EXACT SAME WAY.

My main point of posting this was to tell women writers in television that this opening has become a clam and to watch for it. Or keep doing what you're doing.


Thanks for your response. Your posts, and responses to other posts on this topic, make a lot of compelling points.

For me, one big eye-opener -- these unoriginal writers have reps who sent out these specs and, essentially, wasted your time. I mean this sincerely -- sending you sub-par work is bad for everyone involved, especially the writers. And I wonder why this happened.

To clarify my previous post -- I think it's great for you to give a heads up about avoiding a worn out character intro. It's an important note. For me, and I think Emily said it well, the added suggestion for women to write male characters over female was surprising.

However, thinking about it further, I'm wondering if there's another layer to this. Perhaps the suggestion to write male characters is very good advice but for a less obvious reason -- because it gives the writer a wider scope to work with in terms of originality.

For example, as someone noted above, there's the old trope scene with the jaded cop waking in a messy bedroom with booze bottles on the nightstand, etc. etc. If you wrote this same scene with a woman in that cop role, not only would it be unoriginal, but you'd have the added issue of the woman being judged more harshly for living like this.

I don't know if other women writers here have had the same experience but, even in my extremely limited experience in getting rep and producer notes (some from women), I was told more than once I had to make my female leads more likable. And, frankly, some of the suggestions on how to do this were really unoriginal.

I found it frustrating. But after many debates back and forth with the manager about the objections against my female leads as written, I then realized what they really meant by "make her more likable" was closer to "make her above reproach."

When you write a male charcater you have more leeway in terms of the tolerance level of his not-so-sunny behavior. With a female character the tolerance level is lower.

Examples -- a drunk guy can be funny, a drunk woman is more often than not pathetic. A guy on screen who says sarcastic things to a kid right out of the gate is redeemable. A woman who snarks at a kid is much harder to redeem.

The other day, As Good As It Gets, was on TV and I watched it yet again. I love this film. Love the writing and the top notch acting. However, try to imagine the lead genders switched. Try to imagine Melvin as a woman with all those psych issues, who tosses a tiny dog down the garbage chute in the opening. It wouldn't work would it?

I blame it on the sugar-and-spice and-everything nice phenom that's so deeply ingrained in our society (in both men and women).

Maybe -- as female writers who want to get their foot in the door -- we should consider that writing male characters offers more options.

novajane
05-26-2013, 07:30 AM
I was thinking about this issue too and the only woman I could think of who was an overweight, low-achieving slob who got her man was Bridget Jones. At least she was sexy; although I don’t remember which page she jumped into bed.

It is a good issue to bring up because it’s an annoying trend in books and in movies when the female lead seems to be nothing more than a checklist of desirable characteristics. That said, I wonder how the audience would respond if the writers followed step 1 and step 2 in Derek’s description and then had her get into her McDonald’s uniform.

sc111
05-26-2013, 07:39 AM
I was thinking about this issue too and the only woman I could think of who was an overweight, low-achieving slob who got her man was Bridget Jones. At least she was sexy; although I don’t remember which page she jumped into bed.

It is a good issue to bring up because it’s an annoying trend in books and in movies when the female lead seems to be nothing more than a checklist of desirable characteristics. That said, I wonder how the audience would respond if the writers followed step 1 and step 2 in Derek’s description and then had her get into her McDonald’s uniform.

re: BF -- exactly! A while back on this board I applauded the series "Saving Grace" for breaking from this trend. Grace boozed and slept around and she was still an empathetic character. However, I got some pushback from someone who despised the character for her boozing and promiscuity and their reaction was really visceral.

Deion22
05-26-2013, 07:57 AM
I think NANCY, CELIA, and HEYLIA on weeds subverted all the tired tropes of women and how they are portrayed on TV/Film. I think that's what made WEEDS such a standout show for years, until it fell off and went off the rails. We were seeing women act against type; as drug dealers, promiscuous, violent, rude, and unpredictable.

I've read the pilot of WEEDS. If you go back and watch it, you can see why it got bought and was a hit. It presented a world through the eyes of characters that acted unexpectedly in their environment. I.E. The suburbs of the rich.

asjah8
05-26-2013, 09:45 AM
Interesting. I read the first post and the thing that leaps out to me is visual diary/wish fulfillment through characterization. Perhaps these women writers are inserting themselves into their lead character too much...? Ex, I wake up in the morning, I'm happy and physically fit, I'm beautiful and appealing, I have a sexy man waiting in bed; and, I'm a strong charismatic woman who can go off and save the world as a superhero, cop, detective, etc. I posit that this may be why a certain percentage of scripts appear to follow this pattern.

I'm a woman, btw.

Derek Haas
05-26-2013, 09:54 AM
Question for Derek and/or Jeff.

If I'm reading Derek properly, he was saying that most (all?) of these scripts were spec pilots? Is that what you guys are seeing as the preference nowdays for aspiring staffers? Original pilot specs instead of specs of existing shows?

And secondly (if you don't mind) Do you typically decide to meet and consider hiring off one strong sample? Or do you ask for a second sample of the writers who are in contention?

Thanks for your time and answers. Good stuff here.

I'd rather read a spec pilot so I can see if you can write original material well. If you're coming off a show, and you give me a sample of that show, I don't know how much of that episode was your idea, or even your writing.

Yeah, I'll meet and consider off of a strong sample. Even off twenty pages of a strong sample. But the meeting is equally important.

Derek Haas
05-26-2013, 10:02 AM
As someone who for the first time in my career was in the position of hiring writers... here's what I/we looked for:

A script that opened with energy...

Dialogue that crackled...

Any kind of surprise... (Oh, I thought it was going to be about this, it was about that...)

Anything that showed range -- humor and then a shock... or action chops with real character development.


There is no rule for any of this... no paint-by-numbers that will make your script stand out. It's all gotta be on the page. And then, for TV, you have to have a personality that isn't like nails on a chalkboard.

docgonzo
05-26-2013, 10:22 AM
Another question for Derek, if you'd please...

Did you tend to read originals that fell within specific genres or were you more concerned with the criteria you laid out? Did you meet/hire writers who wrote something outside any genre guidelines because the script/writer kicked ass?

Thanks for taking the time to answer, man.

Anointed
05-26-2013, 10:38 AM
Maybe -- as female writers who want to get their foot in the door -- we should consider that writing male characters offers more options.

That's what I've been doing for the past two years. Ultimately, to break in its about standing out, not doing what's expected based on your name, gender or nationality.

Most people express themselves creatively doing or writing what they know and to not do that, makes one stand out. Dichotomies are startling. Like a white soul singer/rapper or black rocker/country singer.

Interestingly enough, although not a pilot, that opener reminds me a lot of Safe House's first pages -- a couple waking up, his descript as handsome, the girlfriend being equal parts beauty and brains, sex in the first five pages...

That type of opener is a trope and for some reason women have latched onto it more disproportionately than men. More often than not, a writer will tend to rely on tropes until he's found his own voice.

Derek Haas
05-26-2013, 01:00 PM
Another question for Derek, if you'd please...

Did you tend to read originals that fell within specific genres or were you more concerned with the criteria you laid out? Did you meet/hire writers who wrote something outside any genre guidelines because the script/writer kicked ass?

Thanks for taking the time to answer, man.

Anything but comedies.

Alfred Parker
05-26-2013, 02:06 PM
Great inside baseball, Derek.

Thanks so much for taking the time -- this is a great thread.

krafty
10-09-2013, 08:35 PM
Derek--
I know how fatiguing reading sub-standard work can get. And I understand how 10--12 scripts that start the same way have put a bee in your bonnet. And you are right: this is a "small note" you have written; because if that small group of writers that have fallen into cliche openings has compelled you to advise women writers to concentrate on writing MORE male characters, it's advice that is inconsequential at best, and small-minded (read:sexist) at worst. Women, write LOTS of female characters--just AVOID the cliche openings. There, Derek. Problem solved.

Willoughby
01-08-2014, 05:28 PM
This is so fascinating. So what you're saying is that women seem to feel compelled to show right away that their female protags are physically fit, successful, and in stable relationships in which they are either on equal footing or might even have the upper hand.

I could chew on that for weeks. And I'm a girl.

Was your take-away also that our competition is weak? Or 'how did they get repped?'

Guess I really do need to work on those skills that start with meeting people and/or leaving the apartment.

finalact4
01-08-2014, 07:21 PM
I've had to read a lot of spec pilots over the last month. Of the female writers I read, my estimate is that a third of the scripts (out of probably 40) -- and I'm not exaggerating -- had a variation of this same opening...

A beautiful woman wakes up in bed and hits her alarm clock -- it reads 5 AM or 6 AM. She gets out of bed, puts on her jogging shoes, puts in her ear buds... and is off for a run while her boyfriend/husband/significant other lays in bed.

She's inevitably described as "smart as she is pretty" or "former tomboy, now beautiful" or whatever variation of that.

She returns home and showers, dresses... just as her boyfriend/husband gets up groggily... they have some conversation about "hey sleepyhead" or "glad to see you're up" or what-not.

Then the woman leaves for her job as doctor/detective/fashion designer/chef -- where she talks tough or is at the top of her game...


A third of the scripts started this way... at least 10, maybe 12... these are repped writers.

I'm telling you right now... don't start this way. It's so refreshing to see a woman writer who doesn't have a woman as the main character, I can't even tell you.

Anyway, that's an observation.

The Blacklist TV Pilot introduced the female protagonist waking up late for her first day as an FBI Profiler right after the teaser... and written by Jon Bokenkamp.

Granted it was a kickass teaser, but men use this device, too.
FA4

ducky1288
01-08-2014, 08:38 PM
Funny reading this post again after having written two more pilots. My last pilot was a straight dark cable western (not because of this post I should say) but my reps flipped for it. I've been doing a lot of meetings off of it since November and more are coming in for the new year.

Hopefully it stands out if people keep doing the same ole same ole.

I interned at a prodco this summer to and I read so many variations of undercover cop, good cop bad cop, or something related. It opened my eyes for sure.

BKDodger
02-13-2014, 11:41 PM
I'm telling you right now... don't start this way. It's so refreshing to see a woman writer who doesn't have a woman as the main character, I can't even tell you.

Anyway, that's an observation.

I hear ya brah. I'm so over those male writers and their male protagonists. Don Draper, Tony Soprano, Al Swearengen. It's like seriously men, step outside of your guy comfort zone and refresh me. Would love to see a male showrunner write a pilot with an octogenarian transgendered lead. Who cares about what sells and gets you repped - time to stretch those chops boys!

Another observation - what's up with all those unoriginal male writers and their stereotypical pilots about some frumpy ass blue collar or retired athlete dude with sassy kids and a super hot wife? Or the brilliant doctor/lawyer/detective with a unique personality defect? Ooo Ooo also the eternal bad-ass male protagonist who probably should be dead by now yet somehow lives to see another day.

Glad sexism is over in Hollywood - nice to see woman now have the privilege of being as derivative as men!

nic.h
02-14-2014, 01:56 AM
I hear ya brah. I'm so over those male writers and their male protagonists. Don Draper, Tony Soprano, Al Swearengen. It's like seriously men, step outside of your guy comfort zone and refresh me. Would love to see a male showrunner write a pilot with an octogenarian transgendered lead. Who cares about what sells and gets you repped - time to stretch those chops boys!

Another observation - what's up with all those unoriginal male writers and their stereotypical pilots about some frumpy ass blue collar or retired athlete dude with sassy kids and a super hot wife? Or the brilliant doctor/lawyer/detective with a unique personality defect? Ooo Ooo also the eternal bad-ass male protagonist who probably should be dead by now yet somehow lives to see another day.

Glad sexism is over in Hollywood - nice to see woman now have the privilege of being as derivative as men!

Yes.

Eric Boellner
02-23-2014, 10:41 AM
Thanks for your response. Your posts, and responses to other posts on this topic, make a lot of compelling points.

For me, one big eye-opener -- these unoriginal writers have reps who sent out these specs and, essentially, wasted your time. I mean this sincerely -- sending you sub-par work is bad for everyone involved, especially the writers. And I wonder why this happened.

To clarify my previous post -- I think it's great for you to give a heads up about avoiding a worn out character intro. It's an important note. For me, and I think Emily said it well, the added suggestion for women to write male characters over female was surprising.

However, thinking about it further, I'm wondering if there's another layer to this. Perhaps the suggestion to write male characters is very good advice but for a less obvious reason -- because it gives the writer a wider scope to work with in terms of originality.

For example, as someone noted above, there's the old trope scene with the jaded cop waking in a messy bedroom with booze bottles on the nightstand, etc. etc. If you wrote this same scene with a woman in that cop role, not only would it be unoriginal, but you'd have the added issue of the woman being judged more harshly for living like this.

I don't know if other women writers here have had the same experience but, even in my extremely limited experience in getting rep and producer notes (some from women), I was told more than once I had to make my female leads more likable. And, frankly, some of the suggestions on how to do this were really unoriginal.

I found it frustrating. But after many debates back and forth with the manager about the objections against my female leads as written, I then realized what they really meant by "make her more likable" was closer to "make her above reproach."

When you write a male charcater you have more leeway in terms of the tolerance level of his not-so-sunny behavior. With a female character the tolerance level is lower.

Examples -- a drunk guy can be funny, a drunk woman is more often than not pathetic. A guy on screen who says sarcastic things to a kid right out of the gate is redeemable. A woman who snarks at a kid is much harder to redeem.

The other day, As Good As It Gets, was on TV and I watched it yet again. I love this film. Love the writing and the top notch acting. However, try to imagine the lead genders switched. Try to imagine Melvin as a woman with all those psych issues, who tosses a tiny dog down the garbage chute in the opening. It wouldn't work would it?

I blame it on the sugar-and-spice and-everything nice phenom that's so deeply ingrained in our society (in both men and women).

Maybe -- as female writers who want to get their foot in the door -- we should consider that writing male characters offers more options.

I know this topic's old as hell, but I just thought I'd pop in to say that this post was spot on. The sad part is that this is how it is in real life, as well, not just movies/TV. If a guy's an alcoholic, he's kind of a badass. If he takes a different woman home from the bar every weekend, he's a champion of masculinity. If a woman's an alcoholic, she's probably a slob and has daddy issues, and/or life wasn't as perfect as she was told it'd be, so now she's moping about it. If a woman gets with a different guy every weekend (or hell, every year), she's a slut.

I think male writers do the same exact thing - with the wish-fulfillment bulls--t - but maybe our fantasy is just to be alcoholic badasses and/or Don Draper.

I know this example is from film and not TV, but I think Kelly Marcel's work on Saving Mr Banks is a great example of a woman who's unlikable, prickly, doesn't have everything together, and yet shines as one of the strongest female leads in the last decade. Granted, it's based on a real person, but maybe that's a hint for writers whose weakness lies in writing cliche alcoholic men, or cliche pant-suit women.

carcar
02-23-2014, 02:33 PM
Just something that made me laugh:

http://www.cracked.com/blog/the-6-male-characters-women-never-get-to-see-in-movies/

ComicBent
02-23-2014, 05:11 PM
I don't think I read any of this thread when it first appeared.

I have to say that I loved this:
Odo: Originality is just another tool of the patriarchal hegemony. :jester:Odo, you're so cool! :devil:

mge457
02-25-2014, 04:52 PM
A beautiful woman wakes up in bed and hits her alarm clock -- it reads 5 AM or 6 AM. She gets out of bed, puts on her jogging shoes, puts in her ear buds... and is off for a run while her boyfriend/husband/significant other lays in bed.

My favorite pilot last year actually started this way -- FX's TYRANT by Gideon Raff. The other points are well taken however.

scripto80
03-01-2014, 12:47 PM
It's so refreshing to see a woman writer who doesn't have a woman as the main character, I can't even tell you.

You want to talk thinking outside the box, then how about saying something no one would ever have the balls to say? Ex: "It's so refreshing to see a male writer who doesn't have a male as the main character, I can't even tell you."

I'm all for originality ACROSS THE BOARD, but you do see the hypocrisy here, right?

So that being said, I completely understand the need to "mix it up" and not be cliche, however I feel like female writers are often held to a higher standard than male writers in Hollywood. A huge portion of male-written and lead productions, particularly in the action/thriller genres, often feature the exact same story and structure as everything that came before it, yet no one bats an eye. They just keep churning out the same thing again and again, but just with different window dressings. Women however are expected to write something so mind-blowingly original that cannot at all be similar to anything else ever, or else it's disregarded as "been there, done that".

JeffLowell
03-01-2014, 01:14 PM
A showrunner with two shows, a man who's hired probably 20 writers in the last two years, shows up and shares his experiences: here's a trap that writers seem to be falling into that is going to make it harder to get noticed, here's an idea about how to stand apart… And he offers it with the specific goal of helping women get hired.

And he gets torn apart for being a sexist.

Perfect.

JeffLowell
03-01-2014, 01:28 PM
And one other thought...

You want to talk thinking outside the box, then how about saying something no one would ever have the balls to say? Ex: "It's so refreshing to see a male writer who doesn't have a male as the main character, I can't even tell you."

Is it that unusual to see a man creating lead female characters? The guy I'm working for currently created/produced Cybill, Grace Under Fire, Mom, Dharma & Greg, Mike & Molly…

There's certainly been a ton of great shows by women with female lead characters, but not as many tv shows by women with male lead characters. Again, Derek says "here's an idea that might get you noticed," and gets shouted down.

nic.h
03-01-2014, 02:38 PM
And one other thought...



Is it that unusual to see a man creating lead female characters? The guy I'm working for currently created/produced Cybill, Grace Under Fire, Mom, Dharma & Greg, Mike & Molly…

There's certainly been a ton of great shows by women with female lead characters, but not as many tv shows by women with male lead characters. Again, Derek says "here's an idea that might get you noticed," and gets shouted down.

No one is shouting, and Derek's advice is welcome and encouraged. Even though it's a bit depressing. When you see the same thing over and over about blokes and then the same thing a few times about women, but it's only a cliche for the latter, it's definitely a point worth discussing on a screenwriting discussion forum.

