Culture Beat / May 17, 2016

Hollywood: 'Empowering' Women Through Nudity

Why is leftist Hollywood so dang sexist?

Why is leftist Hollywood so darn sexist? While she was attending the Cannes Film Festival, Susan Sarandon — actress of “Thelma and Louise” fame — declared that Hollywood elites have become sexist and unoriginal. “Thelma and Louise” was a 1991 crime drama that supposedly represents the pinnacle of feminism, and Sarandon doesn’t think it’s something that could be made into today’s Hollywood. “I don’t think the studios have fallen off their horse and had some kind of epiphany about women in film,” Sarandon said. “After ‘Thelma and Louise,’ they predicted there would be so many films starring women. That really made a lot of money. But it didn’t happen.”

Sarandon had a theory for why this is: Hollywood fat cats are mostly men and they are less willing to put down money for a film with a woman playing a leading role. Evidently she’s missed out on “Hunger Games.” And so much for the Bechdel test. Sarandon continued, “I think it’s a cultural thing, and that’s part of what slows it down: a lack of imagination on the part of men.”

At least one move by CBS suggests that theory is at least partly true. Over the weekend, the television network received the ire of feminists because it declined to pick up “Drew,” a modern take on the Nancy Drew mystery series. The network says the show’s audience “skewed too female.” The show was going to be all social justice warriory, too, what with the actress set to play Drew being Sharah Shanhi, a Spanish-Iranian American. But maybe feminists were too quick to judge. “Drew” wasn’t good for CBS’s bottom line, but it’s shopping the pilot around.

But there is one thing that’s great for the bottom line, something even the most imaginatively challenged Hollywood exec can grasp: the female anatomy. And that brings us to HBO’s hit “Game of Thrones.” Last episode — spoiler alert — Emilia Clarke, the actress who plays Daenerys Targaryen, bared all in a scene where she burns alive a would-be rapist. Clarke said the scene made her feel powerful, “all me, all proud, all strong.” We’re at a point where the large media companies that tell this culture’s biggest stories are hesitant to cast a woman in a leading role, yet everyone feels empowered when those actresses — who are of a sufficiently youthful age and physical appearance — bare a little (or a lot of) skin.

Which brings us back to Sarandon, who stared in a 1978 movie called “Pretty Baby,” in which both she and 12-year-old Brooke Shields appear naked. Was that empowering women?

If objectifying women in such a way isn’t sexist and misogynist, we don’t know what is.

(Updated.)

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