Friday, 11 May 2012

Double Standards

Casting call: "1 actor preferably with experience working in films. 1 actress preferably curvaceous & attractive."

If an alien landed in my garden and asked what the world ofacting is like here on Earth, I’d show him that. And if he was unable to read English then I’d read it out to him. And if he didn’t understand English in any form then I’d show him a picture of Jonah Hill next to Megan Fox. Add to this the dent in the wall where I’m constantly banging my head against it in frustration and then he’d finally understand. He’d understand because the despair in my eyes and the whacking great bruise on my head would tell him what a sorry situation we’ve got ourselves in.

Now I know that guys get asked to be attractive in castings too. I know the industry also puts pressure on them to be fit and healthy and bloody gorgeous but I think even blokes who act would agree that the pressure on women is far worse. Take the above casting call as a soul-crushing example.A guy can get away with just having a bit of experience. That’s great. He’s worked hard and now his experience is being taken into account. Bloody marvellous. But our actress? No one gives a toss about how much work she has done or how much time she has spent developing her craft, as long as she’s gota good little figure and a pretty face, she’s got the job. It’s demeaning and upsetting and one of the key aspects that makes me hate my job.

I realise I’m not breaking any ground by saying that sex sells. Since the world of advertising realised that we like a girl with a cute face sells products more than a rat in a wig, being attractive has become more important than working out whether the chicken or the egg turned up to the party first. I realise it’s also not a new problem in the world of acting as our cinema screens have always been awash with beautiful leading men and ladies. But when you see a casting like the one above then you know that something has gone horribly wrong. 

If you don’t see castings regularly then you may or may not be amazed at just how many female roles ask for the actress to be ‘attractive’‘pretty’ or ‘slim.’ Even worse, the castings usually ask for all these things. Because so many writers think they can only write female parts who are prostitutes, strippers or femme fatales, we get sadly stuck with an endless stream of job srequiring us to be thin and beautiful. But it’s not just one sector that’s asking this of us. From unimaginative writers right at the bottom of the ladder to highflying execs who are casting for the next big feature film, they all ask for breathtakingly gorgeous ladies. It has given the industry a horrible aura of inevitability around it. You can guarantee that pretty much every job will contain more male roles than female and you can now usually bet a fair amountof money on the fact that the scant female parts that there are, most if notall, will involve the woman being good looking or naked. While the men get away with interesting characters and intriguing back stories, the women are just chucked in with a skimpy bra and a slick of red lipstick. 

I know I whinged on about this in a very similar fashion earlierin the week but I hope you’ll forgive me for repeating myself. And if you can’t forgive me, any chance you know the number of a good plastic surgeon?


  1. Feel obliged to point out that the only curves Keira has are her cheekbones...

    Otherwise, yes indeed. There's a piece of artwork going around lampooning the Avengers publicity material, supposedly because the Black Widow is sticking her behind out in the picture, and the men are not. Actually the image isn't that bad; what bothers me about it is there's only one woman and she's stuck at the back. That's kind of what superhero films do, too much of the time. We're still waiting for Wonder Woman... (link to the original, not the lampoon)

    (To be fair, they are mostly following the Avengers line-up in the comics, and are obviously also somewhat restricted by which characters have had movies of their own, (and it Joss Whedon has clearly made an effort to up the interesting-female quotient) but if they're going to introduce a new character - even via a Thor cameo - why not Scarlet Witch rather than Hawkeye..?)

  2. I completely agree, and don't get me started on panto where even the female roles are played by men!!

    This comment is only anonymous coz I don't have an account.

    Eve RM

  3. You forgot the cute, petite, innocent girl-next-door in your list of unimaginative female characters regularly seen in castings. Aargh.