It's nothing that isn't already known, and the criticism is aimed not at Derek but at a culture that fairly consistently presents "normal/standard/acceptable" as white and male and anything else as "other". No surprises there - it's just rare that it's articulated so openly.

BTW, I don't think Derek is even remotely sexist as a person - his words merely reflect the default position of most of western society. And that's worthy of note.

nic.h
03-01-2014, 02:43 PM
There's certainly been a ton of great shows by women with female lead characters, but not as many tv shows by women with male lead characters.

I'm not trying to be argumentative, Jeff, but over and over we're told the writer doesn't matter - their gender or their demographic. That's all about the script. All about the story.

I get that this is a program specifically aimed at women writers, but is he really advocating that the best way to stand out in that group is by writing a script with a male protagonist? The most common, most standard, go-to protagonist in story telling all the way back through time?

I think I misread him if that's what he's saying.

JeffLowell
03-01-2014, 03:21 PM
No one is shouting, and Derek's advice is welcome and encouraged.

Oh, let's be fair. He took quite a few shots here, as well as being labeled with the words "sexist" and "hypocritical." And you "yes"d a post dripping in hostility and sarcasm, which is not exactly welcoming and encouraging.

I get that this is a program specifically aimed at women writers, but is he really advocating that the best way to stand out in that group is by writing a script with a male protagonist? The most common, most standard, go-to protagonist in story telling all the way back through time?

I think it's great advice. Bringing a female writing perspective to a traditionally male role is an interesting experiment at least, and might produce something wonderful at best.

I've made this point before, but I've had a lot of success writing movies with female leads. My three produced movies were two specs with female leads, and an adaptation with a female lead. I've sold plenty of other feature specs with female leads. I'm shooting a pilot in two weeks that's a romantic comedy where the POV character is a woman - her moving to New York is the catalyst for the series.

And I think I've had success partly because I tried Derek's approach in reverse - I often come up with a plot, and then try to stand it on its head by switching the gender of the protagonist.

Derek passed over a lot of writers for X reason, and shared it. If I were trying to break in, I think I would say "thank you!", not mock him.

YMMV.

scripto80
03-01-2014, 04:15 PM
And one other thought...



Is it that unusual to see a man creating lead female characters? The guy I'm working for currently created/produced Cybill, Grace Under Fire, Mom, Dharma & Greg, Mike & Molly…

There's certainly been a ton of great shows by women with female lead characters, but not as many tv shows by women with male lead characters. Again, Derek says "here's an idea that might get you noticed," and gets shouted down.

I actually strongly agree with Derek's points of mixing things up and not being at all stereotypical. THAT was good advice and I appreciate the fact that he came here to say it. But the rest just came off as a little offensive to female writers.

Anyway, as for the guy you're working for, great! Good for him. That's awesome. But there's always exceptions to the rule. It's like if I said "Women rarely get opportunities to write or direct action films." and then you come back with "Not true. Hello, Kathryn Bigelow and Jane Goldman." It's like oh yay, two. Out of thousands. Thanks...?

JeffLowell
03-01-2014, 04:24 PM
Anyway, as for the guy you're working for, great! Good for him. That's awesome. But there's always exceptions to the rule. It's like if I said "Women rarely get opportunities to write or direct action films." and then you come back with "Not true. Hello, Kathryn Bigelow and Jane Goldman." It's like oh yay, two. Out of thousands. Thanks...?

Mary Tyler Moore
Roseanne
Sex And The City
Just Shoot Me
That Girl
Maude
Laverne & Shirley
Alice
Julia
The Naked Truth
Ally McBeal

Etc etc etc.

There's no shortage of men creating female lead characters. It's not hypocrisy because no one is advising them to.

scripto80
03-01-2014, 05:03 PM
Noticing a lack of recent examples, but I hear you. There are men writing women in shows, indeed. The funny thing is I never disagreed with the idea that men are writing female characters (at least in television -- not so much in film). I simply disagreed with the suggestion that most women only write for women, and even mores, the idea that there's anything wrong with that for that matter, when in fact the bulk of current male writers do the exact same thing yet get no flack for it (until recently when their female counterparts and audiences and the media are finally asking WTF). That's all I was saying.

I simply want equality. I simply want male writers and female writers to be judged on the quality of their work and held to the same standards, as opposed to being judged by the fact that they are male writers or female writers.

sc111
03-01-2014, 06:03 PM
Back when this was first posted, I had no problem with Derek's main point. Which was clearly advice to avoid-like-the-plague the trite opening he described. Totally agree. It was his closing comment that had me raise an eyebrow ...

It's so refreshing to see a woman writer who doesn't have a woman as the main character, I can't even tell you.


... because it came out of left field and introduced a different bit of advice: women would do well to write male main characters.

On one hand, it's very practical advice for women writers because, as the press reports every few months, the industry prefers male leads because the market demands male leads. By comparison, TV is more open to female leads but, in general, it probably does a woman writer good to illustrate her ability to write male leads in her spec work.

Writing male leads would probably serve me better but here's why I prefer writing female leads: because I'd like to see more realistic, complex female characters out there.

Egads! Is sc111 saying men can't write realistic, complex women characters?!

No. I'm not. Men can write great women characters to a point. But they're not women. And by default this impacts how they write female characters.

I know this will probably P.O. many ... oh, well.

JeffLowell
03-01-2014, 06:04 PM
scripto:

In my experience, the hunger for great writers is not being sated. The problem isn't that there are too many talented writers and not enough jobs; the problem is that there aren't enough talented writers for the jobs that are out there.

If someone is stupid enough to pass over a writer because they're in X group, someone else will scoop them up and be thrilled that they were still available.

JeffLowell
03-01-2014, 06:07 PM
Men can write great women characters to a point. But they're not women. And by default this impacts how they write female characters.

If someone posted that exact sentence with the genders flopped, you'd have a heart attack.

Unless you're truly arguing that women can only write great male characters "to a point," because they're not men.

In which case, I'm afraid I'm going to have to be the feminist in this conversation and disagree with you.

Susanlbridges
03-01-2014, 07:03 PM
If someone posted that exact sentence with the genders flopped, you'd have a heart attack.

Unless you're truly arguing that women can only write great male characters "to a point," because they're not men.

In which case, I'm afraid I'm going to have to be the feminist in this conversation and disagree with you.

Yeah, I'm not buying that line either. Women and men can write women and men. We're all humans, and if you're the sort of person who thinks men behave in x way and women behave in y way, I'm going to bet that you don't pay all that much attention to how people actually live their lives.

My husband and I have written great men and great women, and we've also come up with crappier characters of both sexes, but none of our characters are stereotypical, I figure. So I'm good with that. We revise, we get better, we watch shows like Shameless and Orange is the New Black. We marvel at excellent character work and we try to emulate it - no matter what sex our characters happen to be.

Reagan
03-01-2014, 07:44 PM
First time here in a loooooong time, but I had to chime in.

I read in a book by a creative writing professor that fully 50% of 1st time writers start their story with a character waking up. Interestingly, he notes elsewhere in the book that many, many new writers also end their story with a character waking up (the "it was all a dream" story).

Some stories have good reasons to start with a character waking up (e.g. Dark City or Kafka's The Metamorphosis), but usually there's no reason other than "that's what I came up with". We all start our days when we wake up, so if we're writing a story and we have no idea where we want to go with the story or what we want to do, if we didn't do any heavy brainstorming or outlining, that is a very natural place for our minds to go.

Derek doesn't say it, but I bet almost all these screenplays are also boring and uneventful, the product of very little planning or forethought. In my humble opinion, changing the opening will do little more than keep the script from broadcasting its banality on the first page.

sc111
03-01-2014, 07:48 PM
If someone posted that exact sentence with the genders flopped, you'd have a heart attack.

Unless you're truly arguing that women can only write great male characters "to a point," because they're not men.

In which case, I'm afraid I'm going to have to be the feminist in this conversation and disagree with you.

DISCLAIMER: Let me be clear. I think women can write just as well in any GENRE as a man. We're talking about LEAD characters.

Surprise! I wouldn't have a heart attack. So I guess you can be the feminist, Jeff. I don't self-identify as a feminist because it's too restrictive. And sometimes it gets in the way of truth.

Example: Let's say a drama featured a young guy dealing with the unexpected death of his father. And all the psycho-dynamics, identity, self-worth stuff that goes with it. Could I, as a woman, write this character equally as well as you?

The feminist would likely say, "Of course! Women can do anything a man can do!"

Me, I'd say, honestly, "Not as easily, no."

I would not presume I knew how a guy would feel when losing his father and how he would express it through actions and dialogue. I'd have to do a lot of research. I'd probably have to talk with guys who lost their Dads and ask them how it impacted them. What went though their minds. What they struggled with. And even then I'd only get what they were willing to share with me. The truth of that experience for a male character may still elude me. This would be a man's story, written from the male POV, steeped with the complexities of the father-son relationship and -- though feminists would likely tar and feather me for saying it -- I think you, a male writer, could do a better job with this story and this male lead.

I'm just being honest.

Conversely, if the lead in this drama was switched to a female role, I know I could blow you away. :)

The problem I have with a majority of female lead characters as written by men is there's a lot of presuming going on. And we end up with stereotypes or characters that seem to be men in drag.

sc111
03-01-2014, 08:23 PM
We're all humans, and if you're the sort of person who thinks men behave in x way and women behave in y way, I'm going to bet that you don't pay all that much attention to how people actually live their lives.

Who said men behave X, and women behave Y?

In the context of LEAD characters, are you saying gender has absolutely no bearing on the lead's POV or choices or reactions or, even, dialogue? None at all -- all just people being people?

You're a male-female writing team. Have you ever said to your husband, "Hon, a woman wouldn't likely say this or do that in situation X, Y or Z." and vice versa? Never?

JeffLowell
03-01-2014, 08:38 PM
I think a great female writer can write a male character better than a mediocre male writer. And vice versa. Creativity and talent trumps experience, IMO.

Plus, there's an odd underlying belief to your thesis… The subtext of your argument is that a woman has more in common with any woman character than a man would. Just because you're a woman doesn't mean you have better insight into how every woman will react to a given situation - it only means that you have insight into how you would react.

Conversely, if the lead in this drama was switched to a female role, I know I could blow you away.

As you know, I'm always game for a challenge. Let someone else pick a scenario about a female character, and we'll both write a scene, and then post them anonymously.

Deion22
03-01-2014, 08:55 PM
The creator of Ray Donovan is a woman. And she is killing it. She writes some of the sharpest and hilarious dialogue for Jon Voight's Mickey.

Deion22
03-01-2014, 09:02 PM
I'll also add, Joseph Weisberg writes Kerri Russell's Elixzabeth character better then a lot of females might.

So, on one spectrum you have Ann Biderman killing it with Ray Donovan. And on the other end you have Joseph Weisberg killing it with the Americans. What does it tell you? Gender doesn't matter. Talent matters. Mixed with life experience.

I cringe when I read some white guys writing for ethnic characters. Cringe! But then there are white writers who have experience outside of their race, and environment who understand how to write characters of any ethnicity. It's called talent!

And also, us black people can write for white characters as well. Talent trumps everything. There's no gender bias in quality of writing.

JeffLowell
03-01-2014, 09:09 PM
^^^^^^^^

That.

Susanlbridges
03-01-2014, 09:13 PM
Who said men behave X, and women behave Y?

In the context of LEAD characters, are you saying gender has absolutely no bearing on the lead's POV or choices or reactions or, even, dialogue? None at all -- all just people being people?

You're a male-female writing team. Have you ever said to your husband, "Hon, a woman wouldn't likely say this or do that in situation X, Y or Z." and vice versa? Never?

NOPE.

Honestly. Never.

I would NEVER be so broad to say "women" wouldn't do something. Because one woman, somewhere, probably would.

Thinking all women are generally a certain way is sexist. Thinking all men are generally a certain way is equally sexist. And that kind of thinking creates flat, boring, garbage characterizations that uphold stereotypes and contribute to the problems already cited here.

As far as all of those similar pilots go, women create these superwoman characters to battle perceived and well-established societal stereotypes, instead of focusing on creating believable well-rounded women who have a mix of strong and weak traits - like they do in real life. They are writing defensively and it's bullshit. Create great characters, not defensive ones.

sc111
03-01-2014, 09:17 PM
I think a great female writer can write a male character better than a mediocre male writer. And vice versa. Creativity and talent trumps experience, IMO.

Ohhhh. Nice slight of hand, there, bubbalah. You say a great woman writer can write a male character better than a mediocre male writer.

I wonder why you didn't say a great female writer can write a male lead better than -- or for that matter, equally as well as -- a great male writer.

BTW: I continue to discuss this in the context of lead/main characters as per the comment in Derek's original post.

Plus, there's an odd underlying belief to your thesis… The subtext of your argument is that a woman has more in common with any woman character than a man would.

Correct.

Just because you're a woman doesn't mean you have better insight into how every woman will react to a given situation - it only means that you have insight into how you would react.

re BF'd line: Incorrect.

As you know, I'm always game for a challenge. Let someone else pick a scenario about a female character, and we'll both write a scene, and then post them anonymously.

Oh, bless your heart. Let's get right to the dick measuring ASAP. Why didn't I think of that? Oh - wait - I know why. Because I'm a woman.

sc111
03-01-2014, 09:26 PM
NOPE.

Honestly. Never.

I would NEVER be so broad to say "women" wouldn't do something. Because one woman, somewhere, probably would.

Thinking all women are generally a certain way is sexist. Thinking all men are generally a certain way is equally sexist. And that kind of thinking creates flat, boring, garbage characterizations that uphold stereotypes and contribute to the problems already cited here.



You're still misunderstanding me. I never said all women are generally a certain way.

I'll try asking again the question I posed to you earlier:

In the context of LEAD characters, are you saying gender has absolutely no bearing on the lead's POV or choices or reactions or, even, dialogue? None at all -- all just people being people?

sc111
03-01-2014, 09:37 PM
Talent trumps everything. There's no gender bias in quality of writing.

If this is true, then the reason working male screenwriters greatly outnumber working female screenwriters is because .... what? Men are inherently more talented than women?

castilleja32
03-01-2014, 09:38 PM
Some male writers may have agendas for their female characters--stereotyping, objectifying, or limiting them. That can be toxic and put women off. (Of course women can do this with male characters too, though it doesn't seem as prevalent.)

But whether you conjure up male or female characters in your imagination, with enough of a psychic charge so they come to life on the page, is a mysterious thing. You only control it so far. We all have both animus and anima energies in our psyches.

Women may need to write male characters and men may need to write women characters, and this happens so much now and throughout history that it doesn't exactly seem like a topic of hot debate.

It's just as stereotypical to expect women to write women-focused stories or characters just because they're women. I often gravitate toward writing male characters, and I'd be pissed off if someone tried to track me into writing more traditional female characters or domestic family dramas, it's just not what I do.

When Howard Hawks first started working with female screenwriter Leigh Brackett, he supposedly said "Get me this guy Brackett," because she wrote in a voice and genres associated with male writers. Brackett went on to write John Wayne movies and the Empire Strikes Back later in her career: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leigh_Brackett

And a recent study on Jane Austen convincingly demonstrated that her true alter ego was much more Mr. Darcy than Liza Bennet.

Susanlbridges
03-01-2014, 09:45 PM
You're still misunderstanding me. I never said all women are generally a certain way.

I'll try asking again the question I posed to you earlier:

In the context of LEAD characters, are you saying gender has absolutely no bearing on the lead's POV or choices or reactions or, even, dialogue? None at all -- all just people being people?

I believe you are confusing gender and upbringing. Upbringing of course influences a character's behavior. Gender alone doesn't. It is too broad of a characteristic to influence behavior, choices, or dialogue.

JeffLowell
03-01-2014, 09:46 PM
Oh, bless your heart. Let's get right to the dick measuring ASAP. Why didn't I think of that? Oh - wait - I know why. Because I'm a woman.

So… you tell me you know you can write female characters better than I can, when I've never said anything about our respective writing abilities, and I'm the one who's turned this into a dick measuring contest?

Okay? I thought this might be an interesting debate to take out of the theoretical and into the practical, but I guess that was… male of me?

As to your question of whether a great female writer can write a man better than a great male writer - I'm sure both takes would be entertaining. And since there's no objective truth about writing or personality, I'm not sure the results would be as clear cut as you think they'd be.

Reagan
03-01-2014, 09:51 PM
As you know, I'm always game for a challenge. Let someone else pick a scenario about a female character, and we'll both write a scene, and then post them anonymously.

I'll propose one: A woman is having lunch with her two best friends. She knows one of them has been having an affair with her husband, and is determined to figure out which one it is before lunch is over.

Susanlbridges
03-01-2014, 09:55 PM
I'll propose one: A woman is having lunch with her two best friends. She knows one of them has been having an affair with her husband, and is determined to figure out which one it is before lunch is over.

She jumps over the table and punches both of them in the face. Then she waits to see which one will tearfully turn to her and say "I'm sorry!!"

sc111
03-01-2014, 10:26 PM
So… you tell me you know you can write female characters better than I can,

Jesus, Jeff. Go read the post again. I never made such a blanket statement. Not even close.

I gave a specific example of a specific storyline with a male protag and came right out and said you would do a better job. Then I made the comment I would do a better job if the protag in that specific storyline was switched to female. It's right there.

Don't go all hyperbole on me to start an argument.



Okay? I thought this might be an interesting debate to take out of the theoretical and into the practical, but I guess that was… male of me?

I was making a joke. Seriously, Jeff, in all this time you and I have communicated on this site, have I ever deprived you of an opportunity to ridicule me? Of course I haven't. You want a throw down. Let's do a throw down. I'm in.


As to your question of whether a great female writer can write a man better than a great male writer - I'm sure both takes would be entertaining. And since there's no objective truth about writing or personality, I'm not sure the results would be as clear cut as you think they'd be.

