If Hollywood is going to change, we need to be the change.
I run a network for survivors of domestic violence, and I can tell you that, as is the case with domestic violence, there is no single solution to the sexism that is crippling Hollywood.
We need to raise a generation of female leaders and give them cash to spend on films; we need to hire the assault victims and the female professionals who aren’t getting proper support from their agents; and we need equal pay.
We need the companies to draft harassment rules with teeth, and execute them; we need oversight and external audits; we need to eliminate any contract or agreement with illegal language that silences employees; we need HR departments that protect their employees; we need to end the era of abusive directors, and department heads who don’t protect their employees on set.
We need an end to “hotel auditions” and “massage auditions” and “bikini auditions”; we need to end the “soft blacklist” against women who are “outspoken”; we need a harassment hotline that hooks up to counselors and pro bono lawyers; we need agents who actually fight for their clients when they are mistreated; we need to protect kids on-set; we need to hunt down the staffers who enable the rapists and the guys look the other way and laugh at the rapists’ sexist jokes.
We need to help women to know the law, know their rights, and file complaints; we need to help them be strong and deal with PTSD and depression.
We need to see a rapist go to jail. Not a golden parachute and “rehab” in a five-star hotel. Jail.
And we need to retire, forever, the word “f***able” as a way to measure the worth of women and girls; let’s remember that the most dazzling actress right now is a bald twelve-year-old child whose only true love is Eggos.
Above all, it is time to tell STORIES ABOUT WOMEN.
Women and girls both.
Even as the studios crank out one male-dominated action flop after another, clever observers have noticed that women are driving the box office toward performers like Emma Watson and Gal Gadot.
Sexism is both morally repellent and bad for business.
So once again I will say what I’ve been saying for years now: stories about women are the shape of things to come.
Girls like my daughters need to see themselves on the screen, in stories like these:
• Monteggia Fracture: a mom named Lia builds an underground railroad for battered women, until her own husband begins to hunt her down. Major acting challenge for the female lead.
• Ararat: a mysterious girl helps to heal traumatized children who survived the Russian front in WWII, and to protect them from the Russian army. A very strong, emotionally powerful story, loaded with roles for girls and women.
• Sledgehammers and Dynamite: a daredevil reporter named Nellie Bly essentially invents journalism as we know it, and almost gets killed a dozen times in the process, while battling incessant sexism. True story. Star-making role for the lead.
• The Man Who Built Chicago: an African-American mom named Sadie saves her children during a Mississippi flood and takes part in a battle of wills between blacks and whites – which the blacks won. Mostly true story.
• Man On A Train: the target of a “manhunt” turns out to be a mom named Rory, who is fleeing for her life because she has information that can bring down the Chicago Mafia. A noir piece.
• The Sun and the Stars: a Mexican girl named Sofia talks her way into a job as a federal marshal, wins a frightening range war against a rich rancher, and falls for the local sheriff, who is married. Bittersweet love story.
• Queen of Sodom: a preacher’s daughter named Ivy helps mobsters to open a gay speakeasy in a tense Kentucky town. She is supported by two very funny teenage lesbians.
• Penny: a woman builds a business helping horny teenagers skirt the law and elope, and becomes a grandmother. Based on real events. It’s pure fun, a romcom told at top speed.
• Exit, Pursued By A Harpy: a schizophrenic girl named Vergil goes to the big city – without her medication -- to find a lost mental patient. Wicked acting challenge for the lead.
• Spanner Head, a fun sci-fi, in which an Asian girl with a prosthetic leg defies the dictator of Mars and is soon fleeing across the solar system with a hundred ships chasing her.
In these stories we see women and girls battling rape, domestic violence, discrimination, racism, harassment, controlling parents, homophobia.
We see girls ranging down to seven years old and women up into the seventies.
A pile of stories that all pass the Bechdel test, as women tackle life’s battles together.
Women and girls who need to be played by actresses chosen for their talent, not their dress size.
Women who don’t build their lives around men.
Women who move beyond the male tradition of strength, and unleash new power of their own.
And I’m looking for women who want to help tell these stories, because I’m a guy.
If anyone wants to steal 80 to 100 ideas for improving Hollywood, check out https://savehollywoodblog.wordpress.com .
If anyone wants to see more about the ten stories listed above, check out https://threewibbes.wordpress.com .