I wasn't asking a question. I was being facetious. Because I thought it was facetious of you to suddenly throw "mediocre" into the mix of qualifiers.

Clearly it was lost in translation.

sc111
03-01-2014, 10:40 PM
I believe you are confusing gender and upbringing. Upbringing of course influences a character's behavior. Gender alone doesn't. It is too broad of a characteristic to influence behavior, choices, or dialogue.

Oh - jeeze. I'm being brought to task on things I did not say.

I never said gender alone influences character.

As to your point about "upbringing", if you think gender has nothing to do with upbringing, I think you and I had better stop here and jsut agree to disagree.

nic.h
03-01-2014, 11:16 PM
There's no gender bias in quality of writing.

Right. But it sounds like there's gender bias in the stories we "should" write, at least in the mind of the decision makers. We're told, over and over, that the gender of the writer doesn't matter. What matters is the quality of the script.

Derek's final comment suggests otherwise. That's what bothered me.

(And Jeff: I thought the comment I "yes'd" was more cheeky, more playful, than "dripping with sarcasm" - if it's the latter, then I apologise.)

nic.h
03-01-2014, 11:22 PM
Bringing a female writing perspective to a traditionally male role is an interesting experiment at least, and might produce something wonderful at best.


I'm not sure that's much of an experiment. Women have been doing this for generations, for centuries, in all forms of writing, though often under the guise of a male non de plume.

But I take your point, and I would never - ever - mock or diss Derek or his advice. He seems like a very cool bloke and I love his work. I don't doubt his view is a valid one. It's just (personally) disappointing.

But I'm a realist. I get it.

Anagram
03-02-2014, 01:05 AM
Derek never said that a person's gender influences how well he or she can write that gender.

He was pointing out a trend in scripts submitted to him, and praising writers who bucked it.

Richmond Weems
03-02-2014, 07:00 AM
SC111's posts are spot on. That's why when I'm writing about serial killers, I try to kill as many people as I can, and when I'm writing about a guy in love with his cat, I try to fvck as many cats as I can to make sure I get it right.

So when I wrote a horror short story with a black female hooker as my lead, I made sure to have a sex change operation and dyed my skin black so I could know exactly what it was like before I wrote about it.

I mean, what else can I do? Use my imagination and human experiences? Don't be silly.

Reagan
03-02-2014, 07:23 AM
With all due respect, I think writers do benefit from having first-hand experience with the subject they're writing about. A Vietnam-veteran writing a Vietnam war movie has an advantage over someone who has never been in the military. The advantage is there. It's just not as big as many people would imagine. If you don't have first-hand knowledge, you can certainly compensate for it through research, imagination, and talent.

When it comes to gender, if you want to write well you will at some point have to learn to write convincing opposite gender characters. It is so unlikely that you'll be able to make a career writing scripts with characters who are all your gender.

If you want to write about a serial killer, again first-hand experience might help, but with serial killers you really don't need the edge of first-hand knowledge because: a) none of your competitors (other writers) have first-hand knowledge; & b) almost none of your audience does either. These two things aren't true when it comes to gender, so it's not a completely fair comparison.

The other point I'd like to make is that writers can benefit from not having first-hand knowledge of an experience. Writers can benefit from objectivity. We've all seen this with comedians cracking jokes about races and gender they don't belong to. Alexis de Tocqueville wrote with great insight about America in part because he was not American.

emily blake
03-02-2014, 09:45 AM
I write action. I mostly prefer to write female protagonists for the simple reason that I don't see them very often, and when I do, they're not often well written. Female protagonists in action movie is a world that has not been well explored.

This is film, mind you, not television, so it's a little off-point.

When I first started putting scripts out there, I was told over and over - often by people on this very board - that I should write male protagonists because nobody was ever going to buy a script about female action hero.

When I began to get heat with my action comedy featuring a female lead, I was explicitly told to write a screenplay with a white, 30-something male protagonist because 1) it's easier to sell, which is sadly true and 2) to "prove I could."

I have written male protagonists when the story called for it, but I will continue to focus on writing women in my lead roles because that's the kind of story I want to tell. And if my work is not very original, I assure you the gender of my lead will not be the problem.

So let's all dismiss that last sentence about it being refreshing if women write men, because it's a bit silly, and instead focus on the rest of what Derek said - don't be derivative, be you male or female, gay or straight, black or white. Don't make Derek read the same scene over and over because you were too lazy to come up with something better.

madworld
03-02-2014, 09:56 AM
So let's all dismiss that last sentence about it being refreshing if women write men, because it's a bit silly, and instead focus on the rest of what Derek said - don't be derivative, be you male or female, gay or straight, black or white. Don't make Derek read the same scene over and over because you were too lazy to come up with something better.

This is the core of it, really. If Haas had read some openers that really popped, maybe introduced him to the female lead in a new and inspired way, this thread probably wouldn't exist.

Manchester
03-02-2014, 10:10 AM
I write action. I mostly prefer to write female protagonists for the simple reason that I don't see them very often, and when I do, they're not often well written.
Could you mention some examples? Especially ones in which the female character(s) was, in your view, well-written (versus fantastically-written) and not-so-well-written (versus terribly-written)?

emily blake
03-02-2014, 10:13 AM
Could you mention some examples? Especially ones in which the female character(s) was, in your view, well-written (versus fantastically-written) and not-so-well-written (versus terribly-written).

I had a list, and then I realized, I don't want to turn this thread into an argument about what female characters in what movies are well written vs which ones aren't, because that's not the point. I think we all know that female characters are often vapid.

The point is, don't be derivative.

Richmond Weems
03-02-2014, 10:29 AM
With all due respect, I think writers do benefit from having first-hand experience with the subject they're writing about. A Vietnam-veteran writing a Vietnam war movie has an advantage over someone who has never been in the military. The advantage is there. It's just not as big as many people would imagine. If you don't have first-hand knowledge, you can certainly compensate for it through research, imagination, and talent.

I agree wholeheartedly with this.

The problem is that even with first-hand experience, most people still can't write well, regardless of experience, gender, or ability to bait a hook.

If you want to write about a serial killer, again first-hand experience might help, but with serial killers you really don't need the edge of first-hand knowledge because: a) none of your competitors (other writers) have first-hand knowledge; & b) almost none of your audience does either. These two things aren't true when it comes to gender, so it's not a completely fair comparison.

Well, I wasn't being entirely serious when I said it, but gender, IMO, is the least important criteria for writing about a man or a woman. A good writer can write a good character, regardless of that character's or writer's gender.

SC111 made the point that she could write a better female lead character than Jeff Lowell because she's female, and I don't agree with that. Not because I think Lowell's a better writer than SC111 (I haven't read any of his work), but because it's a limitation that has no basis in fact.

Numerous examples have been pointed out and they've been dismissed with the implied contention that they're the exceptions. Well, isn't any good writing the exception?

Quite frankly, this is kind of a stupid discussion. I've read some of SC111's work and I think she's severely limiting herself if she needs to go through all that research to try to figure out what would happen if a son's father died just because it's from a male POV. She's a good writer, and putting self-imposed speed bumps in the creative process doesn't make sense to me.

The other point I'd like to make is that writers can benefit from not having first-hand knowledge of an experience. Writers can benefit from objectivity...Alexis de Tocqueville wrote with great insight about America in part because he was not American.

I also agree with this.

And that's because good writing trumps gender. There's just so little of it that focusing on gender's role in writing characters is a red herring.

Manchester
03-02-2014, 10:50 AM
I think we all know that female characters are often vapid.

Fair enough. But without examples, that doesn't move the chains. I was hoping to move the chains.

Susanlbridges
03-02-2014, 11:05 AM
I write action. I mostly prefer to write female protagonists for the simple reason that I don't see them very often, and when I do, they're not often well written. Female protagonists in action movie is a world that has not been well explored.
<snip>
I have written male protagonists when the story called for it, but I will continue to focus on writing women in my lead roles because that's the kind of story I want to tell. And if my work is not very original, I assure you the gender of my lead will not be the problem.

This is why we wrote an action script starring a Hispanic female.

It probably won't sell, but it's the story we wanted to tell.

sc111
03-02-2014, 11:33 AM
With all due respect, I think writers do benefit from having first-hand experience with the subject they're writing about. A Vietnam-veteran writing a Vietnam war movie has an advantage over someone who has never been in the military. The advantage is there. It's just not as big as many people would imagine.

Thanks. This is what I meant when I said, "to a point." And when I gave the example storyline, I conceded a male writer would be able to bring something deeper to a story about a male character dealing with his father's death. It doesn't make me a less talented writer to concede that point. However, with a female character dealing with her father's death, I'd give the advantage to a woman writer for the same exact reason. And it doesn't mean male writers are less talented.

Yet somehow this is a sexist, crazy notion. Crazy to acknowledge that a writer of one gender may have a bit more to bring to table when writing a character of their own gender.

Several times per year we read articles about the lack of fully realized female characters in film. There are studies done on the female roles that do make it to the screen and analysis shows too many are one-dimensional or heavily stereotyped. Since the preponderance of produced films are written by men, where are all the great female characters these men are able to write?

scripto80
03-02-2014, 11:44 AM
Some male writers may have agendas for their female characters--stereotyping, objectifying, or limiting them. That can be toxic and put women off.

This happens a lot. I don't have time right now, but I could pull up many quotes from numerous top actresses complaining of this exact issue in many of today's scripts -- at least in film. Television is far, far more kind to and receptive towards women, and allows for more complicated, interesting female characters than the film world.

Eric Boellner
03-02-2014, 12:53 PM
I think the biggest question I have about this thread is why anyone would use that opening in the first place...

Woman wakes up, out for a jog, comes home, "Hey, sleepy," showers, puts on a pantsuit...

--God, I fell asleep twice just writing that.

emily blake
03-02-2014, 01:21 PM
Fair enough. But without examples, that doesn't move the chains. I was hoping to move the chains.

Honestly, I don't know what this means. It might be an excellent topic for a new thread.

Richmond Weems
03-02-2014, 02:00 PM
Thanks. This is what I meant when I said, "to a point." And when I gave the example storyline, I conceded a male writer would be able to bring something deeper to a story about a male character dealing with his father's death. It doesn't make me a less talented writer to concede that point. However, with a female character dealing with her father's death, I'd give the advantage to a woman writer for the same exact reason. And it doesn't mean male writers are less talented.

I honestly don't understand this "advantage" you speak of. Good writing is good writing. This isn't a race. If you can make an audience believe in the character, that's all you need to do.

Yet somehow this is a sexist, crazy notion. Crazy to acknowledge that a writer of one gender may have a bit more to bring to table when writing a character of their own gender.

Yes. That's crazy. Creativity and imagination and "human" experience is all one needs to write whatever one wants to write about.

Several times per year we read articles about the lack of fully realized female characters in film. There are studies done on the female roles that do make it to the screen and analysis shows too many are one-dimensional or heavily stereotyped. Since the preponderance of produced films are written by men, where are all the great female characters these men are able to write?

GRAVITY doesn't count? AMERICAN HUSTLE? PHILOMENA?

Just about anything from Wilder and Diamond?

The list is long, S.

Richmond Weems
03-02-2014, 02:05 PM
If Lowell doesn't want to do it, I'll gladly take up the challenge of penning a short script/scene in competition with SC111.

A female dealing with her father's death/impending death.

Let's open it up to everyone, make it a writing exercise, and let others decide if gender brings more to the table than what I think it does.

Manchester
03-02-2014, 02:09 PM
I just clicked over here from reading an article at Time.com by a writer who thinks that Jared Leto's character in "Dallas Buyers Club" is vapid. "vapid (http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/vapid?q=vapid)", as in, "Offering nothing that is stimulating or challenging".

Specifically (http://ideas.time.com/2014/02/28/dont-applaud-jared-letos-transgender-mammy/), "There are no stereotypes about transgender women that Leto’s concoction does not tap. She’s an exaggerated, trivialized version of how men who pretend to be women — as opposed to those who feel at their core they are women — behave."

And, from my reading of the article, that is the writer's perception of the transgender community's view of that character. Yet, apparently many, many people not in that community believe that that character is the antithesis of "vapid". And from a commercial standpoint, one can well say that the latter is pretty much all that matters.

Above, was my request for examples a departure from where this thread started? OK, fine.

But when various people here have posted comments/complaints/despair about vapid/underdeveloped/badly-written female characters who have been crafted by men, I was hoping for examples.

There have been a few, such as -I'll also add, Joseph Weisberg writes Kerri Russell's Elixzabeth character better then a lot of females might.

But imagine if the writer of that article in Time had posted here about transgender characters: "They're not often well written." Full stop.

Many of us, at our keyboards, might nod in agreement. But I doubt any of us would have pictured Jared Leto's character in "Dallas Buyers Club" as an example of a "not well written" transgender character. And without that example, all we can do is nod (or shake our heads in disagreement); we don't have a basis to learn anything.

FWIW, that was my point, above, about "moving the chains (http://www.usingenglish.com/reference/idioms/move+the+chains.html)".

emily blake
03-02-2014, 02:45 PM
But when various people here have posted comments/complaints/despair about vapid/underdeveloped/badly-written female characters who have been crafted by men, I was hoping for examples....


I'm a little confused, because although you say "various people", you are clearly aiming your comments at me. I'm the one you directly asked for examples.

The bolded part is where I have to object, because I have never claimed that men could not create excellent female characters. Men have certainly done so. But I cannot imagine how ignorant you must be if you think poorly written female characters are not common.

What boggles my mind with your response is how you managed to read my entire post and skip right past the part where I have been told specifically to write white males and avoid women altogether, and have focused on a relatively minor point, one I'm pretty sure most people in this thread would agree about - that female characters in action movies are often poorly written. I was merely sharing my own personal experience as a woman in this business, because I thought it was relevant.

But if it pleases you:
Terminator 2 - great female character
Ultraviolet - not a great female character

Manchester
03-02-2014, 03:03 PM
Emily, maybe this will change things; maybe not.

My request to you for examples was not, "Hey, you're wrong! Put up or shut up! Give me some examples!" Not at all. Rather, I really was simply asking for examples.

Could you mention some examples? Especially ones in which the female character(s) was, in your view, well-written (versus fantastically-written) and not-so-well-written (versus terribly-written)?

And I asked you because of how you'd written your comment:I mostly prefer to write female protagonists for the simple reason that I don't see them very often, and when I do, they're not often well written.
You didn't write "horrendously" or even merely "badly". Instead, it was "not well". And I thought, here's someone who sees the situation as (no pun intended) shades of grey - which in this context is a good thing. (IMO, YMMV, etc.) In this context, I doubt I'd find it helpful/interesting to get examples from a "the world is ending" person or a "the world is kinda perfect, as is" person.

So, yeh. I did specifically ask you for examples. Even as "various people here have posted comments/complaints/despair about vapid/underdeveloped/badly-written female characters who have been crafted by men". Because of what you'd posted. But I also figured that, as often happens here, you ask one person a question, then others may offer answers as well.

HTHelps.

Manchester
03-02-2014, 03:13 PM
Terminator 2 - great female character
Ultraviolet - not a great female character
Thanks. Really.

sc111
03-02-2014, 03:45 PM
If Lowell doesn't want to do it, I'll gladly take up the challenge of penning a short script/scene in competition with SC111.

Let's be clear. I didn't challenge Lowell. He challenged me.


A female dealing with her father's death/impending death.

Let's open it up to everyone, make it a writing exercise, and let others decide if gender brings more to the table than what I think it does.

IMO the parameters should be more defined. Otherwise it's difficult to compare apples to apples. How about a short scene in which a young woman gives the eulogy at her father's funeral. The eulogies can then be compared.

Eric Boellner
03-02-2014, 04:55 PM
While we're at it, let's have one black guy and one white guy compete in a game of H-O-R-S-E to see which race is definitively better at basketball.

Aros
03-02-2014, 05:45 PM
With all due respect, I think writers do benefit from having first-hand experience with the subject they're writing about. A Vietnam-veteran writing a Vietnam war movie has an advantage over someone who has never been in the military. The advantage is there. It's just not as big as many people would imagine. If you don't have first-hand knowledge, you can certainly compensate for it through research, imagination, and talent.

When it comes to gender, if you want to write well you will at some point have to learn to write convincing opposite gender characters. It is so unlikely that you'll be able to make a career writing scripts with characters who are all your gender.

If you want to write about a serial killer, again first-hand experience might help, but with serial killers you really don't need the edge of first-hand knowledge because: a) none of your competitors (other writers) have first-hand knowledge; & b) almost none of your audience does either. These two things aren't true when it comes to gender, so it's not a completely fair comparison.

The other point I'd like to make is that writers can benefit from not having first-hand knowledge of an experience. Writers can benefit from objectivity. We've all seen this with comedians cracking jokes about races and gender they don't belong to. Alexis de Tocqueville wrote with great insight about America in part because he was not American.

I think you've definitely got to have some sort of experience with what you're writing about. But it doesn't have to be first hand experience. Sure, a creative Vet will be able to put together a good story about the Vietnam War. But so can a young'un who's father, grandfather, and uncles all served in Nam. Someone who was brought up on stories and details about Nam can also write a story about the war.

As far as the serial killer thing goes, binge other films in the serial killer genre, cop genre, and watch docs about real serial killers. That should be enough to help out without actually having to kill people:D

Same goes for men writing women. If a man has absolutely no clue about anything female oriented or knows no women at all then he's gonna have trouble writing about women. But as long as he knows some, spends time around them, and most importantly, pay attention then he can write well rounded female characters. Just don't begin her script intro with "She's PURRTY":p

Richmond Weems
03-02-2014, 06:10 PM
Conversely, if the lead in this drama was switched to a female role, I know I could blow you away. :)

Let's be clear. I didn't challenge Lowell. He challenged me.

Yeah, let's be clear.

IMO the parameters should be more defined. Otherwise it's difficult to compare apples to apples. How about a short scene in which a young woman gives the eulogy at her father's funeral. The eulogies can then be compared.

That's not a scene, that's a monologue.

Manchester
03-02-2014, 06:47 PM
While we're at it, let's have one black guy and one white guy compete in a game of H-O-R-S-E to see which race is definitively better at basketball.
But you already have a P-O-N-E-Y.

tinlizzie
03-02-2014, 07:40 PM
Do writers create better characters when writing within their gender rather than outside of it? My gut says that if you took a big enough sample, the answer is probably yes.

But … I also think that gender falls so far down the list of influences, way behind such things as talent, skill, empathy, temperament or life experiences, that its effect is basically moot - especially when it comes to any one individual.

Rantanplan
03-02-2014, 07:45 PM
When a strong independent woman is rejected by a man in a film, and someone tells her, He was probably intimidated by your success, who's more likely to have written that line, a man or a woman?

tinlizzie
03-02-2014, 09:34 PM
When a strong independent woman is rejected by a man in a film, and someone tells her, He was probably intimidated by your success, who's more likely to have written that line, a man or a woman?
A very cliched writer.

James B
03-03-2014, 05:47 AM
The creator of Ray Donovan is a woman. And she is killing it. She writes some of the sharpest and hilarious dialogue for Jon Voight's Mickey.

Love that show. The interesting thing is, almost every male character is defined significantly through their relationships with the women in their lives. Am not sure that might have necessarily been the approach, with a male writer. Without dragging this discussion into the gutter, it's like the female-produced-porn vs. male-produced-porn-thing. There's a difference in approach, if not in effect -- or so I've heard. Ok, I dragged this discussion into the gutter. Sorry.

In my experience, the hunger for great writers is not being sated. The problem isn't that there are too many talented writers and not enough jobs; the problem is that there aren't enough talented writers for the jobs that are out there.

Jeff, a big fan of your work and your posts, but in my experience going out for staffing and getting meetings with showrunners off the strength of my writing, your talent is the first hurdle to landing a job, and then there's "room chemistry," - a whole new set of variables that a showrunner calculates to make a leap of faith and hire you versus someone else, maybe not as capable as you, which is out of the writer's control. One guy was nice enough to confide in me about it during our meeting. This part's more like dating. I WISH it was just about talent. If showrunners were making blind offers off of material, it would be a different thing.

JeffLowell
03-03-2014, 06:28 AM
Jeff, a big fan of your work and your posts, but in my experience going out for staffing and getting meetings with showrunners off the strength of my writing, your talent is the first hurdle to landing a job, and then there's "room chemistry," - a whole new set of variables that a showrunner calculates to make a leap of faith and hire you versus someone else, maybe not as capable as you, which is out of the writer's control. One guy was nice enough to confide in me about it during our meeting. This part's more like dating. I WISH it was just about talent. If showrunners were making blind offers off of material, it would be a different thing.

A very fair point. TV writers have to spend countless hours together, so personality does count for a lot. You can definitely meeting your way out of and into a job.

But I'll say this, having been involved with hiring writers on a lot of shows - when a great script shows up (and they're rare), the meeting gets a lot easier. A strong script is like being attractive - your date is going to ignore a few flaws, and you're a lot more likely to get laid.

James B
03-03-2014, 07:35 AM
Nicely said, Jeff, as usual. I'll add, I try to be vigilant when I can about things that might make me more un****able (asterisks mine, thank you). I figure, that can't be a bad thing in a collaborative field. This was my takeaway basically from the OP, who may or may not have certain biases, but so do we all.

madworld
03-03-2014, 08:31 AM
A very fair point. TV writers have to spend countless hours together, so personality does count for a lot. You can definitely meeting your way out of and into a job.

But I'll say this, having been involved with hiring writers on a lot of shows - when a great script shows up (and they're rare), the meeting gets a lot easier. A strong script is like being attractive - your date is going to ignore a few flaws, and you're a lot more likely to get laid.

I dunno, my agency told me that getting me staffed is "next to impossible" and I shouldn't concentrate on it. They love and are sending my pilot out to producers, have a lot of confidence in me and I've gotten good (sociable) responses in the room from my pitches/ meetings, but the agency doesn't feel I could get staffed and their reason is - it's highly competitive and not the best concentration of my time. I keep reading the opposite, that it's impossible to sell pilots, but that's where their focus is. I'd love to be working on a show, at least get a shot. So are jobs really out there?

---

JeffLowell
03-03-2014, 10:33 AM
I'd say the odds of being staffed are much better than the odds of selling a spec pilot. Neither odds are good, but if you look at the raw numbers of new writers who get a staff writer job vs selling a pilot, I bet it skews heavily towards the former.

That said, your reps may have a strategy they've seen success with. I'm not trying to second guess them.

madworld
03-03-2014, 10:50 AM
Thanks for the input Jeff. I won't either.

James B
03-03-2014, 11:12 AM
Perhaps it matters if you've been staffed before or not? I haven't, but I've worked hi-level in TV in other capacities. So, I've had more development meetings that led to pilots than serious staffing meetings (beyond generals). For a writer with room experience, maybe it's the opposite?

Just checked to see if there's a 2014 staffing thread. Didn't see any, so maybe now's a good time to start one up, so people can relay their experiences? I could do it. Would love to learn more from the folks here. Thoughts?

Eric Boellner
03-03-2014, 11:38 AM
But you already have a P-O-N-E-Y.

I want it ALL! :bounce:

sc111
03-03-2014, 03:25 PM
A compilation of tweets by "Mystery Exec" on the topic of men writing female characters.

http://theblackboard.blcklst.com/forums/topic/mysteryexecs-advice-to-male-screenwriters-on-writing-women/

Eric Boellner
03-04-2014, 10:22 AM
A compilation of tweets by "Mystery Exec" on the topic of men writing female characters.

http://theblackboard.blcklst.com/forums/topic/mysteryexecs-advice-to-male-screenwriters-on-writing-women/

I was wondering when this would pop up. Loved Cate Blanchett's acceptance speech Sunday night, too. "The world is round, people."

And then this article kind of depressed me. http://www.dailydot.com/opinion/jennifer-lawrence-lupita-nyongo-backlash/

sc111
03-04-2014, 11:55 AM
I was wondering when this would pop up. Loved Cate Blanchett's acceptance speech Sunday night, too. "The world is round, people."

And then this article kind of depressed me. http://www.dailydot.com/opinion/jennifer-lawrence-lupita-nyongo-backlash/

Yeah. The article is depressing but it's also par for the course. What's worse is when other women drink the koolaid and spout the party line. I caught a few minutes of Wendy Williams criticizing Jennifer Lawrence for announcing she's taking a year off after making like 12 films in two years between the ages of 21 and 23. And after criticizing her in fine misogynist fashion, accusing Lawrence of not willing to work hard, Wendy Williams then says, something to the effect of, 'When you come back, J-Law, we may not want to see you.'

Misogyny runs deep in our culture and it's so ingrained few men or women are aware they hold the belief that women are 'less' than men. Their opinions are worth less. Their skills are worth less. Their stories are worth less. It dates back centuries, back to Aristotle, who posited that women are by nature inferior to men.

Simply stating this will likely start another backlash here with personal anecdotes, "I never discriminate against women" and "I always support women." But I'm not talking about misogyny on a one-to-one basis. On a one-to-one basis people are, the great majority of the time, reasonable and fair. I'm talking about the mob effect or crowd effect in our society which tolerates the institutionalized belief than women are of lesser value than men. It's built into the structure of our society.

Manchester
03-04-2014, 12:45 PM
I caught a few minutes of Wendy Williams criticizing Jennifer Lawrence for announcing she's taking a year off after making like 12 films in two years between the ages of 21 and 23. And after criticizing her in fine misogynist fashion, accusing Lawrence of not willing to work hard, Wendy Williams then says, something to the effect of, 'When you come back, J-Law, we may not want to see you.'

Misogyny runs deep in our culture and it's so ingrained few men or women are aware they hold the belief that women are 'less' than men.
And when Wendy Williams makes comparably snarky comments about men, does anyone think of any of them in terms of misandry? ("Snark" is her stock in trade.)

Indeed, as to any snarky comment that's been made about Matthew McConaughey in all the years of his career, has anyone thrown a "misandry" flag at any of those?

And when the male protag in Her is a schlubby-looking guy, is that objectification of men - saying that any man who isn't handsome is only capable of a romantic relationship with a machine?

To paraphrase a quote often attributed to Freud: Sometimes snark about a woman is merely snark about a woman.

And of course, sometimes it is misogyny.

sc111
03-04-2014, 01:09 PM
And when Wendy Williams makes comparably snarky comments about men, does anyone think of any of them in terms of misandry? ("Snark" is her stock in trade.)

Indeed, as to any snarky comment that's been made about Matthew McConaughey in all the years of his career, has anyone thrown a "misandry" flag at any of those?

And when the male protag in Her is a schlubby-looking guy, is that objectification of men - saying that any man who isn't handsome is only capable of a romantic relationship with a machine?

To paraphrase a quote often attributed to Freud: Sometimes snark about a woman is merely snark about a woman.

And of course, sometimes it is misogyny.

I'm talking about William's main complaint that Jennifer Lawrence was not willing to work hard. The inherent ridicule in rolling her eyes over Lawrence stating she needs a break after 12 films in two years. And more eye rolling by Williams over the physical demands of doing three Hunger Games films back to back. The barely veiled subtext was clear: Lawrence is weak.

But let's make this about McConaughey because that's far more important.

JeffLowell
03-04-2014, 01:22 PM
When Joaquin Phoenix announced his retirement and was criticized, was that evidence of sexism?

When Shia LaBeouf announced his retirement and was criticized, was that evidence of sexism?

The barely veiled subtext was clear: Lawrence is weak.

Can't one criticize a woman in the same way one criticizes a man without it being an attack on the entire gender?

sc111
03-04-2014, 01:25 PM
When Joaquin Phoenix announced his retirement and was criticized, was that evidence of sexism?

When Shia LaBeouf announced his retirement and was criticized, was that evidence of sexism?



Can't one criticize a woman in the same way one criticizes a man without it being an attack on the entire gender?

Were either of those men characterized as being unwilling to work hard? No. They weren't.

JeffLowell
03-04-2014, 01:32 PM
They absolutely were. They both were criticized for the ridiculousness of walking away from what's perceived to be an easy life because the demands were too much for them.

sc111
03-04-2014, 01:44 PM
They absolutely were. They both were criticized for the ridiculousness of walking away from what's perceived to be an easy life because the demands were too much for them.

Phoenix was criticized when he announced he was leaving acting to be a rapper -- which turned out to be a hoax.

LaBeouf was criticized for "Leaving public life" after an attack on his "artistic integrity" when accused of plagiarism.

I was responding to the article Eddie linked. I made a valid observation of what I saw on the WW show. Why am I not surprised you and Manchester have rushed in to invalidate my point.

That's okay, tie yourself up in knots in an effort to deny what most reasonable people, not to mention decades of studies, acknowledge: a long history of gender bias in our society.

Your every attempt proves the point.

Manchester
03-04-2014, 02:00 PM
To paraphrase a quote often attributed to Freud: Sometimes snark about a woman is merely snark about a woman.

And of course, sometimes it is misogyny.

That's okay, tie yourself up in knots in an effort to deny what most reasonable people, not to mention decades of studies, acknowledge: a long history of gender bias in our society.

Your every attempt proves the point.
Or, your reading of my post, as shown by your reply, proves something else.

They absolutely were. They both were criticized for the ridiculousness of walking away from what's perceived to be an easy life because the demands were too much for them.Why am I not surprised you and Manchester have rushed in to invalidate my point.
Please don't slander Jeff by such a reckless claim of association. OTOH, thanks.

JeffLowell
03-04-2014, 03:01 PM
That's okay, tie yourself up in knots in an effort to deny what most reasonable people, not to mention decades of studies, acknowledge: a long history of gender bias in our society.

Your every attempt proves the point.

Yes, having a discussion about one incident (a woman talking about another woman, btw!) proves that I deny the existence of gender bias in toto, over the course of human history.

I withdraw from this conversation, thoroughly defeated.

castilleja32
03-04-2014, 03:19 PM
I read the post mentioned above re mystery exec, and in comments this caught my attention:

[following is comment text from a poster on that site/not sure how else to quote it]"Whilst I completely agree with Mystery Exec obviously, I have to take issue with the notion that’s MALE screenwriters who are the issue here, at least in the spec world. -- As I’ve said over and over, as a script editor I have seen NO correlation between bad female characters and the gender of the spec screenwriter; a male spec screenwriter is just as likely to write a “good” female character as a female spec screenwriter (and vice versa). -- Female spec writers CANNOT get complacent about female characterisation, as if they’re party to some kind of special “truth”, by virtue of being female. Writing is difficult. There are no short cuts. Ergo we must put in as much thought and care as male writers when approaching our female characters."

* * *

I think there are a lot of different issues being discussed in this thread. First is the gender inequality in hiring male vs. female writers; then there's the issue of gender inequality in female leads vs. male leads. There's been some healthy but also depressing discussion of these issues lately that are backed up by a lot of research.

On the other hand, I think the discussion of men writing women characters leads to sort of a bottomless pit of contradictions. In my mind it's more an issue of character types, genre twists, and cliche story turns that are replicated by both male and female writers with women characters that are, for instance, disempowered, obnoxious, or wimps. So there's definitely a push-back going on. A lot of movies just aren't enjoyable for women because of these sour notes.

However: some (not most or all) recent scripts by women have also featured disempowered characters, which to me means characters who have to negate their career, powerful status, or heart's desire. And too often it seems to happen in romantic comedies that are written by women as well as men.

sc111
03-04-2014, 04:29 PM
Yes, having a discussion about one incident (a woman talking about another woman, btw!) proves that I deny the existence of gender bias in toto, over the course of human history.

I withdraw from this conversation, thoroughly defeated.

I wasn't having a discussion about the one incident. I made an observation about Wendy Williams' comments in response to an article Eddie linked (did you read the article?) then talked at greater length about societal bias against women.A bias so deep other women practice it. You ignored my larger point, parsed what I said about Williams, refuted it by holding up two male actors as proof my observation was incorrect.

Some people call that a strawman argument:

The so-called typical "attacking a straw man" implies an adversarial, polemic, or combative debate, and creates the illusion of having completely refuted or defeated an opponent's proposition by covertly replacing it with a different proposition (i.e., "stand up a straw man") and then to refute or defeat that false argument, ("knock down a straw man,") instead of the original proposition.

JeffLowell
03-04-2014, 06:36 PM
I've already admitted you're right about everything. No need to keep lecturing me. You've won!

Richmond Weems
03-04-2014, 07:00 PM
But what are the terms of your surrender, Jeff? Will you have to admit you cannot write women characters better than SC111? Will arm wrestling forever be relegated to men? Will women continue to suffer under your rule?

Personally, I think you should regroup and plan a sneak attack by starting another thread on how you took HOTEL FOR DOGS away from Snoopy and proved Snoopy was, and always will be, a hack.

JeffLowell
03-04-2014, 07:25 PM
No terms. Unconditional surrender. I hereby concede every point. I have rolled over on my back, exposed my belly, and pissed myself.

Rantanplan
03-04-2014, 08:13 PM
A very cliched writer.

That wasn't the point, actually. It may be a cliche, but a cliche most likely to be generated by one gender over the other. The point is, between a male and female writer sitting at their laptops dreaming up an attractive lead, they might have different opinions as to what kind of attributes that lead may have.

I remember reading in some French film mag, the description of the typical American male action hero. I don't remember the whole piece, but the word "asexual" stuck in my mind. So maybe a French writer would have a different take on things. Or a woman writer.

I think a good writer can make the audience believe anything he/she wants them to believe. But I also think it's possible that gender may affect how a character is portrayed.

I for one had a manager who didn't think my lead (female) fell into the right category of what either men or women expected (I guess I bombed on both levels). The relationship didn't last long..

Aros
03-04-2014, 10:11 PM
There are far more films with male leads over female leads. Don't male-led scripts sale more often? If females tend to write more screenplays and teleplays that revolve around a lead female character, that would explain the large difference in the genders of sold and produced writers.

ducky1288
03-04-2014, 10:29 PM
Of my last 5 projects, four of them had male leads... I just finished a pilot with two female leads and being female, this is going to sound dumb, but I felt a little rusty.

I think I felt a bar to live up to is because I know how closely female writers look at female characters. And I couldn't help but wonder if it's because females perceive ourselves as being much more complex than men? I'm sure any married man would agree with that... But now it has me thinking, would men say they are complex? Women would likely say no but that's because we are comparing them to us -- I'm just rambling, I'm not really sure. I guess I'm indifferent for the most part. I've never had anyone say anything about the way I write male characters, but I typically write them as complex too.

I think female characters just need more purpose in films and that'll make them feel like better characters in general.

tinlizzie
03-05-2014, 06:55 AM
That wasn't the point, actually. It may be a cliche, but a cliche most likely to be generated by one gender over the other. The point is, between a male and female writer sitting at their laptops dreaming up an attractive lead, they might have different opinions as to what kind of attributes that lead may have.

I remember reading in some French film mag, the description of the typical American male action hero. I don't remember the whole piece, but the word "asexual" stuck in my mind. So maybe a French writer would have a different take on things. Or a woman writer.

I think a good writer can make the audience believe anything he/she wants them to believe. But I also think it's possible that gender may affect how a character is portrayed.

I for one had a manager who didn't think my lead (female) fell into the right category of what either men or women expected (I guess I bombed on both levels). The relationship didn't last long..
I actually think the real problem lies in the experience at the end of your post. It's not so much a question of whether or not one sex can effectively write the other as it is a question of skewed expectation created by what has come before making it okay to have one dimensional women. As long as writers keep seeing this in produced or otherwise recognized material, they're going to keep writing it - be they men OR women - they just might write it in different ways.

Bobby Dazzler
03-05-2014, 07:12 AM
Most of this thread has me scratching my head.

Except for when I pissed myself laughing...

No terms. Unconditional surrender. I hereby concede every point. I have rolled over on my back, exposed my belly, and pissed myself.

:rolling:

sc111
03-05-2014, 09:36 AM
I've already admitted you're right about everything. No need to keep lecturing me. You've won!

No terms. Unconditional surrender. I hereby concede every point. I have rolled over on my back, exposed my belly, and pissed myself.

Insincerity doesn't become you, Jeff.

Eric Boellner
03-05-2014, 10:19 AM
I think the responses to the Wendy Williams thing are more telling than the Wendy Williams thing itself. Anytime someone is so eager to prove that something is SO TOTALLY NOT SEXIST, I can't help but wonder if they would ever accept an actual example of sexism as such, or if they're simply apologists eager to defend a Very Broken System.

The sarcasm that followed, of course, is just condescending.

Anyone who legitimately believes that sexism is not a serious issue in this industry, or that misogyny is not a serious issue in our culture as a whole, is fooling themselves. And anyone who doesn't believe that... well, I don't know why you'd be so quick to rush to the defense of someone who, herself is so quick to attack a talented young actress, for the grave sin of doing something OTHER than entertaining us until she faints or we get bored with her.

To be clear, without diluting or backtracking on anything I've said, I'm not accusing anyone in this thread of sexism, much less misogyny. Just curious why you're so quick to defend it.

carcar
03-05-2014, 10:34 AM
Who the hell is Wendy Williams? The talk show host, is that the one we're talking about? Why are we talking about what she thinks? She needs to fill air time and get eyes on her. Nothing against her for doing her job but...

What impact does her opinion really have on the industry? If it was Amy Pascal, I might listen.

Eric Boellner
03-05-2014, 10:51 AM
Who the hell is Wendy Williams? The talk show host, is that the one we're talking about? Why are we talking about what she thinks? She needs to fill air time and get eyes on her. Nothing against her for doing her job but...

What impact does her opinion really have on the industry? If it was Amy Pascal, I might listen.

The article I posted, to which sc111 responded with the bit about Wendy Williams, wasn't about sexism/misogyny in this industry, but in our culture. I don't know who Wendy Williams is, but her views don't seem too far off from the tabloids, talk shows and blog posts that influence and reflect the way our society looks at celebrities.

JeffLowell
03-05-2014, 11:24 AM
Insincerity doesn't become you, Jeff.

Accept yes for an answer.

emily blake
03-05-2014, 11:52 AM
Everybody take a breath, please. This thread is falling apart. Please get back on topic.

sc111
03-05-2014, 12:13 PM
The article I posted, to which sc111 responded with the bit about Wendy Williams, wasn't about sexism/misogyny in this industry, but in our culture. I don't know who Wendy Williams is, but her views don't seem too far off from the tabloids, talk shows and blog posts that influence and reflect the way our society looks at celebrities.

BTW: I referred to you as Eddie for some reason. Sorry, Eric.

Yes. That's exactly who she is -- her TV show is all celebrity gossip. From my observations, she judges women celebrities more harshly than men. She holds women to a higher standard. But that's common among some women. I'm sure she doesn't even realize she's doing it. She'll criticize bad behavior in male celebrities yet write it off as 'boys will be boys' or 'what can you expect, he's a man.' Yet when a woman celebrity screws up, she's up in arms. Because women should be wiser, stronger, better, nicer, etc. than men.

When Justin Bieber was arrested in Miami, Williams made a passing reference to his father being "a bad influence" having been right there beside him encouraging the behavior. So I have this thought, "At least she didn't blame his mother," and a nano-second later she says, "I want to know - where is Justin's mother! Why isn't she stepping in!"

Amazing. Dad is a "bad influence" but, you know, he's a man after all. But Mom? Mom is guilty of letting her son run wild. Bad Mommy.

You know, the only reason I mentioned Wendy Williams was because the article you linked talked about backlash against Jennifer Lawrence. And William's comment was something I caught days earlier so it was front of mind. What I found interesting is that, even when accusing a woman of sexism, the denials were quick to come. Imagine if I'd used a man as an example.

I think the responses to the Wendy Williams thing are more telling than the Wendy Williams thing itself. Anytime someone is so eager to prove that something is SO TOTALLY NOT SEXIST, I can't help but wonder if they would ever accept an actual example of sexism as such, or if they're simply apologists eager to defend a Very Broken System.

The sarcasm that followed, of course, is just condescending.

Anyone who legitimately believes that sexism is not a serious issue in this industry, or that misogyny is not a serious issue in our culture as a whole, is fooling themselves. And anyone who doesn't believe that... well, I don't know why you'd be so quick to rush to the defense of someone who, herself is so quick to attack a talented young actress, for the grave sin of doing something OTHER than entertaining us until she faints or we get bored with her.

To be clear, without diluting or backtracking on anything I've said, I'm not accusing anyone in this thread of sexism, much less misogyny. Just curious why you're so quick to defend it.

Is denial of its existence a form of defending it? In some cases, maybe. However, I think the "See no evil" denial of sexism is more likely linked to the discomfort in looking at the issue as it relates to oneself.

For women, denial means you don't have to look closer at the ways you are, or have been, a target of sexism.

For men, denial means you don't have to look closer at any sexist views you hold or the ways you perpetuate sexism.

Of course, denial of its existence is one sure way of ensuring it continues unchecked.

sc111
03-05-2014, 12:19 PM
Everybody take a breath, please. This thread is falling apart. Please get back on topic.

If my post above is considered off topic, let me know.

wrytnow
03-05-2014, 01:13 PM
Originally Posted by JeffLowell
No terms. Unconditional surrender. I hereby concede every point. I have rolled over on my back, exposed my belly, and pissed myself.
Insincerity doesn't become you, Jeff.
Depends on how cute his belly is.

wrytnow
03-05-2014, 01:15 PM
I think the responses to the Wendy Williams thing are more telling than the Wendy Williams thing itself. Anytime someone is so eager to prove that something is SO TOTALLY NOT SEXIST, I can't help but wonder if they would ever accept an actual example of sexism as such, or if they're simply apologists eager to defend a Very Broken System.

The sarcasm that followed, of course, is just condescending.

Anyone who legitimately believes that sexism is not a serious issue in this industry, or that misogyny is not a serious issue in our culture as a whole, is fooling themselves. And anyone who doesn't believe that... well, I don't know why you'd be so quick to rush to the defense of someone who, herself is so quick to attack a talented young actress, for the grave sin of doing something OTHER than entertaining us until she faints or we get bored with her.

To be clear, without diluting or backtracking on anything I've said, I'm not accusing anyone in this thread of sexism, much less misogyny. Just curious why you're so quick to defend it.

+++

Manchester
03-05-2014, 01:42 PM
I think the responses to the Wendy Williams thing are more telling than the Wendy Williams thing itself. Anytime someone is so eager to prove that something is SO TOTALLY NOT SEXIST, I can't help but wonder if they would ever accept an actual example of sexism as such, or if they're simply apologists eager to defend a Very Broken System.

The sarcasm that followed, of course, is just condescending.

Anyone who legitimately believes that sexism is not a serious issue in this industry, or that misogyny is not a serious issue in our culture as a whole, is fooling themselves. And anyone who doesn't believe that... well, I don't know why you'd be so quick to rush to the defense of someone who, herself is so quick to attack a talented young actress, for the grave sin of doing something OTHER than entertaining us until she faints or we get bored with her.

To be clear, without diluting or backtracking on anything I've said, I'm not accusing anyone in this thread of sexism, much less misogyny. Just curious why you're so quick to defend it.
Well, first you'd have to grasp the meaning of "defend".

Arguably, I was the first one to "defend" Wendy Williams. My "defense" was that she's snarky about everyone.

And then... I ended that "defense" post of mine with this:To paraphrase a quote often attributed to Freud: Sometimes snark about a woman is merely snark about a woman.

And of course, sometimes it is misogyny.
Somehow, that post of mine led to my being labeled a denier of the existence of misogyny.

Now, to be clear here, let me repeat: I ended that "defense" post of mine with this:To paraphrase a quote often attributed to Freud: Sometimes snark about a woman is merely snark about a woman.

And of course, sometimes it is misogyny.
And then - again, repeating for the sake of clarity:Somehow, that post of mine led to my being labeled a denier of the existence of misogyny.
In light of the posts made in this thread by those who think everything-negative-that's-said-about-a-woman-(even-by-a-woman)-emanates-from-misogyny, I wonder how you weren't driven to blow your own brains out by the very existence on TV of "30 Rock".

RIP, Andrea Dworkin.

______

PS: As to this -
To be clear, without diluting or backtracking on anything I've said, I'm not accusing anyone in this thread of sexism, much less misogyny.
That's as if saying, "You should die. Die, die, die. Now, without diluting or backtracking on that, I'm not saying you should actually die. Oh, but now, please die."

Jon Jay
03-05-2014, 01:52 PM
C'mon guys, can't we all unite around what we have in common, like racism?

castilleja32
03-05-2014, 03:18 PM
Seems like Mars retrograde at work here (just when we were out of the woods with the recently ended Mercury retrograde).

JeffLowell
03-05-2014, 05:53 PM
Manchester, you ever see WarGames? Do you remember what the computer concluded?

odocoileus
03-05-2014, 09:47 PM
No terms. Unconditional surrender. I hereby concede every point. I have rolled over on my back, exposed my belly, and pissed myself.


"So why are you shaking?" asked the lion. "Well," said the monkey, "it's just that I've never had sex with a lion before." :bounce:

Aros
03-06-2014, 08:51 AM
John Hughes once said that he didn't include minority characters in his films because he knew he couldn't properly convey them. He grew up in a segregated community. His adolescent experiences completely lacked racial minorities. He realized that and didn't even attempt to write them. Except the one extremely racist caricature Asian character named Long Duk Dong in 16 Candles which still gets huge criticism to this day. And that was the last and only time he incorporated a minority into a large role in one of his scripts.

I imagine the same does apply to some male screenwriters as it pertains to female characters. They just aren't knowledgeable enough. Has there ever been an important female character in a Michael Bay work that served a different purpose than wearing low cut tops and mini skirts for men to oogle over? This is where the misogyny comes into play. Many female characters are the equivalent of Long Duk Dong.

sc111
03-06-2014, 12:35 PM
Well, first you'd have to grasp the meaning of "defend".

Arguably, I was the first one to "defend" Wendy Williams. My "defense" was that she's snarky about everyone.

And then... I ended that "defense" post of mine with this:To paraphrase a quote often attributed to Freud: Sometimes snark about a woman is merely snark about a woman.

And of course, sometimes it is misogyny.
Somehow, that post of mine led to my being labeled a denier of the existence of misogyny.

Now, to be clear here, let me repeat: I ended that "defense" post of mine with this:To paraphrase a quote often attributed to Freud: Sometimes snark about a woman is merely snark about a woman.

And of course, sometimes it is misogyny.
And then - again, repeating for the sake of clarity:Somehow, that post of mine led to my being labeled a denier of the existence of misogyny.
In light of the posts made in this thread by those who think everything-negative-that's-said-about-a-woman-(even-by-a-woman)-emanates-from-misogyny, I wonder how you weren't driven to blow your own brains out by the very existence on TV of "30 Rock".

RIP, Andrea Dworkin.

______

PS: As to this -

That's as if saying, "You should die. Die, die, die. Now, without diluting or backtracking on that, I'm not saying you should actually die. Oh, but now, please die."


At least be accurate. The thrust of your post was this:

And when Wendy Williams makes comparably snarky comments about men, does anyone think of any of them in terms of misandry? ("Snark" is her stock in trade.)

Indeed, as to any snarky comment that's been made about Matthew McConaughey in all the years of his career, has anyone thrown a "misandry" flag at any of those?

And when the male protag in Her is a schlubby-looking guy, is that objectification of men - saying that any man who isn't handsome is only capable of a romantic relationship with a machine?


There's a lot more going on above than a claim of snark is just snark. And if your tone had been different, if I had any hope you wanted to discuss the topic sincerely, instead of mansplaining to me, with no less than Freud as your reference, as if I were an idiot, sometimes snark is just snark, I would have said, "Yeah, misandry does exist in our society."

Men are also locked into society-approved roles and behavior and when they don't comply with these standards they pay dearly. When women like Williams say, "What can you expect, he's a man," that's misandry. When men degrade other men as pussies (because the greatest insult is tell a man he's like a woman), that's misandry.

But when men do comply with society's expectations, society is structured in a way they don't bump their heads up against a "ceiling" that dictates how far the "tribe" will allow them to go. Men get better rewards for toeing the line. The metaphorical swag bag for women who comply is smaller and, in my opinion, less interesting.

As this relates to characters in film, I'm equally irritated by hyper-male, machismo-glorifying, shoot-first-ask-questions-later stereotypes of men as I am by woman-as-life-support-system-for-boobs characters.

Manchester
03-06-2014, 03:32 PM
Manchester, you ever see WarGames? Do you remember what the computer concluded?
I am merely the straight man here. Thank you, Jeff, for supplying the punchline.

And yet, I am so regularly bombarded by the counter-thesis, in the form of ads for a vast variety of state-run lotteries. And lotteries fund our schools. And schools are fundamental to America's yutes (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNZ1O2KTOOg&feature=youtu.be&t=32s).

But apart from that... While I am not well-read, I was fortunate as a yute to have been introduced to the fine works of Eugene Ionesco, in whose world one can find such gems as this: Logician: A cat has four paws.
Old Gentleman: My dog had four paws.
Logician: Then it's a cat.
Old Gentleman: So my dog is a cat?
Logician: And the contrary is also true.
As it happens, some days my attraction to Ionesco-like worlds overwhelms my knowledge of the lesson of WarGames.

Eric Boellner
03-06-2014, 03:47 PM
PS: As to this -

That's as if saying, "You should die. Die, die, die. Now, without diluting or backtracking on that, I'm not saying you should actually die. Oh, but now, please die."

You're welcome to take or leave my post as it stands. I find it interesting that you cut the last paragraph in half, addressing each sentence separately, and therefore removing the context they were written in.

I quite clearly did not accuse you, or Jeff, of sexism. Denial, perhaps, but that's a long way from sexism. I've worked in a place where some of the worst sexism and misogyny I've seen in my life was simply par for the course. I don't take (or give) those accusations lightly, and I certainly didn't offer them here. To do so would be to reduce the weight of those claims against actual cases of such.

For the record, I haven't read or heard anything Wendy Williams has written or said, other than what sc111 said of it, and I wouldn't go so far as to call that misogyny. Sexism, yes. Hateful, even. Without reading it in full, I'd hesitate to say misogyny.

Obviously, anyone who knows how to debate will be easily able to tear my post apart, sentence by sentence, and deconstruct my points until I appear to be saying that the sky is green and the earth is really the a--hole of a giant space pig. Like I said, take it or leave it.

Not really sure why I joined this topic, haha. Old habits, I suppose. For what it's worth, there's a lot to be said for the distinctively female nature of the protagonist of Her (it's literally a typical female role, but played by a man), but literally none of his problems in that film have anything to do with his looks or his "schlubby" appearance.

Eric Boellner
03-06-2014, 03:50 PM
C'mon guys, can't we all unite around what we have in common, like racism?

NGL, this cracked me up. :bounce:

JeffLowell
03-06-2014, 04:14 PM
Why do you hate cats so much, Manchester?

Manchester
03-06-2014, 04:21 PM
Why do you hate cats so much, Manchester?
Ever since the ***** Riot of '12.

Manchester
03-06-2014, 04:27 PM
I mean, I'm fine with a ***** Uprising. But a ***** Riot...? Nope. Not me. I am anti-riotistic. That's a threat to the patriarchy. And to the Motherland.

wrytnow
03-06-2014, 06:38 PM
You're welcome to take or leave my post as it stands. .
Your post was excellent. Hence the attempts to erase it's meaning.

JoeBanks
03-06-2014, 08:48 PM
I imagine the same does apply to some male screenwriters as it pertains to female characters. They just aren't knowledgeable enough. Has there ever been an important female character in a Michael Bay work that served a different purpose than wearing low cut tops and mini skirts for men to oogle over? This is where the misogyny comes into play. Many female characters are the equivalent of Long Duk Dong.

The same John Hughes who wrote Sam in 16 Candles, Andie in Pretty in Pink, Claire and Allison in The Breakfast Club, and Watts in Some Kind of Wonderful? Sad that he just wasn't knowledgeable enough to render them truthfully or memorably.

tinlizzie
03-07-2014, 06:22 AM
I almost hesitate to start up this debate again with yet another potential observation, but …

I wandered over to another forum I frequent that is primarily novel writers and posed a version of the questions we've been discussing here and one writer had an interesting point. She argued that this is a question not just on the writing end of things but also on the consumption end. In her mind, there is a bias towards one's own sex when reading - some women like/identify with ALL characters written by women better than those written by men (and presumably vice versa).

If this bias exists, I think it is probably heavier in fiction than in film since we experience film in a way that I think is closer to life than the fiction that we must imagine for ourselves. Nonetheless, the idea adds a whole new layer to the question which, in my mind, just makes it even harder to determine effects and thus puts even less emphasis on gender over simple writing skills.

wrytnow
03-07-2014, 08:12 AM
Nonetheless, the idea adds a whole new layer to the question which, in my mind, just makes it even harder to determine effects and thus puts even less emphasis on gender over simple writing skills.
To me, the issue was/is always about writing skill. Creating realistic characters with depth is the topic of the topic, IMO. The problem seems to be accepting that stereotypes exist and are bad things.

Aros
03-07-2014, 02:55 PM
The same John Hughes who wrote Sam in 16 Candles, Andie in Pretty in Pink, Claire and Allison in The Breakfast Club, and Watts in Some Kind of Wonderful? Sad that he just wasn't knowledgeable enough to render them truthfully or memorably.

No, no, I am talking about black, Latino, and Asian characters in Hughes case. And then I said the same can be applied to SOME writers with FEMALE characters.

Eric Boellner
03-08-2014, 10:09 AM
This came up in my Twitter feed yesterday, and I think it speaks volumes about the mindset in Hollywood toward women.

Brian Duffield (Jane Got a Gun, Your Bridesmaid is a Bitch, Insurgent) tweeted:
As someone who tries to write strong roles for women, it would SHOCK you how many times I've gotten asked if the lead could be raped.Also coincidental: according to Google, today is International Women's Day.

bmcthomas
03-08-2014, 01:30 PM
I don't think I would be shocked. "Strong" female characters are often seen as unlikeable and making them a victim of some kind of assault is seen as a quick and easy way to get the audience to sympathize.

Virtually every crime procedural with a "tough female cop/lawyer" character, for example, displays this trope to varying degrees.

eta: I just realized this sounds like I endorse the practice, which I don't. I'm just saying I'm not surprised at the rallying cry of "MOAR RAPE!"

Eric Boellner
03-08-2014, 02:13 PM
I don't think I would be shocked. "Strong" female characters are often seen as unlikeable and making them a victim of some kind of assault is seen as a quick and easy way to get the audience to sympathize.

Virtually every crime procedural with a "tough female cop/lawyer" character, for example, displays this trope to varying degrees.

eta: I just realized this sounds like I endorse the practice, which I don't. I'm just saying I'm not surprised at the rallying cry of "MOAR RAPE!"

I agree that it's not incredibly surprising, and also agree with the subtext/eta of your post, that it's utterly wrong.

It's disgusting that "Got raped this one time..." has become the "Save the Cat!" moment for supposedly strong female characters.

wrytnow
03-08-2014, 03:44 PM
I don't think I would be shocked. "Strong" female characters are often seen as unlikeable and making them a victim of some kind of assault is seen as a quick and easy way to get the audience to sympathize.

Why is strong in quotes? And what study did you read that says strong female leads are "often" unlikeable? To whom?

The problem is audiences don't sympathize. It feeds male fantasies. Makes the threatening Alpha female subject to any Omega male unable to compete on an even footing with Alpha males.

A lot of women blame the victim. A lot of men blame the victim. Most victims blame themselves.

Ever wonder why no one wants to write for a TV show and rape the male lead? Now that would be a story.

sc111
03-08-2014, 04:05 PM
For the record, I haven't read or heard anything Wendy Williams has written or said, other than what sc111 said of it, and I wouldn't go so far as to call that misogyny. Sexism, yes. Hateful, even. Without reading it in full, I'd hesitate to say misogyny.

.

There was a reason why I used the word, misogyny, instead of sexism.

The word, sexism, itself is a relatively new term coined by the feminist movement in the late 60s. It was an attempt to make a correlation between racism and the lack of equality between men and women in "modern" society.

Coining this new term was a huge mistake (one of many mistakes I feel the feminist movement made early on). We didn't need a new term. We already had a perfectly good term: misogyny.

The word "sexist" shifts the onus away from a socio-political system founded on misogyny and puts it on men as individual oppressors of women. This is incorrect. Individually, men do not oppress women. Systems rooted in patriarchy oppress women. From now on, I'm going to avoid using the term, sexist, and stick with misogyny.

Ancient patriarchies were built on the belief that women are a subspecies of men (as per Aristotle) and therefore chattel unworthy of wealth, status and power. To maintain this belief from era to era requires an undercurrent of contempt for women to justify male dominance. This contempt is misogyny.

Fast forward to the 21st century and the concentration of wealth, status and power still remains with men. Why? How? IMO, it's because the undercurrent of misogyny is perpetuated through social conditioning of men and women alike.

The reason I don't self-identify as a feminist is because I can't bring myself to buy into the feminist belief that, by nature, men are oppressors of women, and by nature, men are more aggressive and destructive than women. All this rhetoric has achieved is to further polarize the genders.

In fact, I think the vast majority of men are not misogynist. The problem is they're socially conditioned to tolerate it or stand by in silence when witnessing it.

Which brings me to this:

I've worked in a place where some of the worst sexism and misogyny I've seen in my life was simply par for the course.

I'm curious -- how did you react?

Dr. Vergerus
03-08-2014, 04:26 PM
Strong female characters are well liked: Sarah Connor, Ellen Ripley, Nikita, Shakima Greggs (The Wire), The Bride (Kill Bill), Erin Brockovich, Buffy Summers, Alita (Battle Angel), Arya Stark, Roz Doyle (Frasier), etc.

It's bad characters that people don't like, male or female, strong or weak. And then there's also prejudice, of course. But good strong female characters are just as popular as good strong male characters. Sometimes even more.

Richmond Weems
03-08-2014, 05:31 PM
The reason I don't self-identify as a feminist is because I can't bring myself to buy into the feminist belief that, by nature, men are oppressors of women, and by nature, men are more aggressive and destructive than women. All this rhetoric has achieved is to further polarize the genders.

And yet you say that women will inherently write better female characters than men, despite evidence to the contrary.

Is it really so hard to admit that good writers, male or female, can write good characters, male or female?

Eric Boellner
03-08-2014, 05:45 PM
I'm curious -- how did you react?

I'd rather not discuss the job itself, other than to clarify that the sexism I referred to being "par for the course" was on the part of a very small number of people there, but which I didn't really realize the full effect or reality of until I left.

In essence, I did nothing. I was naive and stupid and thought it made sense at the time, and it wasn't until I was removed from it that I saw the forest for the trees. I myself said things I regret saying, and held views I regret holding. The shame of that might be a contributing factor to my strong disdain for such behavior and mentality today.

Susanlbridges
03-09-2014, 12:11 AM
The reason I don't self-identify as a feminist is because I can't bring myself to buy into the feminist belief that, by nature, men are oppressors of women, and by nature, men are more aggressive and destructive than women. All this rhetoric has achieved is to further polarize the genders.

Except that is not the actual definition of feminism. What you describe is a popular misconception of what feminism is.

nic.h
03-09-2014, 01:43 AM
Except that is not the actual definition of feminism. What you describe is a popular misconception of what feminism is.

Agreed. Feminism and feminists are drawn from a broad church. But the fundamental principle of feminism is that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. How best to achieve this is and what equality looks like is where disagreement arises, but, fwiw, I identify absolutely and unequivocably as a feminist. No apologies or qualifications from me.

However discussing the various interpretations/perceptions of feminism is best left to another thread.

figment
03-09-2014, 08:28 AM
Re: can they be raped?


I'm shocked. That's disgusting.

By the way, "strong female roles" doesn't mean they are cops. Or tough guys. Or martial arts a$$-kickers.

I take "strong female roles" to mean that they are characters that have a POV and have a purpose in the script other than as a sex object/or mom. You know, people with feelings and goals, flaws, struggles, and triumphs as if they were real people -- oh, wait, women are real people. Huh. Go figure.

Dr. Vergerus
03-09-2014, 08:59 AM
By the way, "strong female roles" doesn't mean they are cops. Or tough guys. Or martial arts a$$-kickers.

In case it has anything to do with my list of examples, I'm well aware. Those were just the characters I could think of when I wrote it. Roz Doyle and Erin Brockovich aren't ass-kickers, at least not literally.

And there are cop shows with female cop characters who are kind of weak or insecure. Kima Greggs wasn't only tough, she was also a very good detective with a strong sense of what's right and wrong. The times were she appeared weak or insecure had to do mostly with the fact that she was a bit of a rookie (compared to seasoned detectives like Freamon or McNulty), and never the fact that she was a woman.

Susanlbridges
03-09-2014, 10:09 AM
By the way, "strong female roles" doesn't mean they are cops. Or tough guys. Or martial arts a$$-kickers.

I take "strong female roles" to mean that they are characters that have a POV and have a purpose in the script other than as a sex object/or mom. You know, people with feelings and goals, flaws, struggles, and triumphs as if they were real people -- oh, wait, women are real people. Huh. Go figure.

I saw mixed viewpoints on the women in American Hustle before I saw it. The women in that movie are strong characters, not in the ass kicking sense perhaps, but they are. I know entire articles have been written disagreeing with that view though.

bmcthomas
03-09-2014, 10:25 AM
Agreed. Feminism and feminists are drawn from a broad church. But the fundamental principle of feminism is that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. How best to achieve this is and what equality looks like is where disagreement arises, but, fwiw, I identify absolutely and unequivocably as a feminist. No apologies or qualifications from me.

However discussing the various interpretations/perceptions of feminism is best left to another thread.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has a wonderful Ted Talk called "We Should All Be Feminists" and she notes that her dictionary definition of feminism is:

"Feminist: the person who believes in the social,
political and economic equality of the sexes.”

But her personal definition is

"Feminist : a man or a woman who says, “Yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today, and we must fix it, we must do better.”

I like her definition because it acknowledges that binary gender concepts hurt men as well as women.

wrytnow
03-09-2014, 11:55 AM
There was a reason why I used the word, misogyny, instead of sexism.

The word, sexism, itself is a relatively new term coined by the feminist movement in the late 60s.

Movements don't coin terms. A person coined the term, the press popularized it.

Coining this new term was a huge mistake (one of many mistakes I feel the feminist movement made early on). We didn't need a new term. We already had a perfectly good term: misogyny.

Except those two words don't have the same definition. Misogyny is specifically the hatred of women. Sexism is essentially discrimination based on a person's sex or gender. For instance, it has long been common for a court in a divorce action to automatically grant custody of the children to the woman. A man had little hope for custody unless he proved the woman unfit. That's sexism.

The word "sexist" shifts the onus away from a socio-political system founded on misogyny and puts it on men as individual oppressors of women. This is incorrect. Individually, men do not oppress women.

Individually, men do, indeed, oppress women. Groups of women they employ. Individual women they abuse.

Systems rooted in patriarchy oppress women

Systems are the constructs of actions by individuals.

The reason I don't self-identify as a feminist is because I can't bring myself to buy into the feminist belief that, by nature, men are oppressors of women, and by nature, men are more aggressive and destructive than women.

Being a feminist doesn't require two X chromosomes. However, men, by nature, are more aggressive than women. "By nature" being the operative phrase here. This is a function of the physiological differences between an XX and Xy individual. Most basically, it matters that women have about 2000 more alleles than men. It matters that men have a huge amount of testosterone pouring into their bodies relative to women. It matters that there are structural differences.

Individual traits like "aggression" that have to be defined relatively, can be plotted on a scale. The end of the spectrum for one genotype overlap the ends of the other's. But, in fact, Xy individuals are far more aggressive than XX individuals.

There are very significant differences between male and female humans. By nature. Understanding the difference between what is by nature and what is by culturization is important. Acting as if the differences don't exist, is not useful.

figment
03-09-2014, 12:48 PM
In case it has anything to do with my list of examples, I'm well aware.

It wasn't directed at your list. Your list is fine -- women shown as three dimensional human beings.

Richmond Weems
03-09-2014, 01:43 PM
It wasn't directed at your list. Your list is fine -- women shown as three dimensional human beings.

I think women should be shown the same way as the men in most movies: two-dimensional stereotypes.

Hamboogul
03-09-2014, 02:15 PM
If I limit myself to writing characters based on my age, race, and gender, I would not have anything to write about.

nic.h
03-09-2014, 02:23 PM
If I limit myself to writing characters based on my age, race, and gender, I would not have anything to write about.

1. Bullshit.
2. The point is *not* to limit yourself. To write what matters to you. And if that happens to be women characters by women writers, then brilliant. But don't shut a writer down because she's written a woman character when the same limits don't apply to men writing men.

Because that is sexism. Pure and simple.

odocoileus
03-09-2014, 03:18 PM
I think women should be shown the same way as the men in most movies: two-dimensional stereotypes.

:bounce:

But only positive stereotypes.

wrytnow
03-09-2014, 07:08 PM
I think women should be shown the same way as the men in most movies: two-dimensional stereotypes.

Men are shown as stereotypes of characters. Women are shown as stereotypes of women.

sc111
03-10-2014, 07:41 AM
I'd rather not discuss the job itself, other than to clarify that the sexism I referred to being "par for the course" was on the part of a very small number of people there, but which I didn't really realize the full effect or reality of until I left.

In essence, I did nothing. I was naive and stupid and thought it made sense at the time, and it wasn't until I was removed from it that I saw the forest for the trees. I myself said things I regret saying, and held views I regret holding. The shame of that might be a contributing factor to my strong disdain for such behavior and mentality today.

Thanks for being so frank. The reason I asked is that your post about your experiences at that job reminded me of a situation I experienced. I was the only woman in a meeting with 6 men. We were waiting for the client to arrive for our presentation. I was the sole writer on that account. The client was running late and as we sat there the CD, who was also a VP of the agency, said to me, "I'm bored. Why don't you get up on the table and dance for us." There were a couple of embarrassed chuckles from the guys.

By this point in my life (late 20s) I had become numb to these types of remarks and ignored it. But what surprised me was, after the meeting, one by one, each of the other guys stopped in my office to apologize. They were genuinely disturbed and angered by what happened. A couple angry at themselves for not saying anything. It was at this moment I realized this type of behavior demeans and harms men as well as women. It chips away at our collective humanity and sense of right and wrong.

sc111
03-10-2014, 07:57 AM
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has a wonderful Ted Talk called "We Should All Be Feminists" and she notes that her dictionary definition of feminism is:

"Feminist: the person who believes in the social,
political and economic equality of the sexes.”

But her personal definition is

"Feminist : a man or a woman who says, “Yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today, and we must fix it, we must do better.”

I like her definition because it acknowledges that binary gender concepts hurt men as well as women.

I like this definition, too, but, unfortunately, it's not commonly front of mind with the vast majority of people. The word, feminist, is emotionally charged. I find when I attempt to discuss these topics with men, the label, feminist, creates so many assumptions about me, I get mired down defending against beliefs I don't hold. If that makes sense. In general, I don't like labeling. This dates back to being a little girl who decided not to join the Brownies because I didn't want to wear the uniform which, in my mind, signified I was exactly like everyone else who wore the uniform. :)

bmcthomas
03-10-2014, 08:03 AM
I like this definition, too, but, unfortunately, it's not commonly front of mind with the vast majority of people. The word, feminist, is emotionally charged. I find when I attempt to discuss these topics with men, the label, feminist, creates so many assumptions about me, I get mired down defending against beliefs I don't hold. If that makes sense. In general, I don't like labeling. This dates back to being a little girl who decided not to join the Brownies because I didn't want to wear the uniform which, in my mind, signified I was exactly like everyone else who wore the uniform. :)

Eh, the way people react to the word "feminism" says more about them than i does about feminism. And I'm not one to let the ignorance of others, vast majority or not, control my decisions.

sc111
03-10-2014, 08:41 AM
Being a feminist doesn't require two X chromosomes. However, men, by nature, are more aggressive than women. "By nature" being the operative phrase here. This is a function of the physiological differences between an XX and Xy individual. Most basically, it matters that women have about 2000 more alleles than men. It matters that men have a huge amount of testosterone pouring into their bodies relative to women. It matters that there are structural differences.

Individual traits like "aggression" that have to be defined relatively, can be plotted on a scale. The end of the spectrum for one genotype overlap the ends of the other's. But, in fact, Xy individuals are far more aggressive than XX individuals.

There are very significant differences between male and female humans. By nature. Understanding the difference between what is by nature and what is by culturization is important. Acting as if the differences don't exist, is not useful.

There are studies suggesting these "nature" differences between the genders are to a much lesser degree than previously thought. And that "nurture" through socialization either intensifies them or sublimates them.

When I have time I'll find the links but in overview it was found that women are socialized to sublimate their aggressive impulses while men are socialized to act upon them.

Aggression in itself enables propagation of the species. Females of every species have the capacity to be ferocious in protecting their offspring, their packs, their dens. However, over the course of a couple thousand years patriarchal societies have conditioned women of the human species to be non-aggressive. The helpless woman cowering in the corner as the man fights off the enemy is a construct of society, not nature.

I also read a good while ago (a book, not online) that many of the reported differences in gender aggression were based on studies done back in the 40s and 50s. Conclusions were drawn from interviews of men and women. It was determined that because men reported fantasizing about being an aggressor, and women reported they did not have these fantasies, it was proof men are more naturally aggressive.

In the 1980s, a female scientist decided to run the same study again and found women indeed fantasized about kicking butt all the time. They had revenge fantasies. Fantasies of killing, too. Why the big difference? The theory was floated that, back in the 40s and 50s, women simply lied in the study. So heavily conditioned that "good girls don't" they answered the questions in ways they believed were expected of them. In the 80s, after 20 years of the feminist movement, women felt freer in responding.

The conditioning starts very young. Even well meaning parents sensitive to gender issues find their sons and daughters are socialized to conform to gender roles as soon as they get into school -- as young as three or four for kids who go to preschool. Add in the media saturation and most kids are complying with gender roles shortly after they're potty trained.

Edited to add: Let me stress, I'm not saying there are no differences between men an women. I'm simply saying the assumed gap between the genders related to things like aggression is not as wide as previously thought.

sc111
03-10-2014, 08:47 AM
Eh, the way people react to the word "feminism" says more about them than i does about feminism. And I'm not one to let the ignorance of others, vast majority or not, control my decisions.

Well, again, in general, I don't like labels. Since I'm never one to shrink from these discussions -- even in the face of being shouted down or demeaned for doing so -- I figure I can do my part for the cause just as well without the label.

Eric Boellner
03-10-2014, 09:32 AM
By this point in my life (late 20s) I had become numb to these types of remarks and ignored it. But what surprised me was, after the meeting, one by one, each of the other guys stopped in my office to apologize. They were genuinely disturbed and angered by what happened. A couple angry at themselves for not saying anything. It was at this moment I realized this type of behavior demeans and harms men as well as women. It chips away at our collective humanity and sense of right and wrong.

Never really thought of it that way. That's a very good point.

bmcthomas
03-10-2014, 11:15 AM
Never really thought of it that way. That's a very good point.

When we talk about rape, behind every comment like "how was she dressed" or "had she been drinking" or "why was she in his room anyway" is the presumption that men are inherently rapists, their constant desire to assault only thwarted by the vigilance of women.

When the discussion of parents working vs caring for children is framed as "the mommy wars" we devalue fathers. Why do you suppose men are seldom (if ever) asked how they juggle work and family? Because the presumption is that their presence in their child's life doesn't even matter!

We (the collective we) have these rigid definitions of what it means to be feminine, what it means to be masculine. We don't get to just be people. Interacting with other people. Without pretense, without worrying if what we do and say and think does or doesn't live up to some arbitrary rule about how we are supposed to think and feel and behave, based on what we have between our legs.

One of my daughters was told she needed to act "more feminine". I told her -- you're female. By definition, everything you do is feminine.

sc111
03-10-2014, 12:32 PM
And yet you say that women will inherently write better female characters than men, despite evidence to the contrary.

You're mischaracterizing what I said. This is what I said, Richmond:

Men can write great women characters to a point. But they're not women. And by default this impacts how they write female characters.


Let me pose it as a question: Do you think the fact that you're a man impacts how you write female characters? Yes? No?

sc111
03-10-2014, 12:37 PM
When we talk about rape, behind every comment like "how was she dressed" or "had she been drinking" or "why was she in his room anyway" is the presumption that men are inherently rapists, their constant desire to assault only thwarted by the vigilance of women.

When the discussion of parents working vs caring for children is framed as "the mommy wars" we devalue fathers. Why do you suppose men are seldom (if ever) asked how they juggle work and family? Because the presumption is that their presence in their child's life doesn't even matter!

We (the collective we) have these rigid definitions of what it means to be feminine, what it means to be masculine. We don't get to just be people. Interacting with other people. Without pretense, without worrying if what we do and say and think does or doesn't live up to some arbitrary rule about how we are supposed to think and feel and behave, based on what we have between our legs.

One of my daughters was told she needed to act "more feminine". I told her -- you're female. By definition, everything you do is feminine.

Great post. Especially the last line. I've been told on more than one occasion I write "Like a man." Then, I was in a writing workshop with a Black woman who was told by group members her work read like it was written by a White Woman.

Richmond Weems
03-10-2014, 07:26 PM
I've been told on more than one occasion I write "Like a man." Then, I was in a writing workshop with a Black woman who was told by group members her work read like it was written by a White Woman.

That's 'cause the people that said that to you (and the black lady) are idiots.

Richmond Weems
03-10-2014, 07:52 PM
You're mischaracterizing what I said. This is what I said, Richmond: "Men can write great women characters to a point. But they're not women. And by default this impacts how they write female characters."

How is what I said a mischaracterization? At what "point" does the female writer surpass the male writer in writing about a female character? You can tap dance all you want, but it's clear that you think women can write a better female character than a man. You even made mention that you could write a better female character than Jeff Lowell...simply because you're female. And it doesn't matter how many smiley faces you put on that statement.

A good writer can write a good character. Stop. Full period.

Let me pose it as a question: Do you think the fact that you're a man impacts how you write female characters? Yes? No?

The fact that I'm a human being impacts how I write female characters. I experience the same emotions as a female: grief, happiness, anger, etc. These are all universal emotions, not something to be hoarded by one gender or another. And I'm arrogant enough that I think I write pretty good male and female characters.

But it doesn't matter how I state this as your mind's as made up as mine. However, I think the evidence of male writers writing great female characters leans in my direction. I also think female writers can write great male characters, and the evidence clearly shows this, also.

odocoileus
03-10-2014, 08:56 PM
Someone's a wee bit upset. :bounce: (http://danharmon.tumblr.com/post/78195254027/mitzi-may-when-male-writers-create-strong)

nic.h
03-10-2014, 09:59 PM
Definitely need to tone this down. There's no need to get personal.

And keep it civil. (Pretty please. :))

UnequalProductions
03-11-2014, 10:48 AM
How is what I said a mischaracterization? At what "point" does the female writer surpass the male writer in writing about a female character? You can tap dance all you want, but it's clear that you think women can write a better female character than a man.

Are you really going to argue this point? I mean, I know the Jeff Lowell comment is a bit of a stretch, but if you have two screenwriters of equal caliber, one male and one female, they are going to be naturally better at writing characters their own gender. Because the man has lived as a man, and the woman has lived as a woman. I do my best to write fully fleshed out female characters, but I don't know what it's like to be catcalled from construction workers or gestate another human being inside my body.

Does that mean we shouldn't try? No. We should always be gathering information about worlds and perspectives that are not our own to add dimensions to our work.

Let's not get into arguments about which gender is better at writing what kind of characters and instead try to find out what troupes and pitfalls regularly pop up when writers attempt to create characters different from their own gender/race/background so we can work together to avoid them.

castilleja32
03-11-2014, 02:09 PM
The questions of how each gender writes characters of the same/other gender are interesting artistically but I think hard to argue definitively. There will always be men who write sympathetic women characters and women who write compelling male characters.

I think the critical point is how women are so woefully underrepresented in recent films. It can't be surprising that women (both audiences and those who work in film) are pushing back. It's just gone too far: A new study says that females comprised only 15% of protagonists in films last year. What if the numbers were reversed and men comprised only 15% of protagonists?

New study discussed on indiewire today:
http://blogs.indiewire.com/womenandhollywood/female-characters-underrepresented-onscreen

"Female characters remained dramatically under-represented as protagonists, major characters, and speaking (major and minor) characters in the top grossing films of 2013. Females comprised 15% of protagonists, 29% of major characters, and 30% of all speaking characters. Only 13% of the top 100 films featured equal numbers of major female and male characters, or more major female characters than male characters." http://womenintvfilm.sdsu.edu/files/2013_It's_a_Man's_World_Report.pdf

"But let's remember: movies with female protagonists make 20% more money. There is just a huge disconnect at work here." http://blogs.indiewire.com/womenandhollywood/suck-it-haters-female-led-films-make-more-money

wrytnow
03-11-2014, 04:30 PM
I thought I'd do something radical and go back to the op:

I've had to read a lot of spec pilots over the last month. Of the female writers I read, my estimate is that a third of the scripts (out of probably 40) -- and I'm not exaggerating -- had a variation of this same opening...

A beautiful woman wakes up in bed and hits her alarm clock -- it reads 5 AM or 6 AM. She gets out of bed, puts on her jogging shoes, puts in her ear buds... and is off for a run while her boyfriend/husband/significant other lays in bed.

She's inevitably described as "smart as she is pretty" or "former tomboy, now beautiful" or whatever variation of that.

She returns home and showers, dresses... just as her boyfriend/husband gets up groggily... they have some conversation about "hey sleepyhead" or "glad to see you're up" or what-not.

Then the woman leaves for her job as doctor/detective/fashion designer/chef -- where she talks tough or is at the top of her game...


IMO what's going on with all these scripts that irritated the OP is: women are writing idealized women the way men have always written idealized men.

The Great John Wayne hero, that tough loner fastest on the draw. Men write the men they wish they were. Women go to movies to see the men they wish they had.

But now women are writing women they wish they were and men are all going wait ... what the hell is that? I don't want that.

Ripley worked because she wasn't a female character. She was the hero everyone wants to be. You could have named her Fred and cast a guy and not changed a line.

Richmond Weems
03-11-2014, 05:04 PM
Are you really going to argue this point?

Well, yeah, I did.

And I'm not sure what I said that made this personal, nor was I upset.

sc111
03-11-2014, 05:19 PM
And I'm not sure what I said that made this personal, nor was I upset.

"You" statements make it personal.

"You can tap dance all you want..."

"And it doesn't matter how many smiley faces you put on that statement."

Plus the tone of those "you" statements make it personal.

Then there's this:

"A good writer can write a good character. Stop. Full period."

Which indicates yours is the only truth and further discussion is unnecessary. Subtext, "You're wrong. Shut up."

bmcthomas
03-11-2014, 05:21 PM
I thought I'd do something radical and go back to the op:



IMO what's going on with all these scripts that irritated the OP is: women are writing idealized women the way men have always written idealized men.

The Great John Wayne hero, that tough loner fastest on the draw. Men write the men they wish they were. Women go to movies to see the men they wish they had.

But now women are writing women they wish they were and men are all going wait ... what the hell is that? I don't want that.

Ripley worked because she wasn't a female character. She was the hero everyone wants to be. You could have named her Fred and cast a guy and not changed a line.

Maybe they're writing what they think men think is the ideal woman. Just for arguments' sake, since that's always so much fun.

Anyway, I think the original issue with the OP was that the cliches in the example given are just as likely to appear in a script written by a man. No, I don't have a study to back that up. But a quick googling of script cliches shows that "open with character waking up" and female character descriptions of "pretty and smart" are two oft committed sins against good writing, and there's no evidence that it's only female writers doing the sinning.

The thread could just have easily been called "Small note for TV writers", there was no reason to attribute these very common mistakes to women only. Or TV writers only, for that matter.

Dr. Vergerus
03-11-2014, 05:26 PM
The example from the OP isn't idealized, just trite, which was the point of this thread: to warn people against such cliches.

sc111
03-11-2014, 05:32 PM
The example from the OP isn't idealized, just trite, which was the point of this thread: to warn people against such cliches.

Since the title reads: Small Note for Women TV Writers, it seems to me the warning was reserved for women, not people, collectively.

bmcthomas
03-11-2014, 05:35 PM
Since the title reads: Small Note for Women TV Writers, it seems to me the warning was reserved for women, not people, collectively.

Maybe it's a pink Lego thing. Sure, we could just take the same advice given to boy writers, but here's some sparkly advice just for us!

Manchester
03-11-2014, 05:36 PM
You know those BBC shows in which they send someone to the US to report on "America". I assume the stories are produced for the UK audience, and yet they've played here. And, as I recall, they've done well.

Now, perhaps to some extent, they've done well because it's interesting to see how a Brit sees us. OTOH, I think they've also done well - and certainly I've liked this aspect - (a) because they often see things that we haven't noticed about ourselves, and (b) because some of those observations are startlingly (and entertainingly) correct.

I'm a white male. I happen to think that Dave Chappelle has done some great white characters. In part - at least, this is my hunch - because during some of his later growing-up years he was around lots of white people. And he observed. And to his perspective, he brought his experience as an African American, but also simply as an outsider.

I don't disagree with the general proposition that women understand their own experiences better than men understand them. But then, any writer has to put things on the page. And they have to be on the page in a way that resonates with a reader.

IOW, even if a writer writes from a very-real personal experience, she (or he, etc.) has to put things on the page - substance and presentation - in such a way that it will resonate with the reader. (And, it is hoped, resonate in the way that the writer intends; but still, it must resonate.)

It's like telling a personal problem to a friend, and then your friend says, "Here's what I think is going on...." And then you say, "Wow! You're right!" Seems to me, that's a situation of someone explaining your personal experience (to you, even) in a way that was more clear/insightful/meaningful than you'd told it yourself.

And if that has happened to you, and if, at least once, that friend happened to be of a different gender, then... Well, that's my point here.

sc111
03-11-2014, 06:06 PM
It's like telling a personal problem to a friend, and then your friend says, "Here's what I think is going on...." And then you say, "Wow! You're right!" Seems to me, that's a situation of someone explaining your personal experience (to you, even) in a way that was more clear/insightful/meaningful than you'd told it yourself.

And if that has happened to you, and if, at least once, that friend happened to be of a different gender, then... Well, that's my point here.

Let me see if I understand this point. A male writer is likely to have a clearer, more meaningful insight into female characters much in the same way Dave Chappelle, a black man, brings clearer insight into his portrayal of white people. Is this the theory?

Manchester
03-11-2014, 08:28 PM
Let me see if I understand this point. A male writer is likely to have a clearer, more meaningful insight into female characters much in the same way Dave Chappelle, a black man, brings clearer insight into his portrayal of white people. Is this the theory?
Not quite. Not "clearer". Simply, clear.

See, my POV is that there is more than one "clear" view. When I say that Dave Chappelle has a clear view, I do that without dismissing the possibility that others may also have a clear view. Perhaps you believe that if one person is commended, that thereby denigrates others.

Or, if you simply want to argue, then - Yes. I posted my post to say that Dave Chappelle's white-guy characters are "clearer" than white-guy characters written by anyone else, including those white-guy characters written by white guys. Yeh. Right. And in fact, now that I've said it, and as long as Dave Chappelle exists on this planet, there is no reason for me to even attempt to write even white-guy characters - that is, even guys of my very own race and my very own gender - because only one person can achieve clarity at any one time. And Chappelle owns it. He owns white-guy characters.

And so, all you other white guys, cease and desist. Chappelle rules!
___

Oh, and when you wrote:
Let me see if I understand this point.
And then, when you wrote what you did... It strikes me that you actually meant to say, "Let's see if I can misunderstand your point." I mean, I am of the hopeful belief that, if you tried, you could have found a way to understand what I meant. You could have found a positive meaning in it. But, you chose not to.

And I am left to wonder, based on your posts in this thread and others, whether you ever do mean, as you assert in your signature, "Che sarà, sarà".

Rather, it seems more like "Che Guevara".

Manchester
03-11-2014, 08:42 PM
It's like telling a personal problem to a friend, and then your friend says, "Here's what I think is going on...." And then you say, "Wow! You're right!" Seems to me, that's a situation of someone explaining your personal experience (to you, even) in a way that was more clear/insightful/meaningful than you'd told it yourself.

And, if that has happened to you, and if, at least once, that friend happened to be of a different gender, then... Well, that's my point here.

Let me see if I understand this point. A male writer is likely to have a clearer, more meaningful insight into female characters much in the same way Dave Chappelle, a black man, brings clearer insight into his portrayal of white people. Is this the theory?

First, what you did quote from my post doesn't say the storyteller is female and the friend is male. I stated it such that it goes either way (not that I do). And simply as an example.

And, if you wanted to comment specifically about what I'd posted about Dave Chappelle, it might have been helpful to actually QUOTE what I'd posted about Dave Chappelle.

Oh, but no.

For as it's been written...



Why do you hate cats so much, Manchester?


Che Guevara, Guevara

madworld
03-11-2014, 08:59 PM
I'd argue any great female writer can write a man as good if not better than any great male writer. I've seen it. "Romancing the Stone" was written by Diane Thomas, and Jack T. Colton is one of my favorite all-time characters. That might be my favorite movie EVER.

If you have a great male writer and a great female writer, who writes the better character? The better writer.

Is it through the lens of their own gender? Certainly. But so are a lot of things. Socioeconomic background, race, religion or lack of, taste in art, music. All of these things contribute to a writer's choices and make for a unique perspective and voice.

wrytnow
03-11-2014, 10:07 PM
The thread could just have easily been called "Small note for TV writers", there was no reason to attribute these very common mistakes to women only. Or TV writers only, for that matter.
Fair point. I'd argue just for the fun of it, but I'm feeling a bit dull.

Rantanplan
03-11-2014, 10:11 PM
Maybe someone up-thread made a good point... what's that saying about the perfect male lead, "someone men want to be and women want to f**K?"

Well maybe the perfect woman protag from a *female* writer point of view is "someone women want to be" but that sadly "men don't want to f**K." So maybe that's what's pissing off studio execs and not getting the green light.

Meh just throwing that out there. I stand by my opinion that a talented writer can make any audience believe anything about a character, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the gender of the writer might not influence the portrayal of the character. The two are not mutually exclusive imho.

I've often thought women in French flicks come across as unnecessarily hysterical --not to mention slutty. I would have to go back and study whether this is exclusively from a male point of view, but unfortunately with French filmmakers I fear it's pretty much universal.

wrytnow
03-11-2014, 10:20 PM
Or, if you simply want to argue, then - Yes. I posted my post to say that Dave Chappelle's white-guy characters are "clearer" than white-guy characters written by anyone else, including those white-guy characters written by white guys. Yeh. Right. And in fact, now that I've said it, and as long as Dave Chappelle exists on this planet, there is no reason for me to even attempt to write even white-guy characters - that is, even guys of my very own race and my very own gender - because only one person can achieve clarity at any one time. And Chappelle owns it. He owns white-guy characters.

And so, all you other white guys, cease and desist. Chappelle rules!
.
I thought you were making a good point, if I understood it.

Whoever and whatever I am, I can only express my subjective experience of myself. In order to give me to an audience, it's actually going to be more accurate to express me from the POV of someone who knows me, who gives the audience their subjective experience of me.

Because my me is the person I wish I was. Or fear I am. But not necessarily the person I am in the world.

So an objective, truth-teller (that is, a fine writer) can see people and convey what they see. They can see how others experience the person and convey that.

The writer should absent himself. Or herself. Who the writer is, is irrelevant.

wrytnow
03-11-2014, 10:26 PM
Maybe someone up-thread made a good point... what's that saying about the perfect male lead, "someone men want to be and women want to f**K?"

Well maybe the perfect woman protag from a *female* writer point of view is "someone women want to be" but that sadly "men don't want to f**K." So maybe that's what's pissing off studio execs and not getting the green light..

Yes, my point precisely. Did you ever watch Grey's Anatomy Especially the first few seasons? This woman created all these characters that are "who women want to be" (but as screwed up as I suppose women believe they are) and then created all these fantasy men that want to **** them. And marry them.

ducky1288
03-11-2014, 11:00 PM
I think we should be talking about good writers in general.

I've seen women write crappy female characters. I've seen men write crappy male characters and vice versa.

I don't know if it's a gender thing as much as it is a talent thing.

castilleja32
03-11-2014, 11:25 PM
I've often thought women in French flicks come across as unnecessarily hysterical --not to mention slutty. I would have to go back and study whether this is exclusively from a male point of view, but unfortunately with French filmmakers I fear it's pretty much universal.

It's going even further off topic here, but just wanted to respond to this. We've had TV5 Monde USA in our cable package and have watched lots of recent French movies (many of them are made for TV); we don't speak French but the movies are almost always subtitled. The women characters (often protagonists) do not seem hysterical or slutty -- actually they're very dimensional and given a wide range of characters to play in many genres, including noir takeoffs, crime films, broad comedy, etc. The production values are high, especially for the TV movies.

Your comment may apply to a few classic French films you've seen, would be interested in knowing the specific films and how you experienced them. But as a generalization, I think your comment is far from the truth and encourage you to see more recent French films.

Another surprising thing about recent French cinema is how many women are writers and directors. Very high proportion compared to US filmmaking now.

sc111
03-12-2014, 12:16 AM
Maybe it's a pink Lego thing. Sure, we could just take the same advice given to boy writers, but here's some sparkly advice just for us!

I missed this post. LOL. :)

Rantanplan
03-12-2014, 09:14 AM
It's going even further off topic here, but just wanted to respond to this. We've had TV5 Monde USA in our cable package and have watched lots of recent French movies (many of them are made for TV); we don't speak French but the movies are almost always subtitled. The women characters (often protagonists) do not seem hysterical or slutty -- actually they're very dimensional and given a wide range of characters to play in many genres, including noir takeoffs, crime films, broad comedy, etc. The production values are high, especially for the TV movies.

Your comment may apply to a few classic French films you've seen, would be interested in knowing the specific films and how you experienced them. But as a generalization, I think your comment is far from the truth and encourage you to see more recent French films.

Another surprising thing about recent French cinema is how many women are writers and directors. Very high proportion compared to US filmmaking now.

I was involved with a festival of emerging French cinema for over a decade so I've seen a lot of contemporary French flicks in my day... But you're right about there being more women filmmakers in France.

Richmond Weems
03-12-2014, 06:58 PM
I don't know if it's a gender thing as much as it is a talent thing.

Now you're just being ridiculous.

And I meant "you're" 'cause it's personal, and has nothing to do with me actually addressing you.

Wait. That last part wasn't meant to be personal. The "you" just slipped out. Apologies.

I can't help it. I'm upset.


(ok. i'll stop now.)

JeffLowell
03-13-2014, 03:50 AM
Maybe it's a pink Lego thing. Sure, we could just take the same advice given to boy writers, but here's some sparkly advice just for us!

How do you feel about organizations like Women In Film?

bmcthomas
03-13-2014, 09:36 AM
How do you feel about organizations like Women In Film?

You don't understand the Lego analogy.

A pink Lego is identical in every way to blue, red, yellow, green, black etc. Lego.

Pink Lego does not serve a need that is unique to females who are playing with Lego (i.e. females do not need pink Lego bricks to build things). It doesn't provide any benefit specific to females who are playing with Lego. (i.e. pink Lego bricks function identically in male or female hands).

It is simply a product that is designated "for females". In this case, by virtue of its color, because we now associate pink with female. (Even though pink used to be considered a masculine color, but that's another story.)

The advice given in the OP is identical to advice given to writers in general. It does not serve a need unique to female writers (i.e. it is not only female writers who use these cliches) and it does not provide any benefit specific to female writers (i.e. male writers would also benefit from avoiding these cliches).

It is simply advice designated "for women" because the thread title says so.

Organizations like Women in Film do serve needs specific to women in the industry and do provide benefits unique to women, so they are not comparable to pink Lego.

emily blake
03-13-2014, 10:02 AM
When I was a kid, my parents bought me a tool kit with a hammer and a glue gun and screwdrivers and stuff. The kit was called "Fix It Herself" and it was special tools for girls. At the time I was just like "Cool! Tools!" but the older I got, the more I was like "Why the hell do I need special girlie tools?" The screwdrivers were normal, gray screwdrivers, so why did they need to be for girls?

Once, I went on Amazon and started looking for toys to buy a friend's kid. I looked at toys aimed at girls, and out of curiosity I started looking for the section for boys. The toys were almost the same in most categories; the only difference is that the boys had more of them to choose from. The girl list wasn't different - it was just shorter.

Until you got to the dolls. There was no boy's section. All the dolls were specifically listed for girls.

I just found that all very interesting.

I don't like pink all that much. I want to play with the blue Legos.

sc111
03-13-2014, 10:18 AM
You don't understand the Lego analogy.

A pink Lego is identical in every way to blue, red, yellow, green, black etc. Lego.

Pink Lego does not serve a need that is unique to females who are playing with Lego (i.e. females do not need pink Lego bricks to build things). It doesn't provide any benefit specific to females who are playing with Lego. (i.e. pink Lego bricks function identically in male or female hands).

It is simply a product that is designated "for females". In this case, by virtue of its color, because we now associate pink with female. (Even though pink used to be considered a masculine color, but that's another story.)

The advice given in the OP is identical to advice given to writers in general. It does not serve a need unique to female writers (i.e. it is not only female writers who use these cliches) and it does not provide any benefit specific to female writers (i.e. male writers would also benefit from avoiding these cliches).

It is simply advice designated "for women" because the thread title says so.

Organizations like Women in Film do serve needs specific to women in the industry and do provide benefits unique to women, so they are not comparable to pink Lego.

Brilliant.

wrytnow
03-13-2014, 10:44 AM
The advice given in the OP is identical to advice given to writers in general. It does not serve a need unique to female writers (i.e. it is not only female writers who use these cliches) .

Unless we do a study, we won't know if this is factual, but according to the OP, you are wrong:

I've had to read a lot of spec pilots over the last month. Of the female writers I read, my estimate is that a third of the scripts (out of probably 40) -- and I'm not exaggerating -- had a variation of this same opening...

A beautiful woman wakes up in bed and hits her alarm clock -- it reads 5 AM or 6 AM. She gets out of bed, puts on her jogging shoes, puts in her ear buds... and is off for a run while her boyfriend/husband/significant other lays in bed.

She's inevitably described as "smart as she is pretty" or "former tomboy, now beautiful" or whatever variation of that.

She returns home and showers, dresses... just as her boyfriend/husband gets up groggily... they have some conversation about "hey sleepyhead" or "glad to see you're up" or what-not.

Then the woman leaves for her job as doctor/detective/fashion designer/chef -- where she talks tough or is at the top of her game...


I see nothing to support your contention that 25-30% of scripts written by men would have a variation of this same opening. Or any, for that matter. I'm not even sure why there is a debate here. When a reader takes the time to post a note, it makes sense to take it to heart.

Dr. Vergerus
03-13-2014, 11:37 AM
I've had to read a lot of spec pilots over the last month. Of the female writers I read, my estimate is that a third of the scripts (out of probably 40) -- and I'm not exaggerating -- had a variation of this same opening...

A beautiful woman wakes up in bed and hits her alarm clock -- it reads 5 AM or 6 AM. She gets out of bed, puts on her jogging shoes, puts in her ear buds... and is off for a run while her boyfriend/husband/significant other lays in bed.

She's inevitably described as "smart as she is pretty" or "former tomboy, now beautiful" or whatever variation of that.

She returns home and showers, dresses... just as her boyfriend/husband gets up groggily... they have some conversation about "hey sleepyhead" or "glad to see you're up" or what-not.

Then the woman leaves for her job as doctor/detective/fashion designer/chef -- where she talks tough or is at the top of her game...


A third of the scripts started this way... at least 10, maybe 12... these are repped writers.

I'm telling you right now... don't start this way. It's so refreshing to see a woman writer who doesn't have a woman as the main character, I can't even tell you.

Anyway, that's an observation.

Read the OP. His advice, although valid for any writer, is directed at female screenwriters because that's a trend he's identified in scripts by female screenwriters.

This isn't about pink Legos. This isn't about fighting the gender fight in a message board. This is a professional writer and show creator who's read a lot of specs to staff his series and found out that many female screenwriters indulge in this particular cliched opening.

Now you can agree or disagree about his opinion on stories written by women with women as protagonists (I disagree), but the kind of opening he describes is hardly interesting. That's what the OP is about.

Y'all minorities do what you want. I'm a white male; the world is my oyster.

And, by the way, I love pink.

Manchester
03-13-2014, 12:09 PM
How do you feel about organizations like Women In Film?

You don't understand the Lego analogy.

A pink Lego is identical in every way to blue, red, yellow, green, black etc. Lego.

Pink Lego does not serve a need that is unique to females who are playing with Lego (i.e. females do not need pink Lego bricks to build things). It doesn't provide any benefit specific to females who are playing with Lego. (i.e. pink Lego bricks function identically in male or female hands).

It is simply a product that is designated "for females". In this case, by virtue of its color, because we now associate pink with female. (Even though pink used to be considered a masculine color, but that's another story.)

The advice given in the OP is identical to advice given to writers in general. It does not serve a need unique to female writers (i.e. it is not only female writers who use these cliches) and it does not provide any benefit specific to female writers (i.e. male writers would also benefit from avoiding these cliches).

It is simply advice designated "for women" because the thread title says so.

Organizations like Women in Film do serve needs specific to women in the industry and do provide benefits unique to women, so they are not comparable to pink Lego.
But what if Derek Haas had simply appeared at a "Women TV Writers" group event and said those very same things? Wouldn't his words to the group have intrinsically been a "Small Note for Women TV Writers", whereas here they are that, but with an explicit label at the top? And it's that label that set things off?

Note: At the end of his initial post, he wrote "Anyway, that's an observation." And, indeed, that is what his top post was.

Maybe if he had simply labeled this thread, "Small Note to Women TV Writers".

___

Che Guevara, Guevara

sc111
03-13-2014, 12:26 PM
Read the OP. His advice, although valid for any writer, is directed at female screenwriters because that's a trend he's identified in scripts by female screenwriters.


First of all, with a small sampling of only 40 scripts can one really extrapolate this "weakness" in one-third of them constitutes a "trend" exclusive to women writers?

As for the gender thing, please try this: replace "women" with another minority in the film industry:

Title it Small Note For African-American Writers

... then focus on trite openings in 13 out of 40 scripts written by African-American writers more than implying it's a weakness among all African-American writers.

... then close by saying, "It's so refreshing to see an African-American writer who doesn't have an African-American as the main character, I can't even tell you."

How's that sound to you?

bmcthomas
03-13-2014, 12:47 PM
Unless we do a study, we won't know if this is factual, but according to the OP, you are wrong:



I see nothing to support your contention that 25-30% of scripts written by men would have a variation of this same opening. Or any, for that matter. I'm not even sure why there is a debate here. When a reader takes the time to post a note, it makes sense to take it to heart.

I don't need a study. What supports my contention that lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of writers start their scripts with the cliched opening of the protagonist waking up in bed is a Google search.

Derek Haas, talented and insightful though he may be, is not the first person to notice that opening with your protagonist waking up is trite.

http://2012.scriptfrenzy.org/node/2003510
http://www.bang2write.com/2013/05/how-to-write-the-most-cliched-script-opener-ever.html
http://chasharrisfootloose.wordpress.com/2014/01/18/top-5-screenwriting-cliches-of-the-year-awards/
http://www.writersdigest.com/tip-of-the-day/12-cliches-to-avoid-when-beginning-your-story
http://livingromcom.typepad.com/my_weblog/2010/04/10-screenwriting-clich%C3%A9s-that-refuse-to-die.html
http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-level/havent-written-anything-yet/5-wrong-ways-to-start-a-story
http://untshortfilmclub.com/post/35819311082

Those are just a few. The cliche was mentioned in a ScriptNotes podcast too, at least one, but I'm too lazy to look it up.

None of these linked articles address women. None of them say "This is a problem in scripts written by women." When Billy Mernit says "Protagonist Waking Up" used to be the worst screenplay opening in the world he doesn't add "written by women." They don't single out TV writers either. Or scripts, for that matter. Some of those links discuss novel openings.

It appears to be a universal truth that in any form of storytelling, opening with your protagonist waking up is something to avoid.

Now, it could certainly be possible that no male writer in the history of the written word has ever done this - and this cliche managed to become a cliche solely through the misguided efforts of female writers.

But lots of things are possible. Doesn't make them probable.

Manchester
03-13-2014, 12:49 PM
First of all, with a small sampling of only 40 scripts can one really extrapolate this "weakness" in one-third of them constitutes a "trend" exclusive to women writers?

As for the gender thing, please try this: replace "women" with another minority in the film industry:

Title it Small Note For African-American Writers

... then focus on trite openings in 13 out of 40 scripts written by African-American writers more than implying it's a weakness among all African-American writers.

... then close by saying, "It's so refreshing to see an African-American writer who doesn't have an African-American as the main character, I can't even tell you."

How's that sound to you?
Except, he didn't imply that at all.

___

Che Guevara, Guevara

Dr. Vergerus
03-13-2014, 01:23 PM
If the OP was written by Jessica Haas there would be no issue, most likely.

sc111
03-13-2014, 01:30 PM
If the OP was written by Jessica Haas there would be no issue, most likely.

Unlikely.

JeffLowell
03-13-2014, 01:36 PM
Organizations like Women in Film do serve needs specific to women in the industry and do provide benefits unique to women, so they are not comparable to pink Lego.

Like what?

Manchester
03-13-2014, 03:10 PM
If the OP was written by Jessica Haas there would be no issue, most likely.
Unlikely.
Are you agreeing with him or disagreeing?

emily blake
03-13-2014, 04:43 PM
I don't understand why this is so difficult.

Derek's advice is good, right? We can all agree on this?

But maybe - just MAYBE, gentlemen - he should have aimed his advice at everyone, not just at women. Hey, maybe he could have said "This is something I see frequently with female writers, especially." And you know what? That would probably have been okay. It wouldn't have implied that this is just a lady problem and the men are immune.

He never mentioned in his original post whether or not he ever saw a male writer open with a character waking up. I bet he has.

And the comment about how refreshing it is to see women writing men - I can't imagine why anyone would defend that.

I respect Derek, but in this case, his wording was not the best. The point is - hey, EVERYBODY, don't open with your character waking up unless you bring something fresh to the scene.

Can we all agree to that? Male, female, transgendered? No matter what's between your legs, try to find an original way to start your story.

And if you want to give advice to young writers, maybe don't suggest to a group of writers who already feel insecure about their gender in the boy's club that is this business, that they marginalize themselves further.

Everything else is just noise.

wrytnow
03-13-2014, 05:15 PM
I don't need a study. What supports my contention that lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of writers start their scripts with the cliched opening of the protagonist waking up in bed is a Google search.

The protagonist waking up in bed is not the point at all. It didn't matter where she woke up, the issue is the highly idealized, perfect, Alpha female. The guy lazes around in bed while she not only brings home the bacon, she raises the prize hogs and butchers them herself while performing brain surgery and turning heads with her lithe figure amazing us with her intelligence.

wrytnow
03-13-2014, 05:16 PM
Except, he didn't imply that at all.

___

Che Guevara, Guevara

No, he didn't.

wrytnow
03-13-2014, 05:18 PM
And if you want to give advice to young writers, maybe don't suggest to a group of writers who already feel insecure about their gender in the boy's club that is this business, that they marginalize themselves further.



You didn't mean "feel insecure about their gender," right? You meant something like "feel insecure about their position because of their gender."

figment
03-13-2014, 05:29 PM
And the comment about how refreshing it is to see women writing men - I can't imagine why anyone would defend that.



I think we're forgetting that this observation was made concerning a specific writing job opening.

Why would a woman submitting a writing sample for a job in which 90 percent (if not more) of the characters are men, think it was a terrific idea to submit a sample showcasing a female main character(s)?

Good writing is good writing, certainly. But if you were a show runner, wouldn't you naturally lean more toward characters that you could envision actually being on the show you run?

James B
03-13-2014, 10:36 PM
At the risk of jumping back in, I'll throw out this word: unpacking.

From my time in it, life in TV is big and busy, with so many entities and players whizzing points by you in the crunch of time, that besides writing, how you digest information and make it useful can be equally crucial. It's a practicality thing.

To that end, as far as I know, Derek Haas didn't post on some mythical snarky blog, he posted here. In the heat of battle. To help. As I assume, he has many times in the past. Did he reveal any biases in the process? Superficially, perhaps. But he didn't do a deep dig on the topic. And he's one guy, in one situation. His statements wouldn't all apply equally at say, Lifetime, or many other places, so it's possible to put them in perspective, maybe.

But, if I unpack what he said in the bigger TV sense, there's something important here about the starting point for a series lead, which is linked to a trend I think that goes back to at least I don't know, Colombo? The old book term for it is maybe "flawed protagonist," but in practice, it's about a dual-layering that's dominant in modern narratives - "professional battles versus personal battles" and such. Just look at the descriptions for pilots in development this season.

It's practical. Especially in drama. Having both layers makes it easier for a writer to fill pages, lends complexity to a series and frankly, the audience seems to have gotten bored with characters who have their personal stuff together at the outset, as character arcs have become more popular. That's a craft savvy thing or lack thereof, that it's possible Haas is reacting to, as well. If your character is perfect in the personal life department right off the bat, this notion may seem off the table, and out of sync with where series storytelling is going. Male writers emulating series written by males who've already been noted to death about this may be inadvertently dodging this particular bullet. Female writers, who are more blazing their own trail at this stage, might not as much.

Who knows? The original post wasn't scientific. But perhaps did point to something valuable.

emily blake
03-13-2014, 11:45 PM
I give up.

wrytnow
03-14-2014, 12:24 AM
It's practical.

Yup.

sc111
03-14-2014, 11:18 AM
I think we're forgetting that this observation was made concerning a specific writing job opening.

Why would a woman submitting a writing sample for a job in which 90 percent (if not more) of the characters are men, think it was a terrific idea to submit a sample showcasing a female main character(s)?

Good writing is good writing, certainly. But if you were a show runner, wouldn't you naturally lean more toward characters that you could envision actually being on the show you run?

I believe writers' reps send the scripts in for the show runner's consideration, don't they? If your rep said they were putting you up for a staff TV job, would you say, no, because the show's cast is 90% male? Or 90% female?

Perhaps it's better to question why 12 or 13 reps thought it was a good idea to send Derek scripts with women characters who seem like they're from an old 70s, "You've Come A Long Way, Baby," cigarette commercial.

I believe I know why a percentage of women write these types of characters but that's another topic. I'd like to know why reps and execs are promoting these unrealistic characters? Why do these characters appeal to them?