Geena Davis has long cited statistics showing that the ratio of male to female characters in film hasn’t changed since the 1940s, but she does see signs that things are changing.
Davis is the co-founder of the Bentonville Film Festival, taking place this week from May 2-7, which focuses on women, diversity and inclusion, and created the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. Their most recent research shows that male characters received two times the amount of screen time as female characters, and the gender gap is even wider when the lead is a male.
“So far we cannot measure an improvement, but we have so much anecdotal evidence that our message is getting through that I feel very confident predicting that within five or ten years we will see some dramatic change in how female characters are represented,” Davis tells Variety‘s “PopPolitics” on SiriusXM. She added that the anecdotal evidence is the case “at least in children’s films because the people in children’s entertainment really care about kids and want to do right by them. It is simply a matter of unconscious bias coming into play. Once they hear the numbers, most people are very eager to make the change.” Other movies, like “Hidden Figures,” also have highlighted women professionals and their groundbreaking impact on science and technology.
The festival this year will mark the 25th anniversary of “A League of Their Own” with a reunion game, and will feature panels such as “Inclusion: Does That Mean Me?” and “Hollywood Is Not Your Price Charming.”
The MTV Movie Awards this year are going gender neutral, and combining what have in the past been actor and actress categories. Davis, however, does not think that is necessarily a good idea for the Oscars.
JFK at 100
Stephen Kennedy Smith, the nephew of John F. Kennedy, and historian Douglas Brinkley, talk about their new book tied to the centennial of JFK, “JFK: A Vision for America.” This week, the Smithsonian American Art Museum opens “American Visionary: John F. Kennedy’s Life and Times,” featuring 77 images from the John F. Kennedy Library and other archives.
Brinkley and Smith talk about Kennedy’s legacy, and whether it is under threat. President Trump’s administration has proposed cuts to the arts and sciences.
“PopPolitics,” hosted by Variety’s Ted Johnson, airs on Thursdays from 2-3 pm ET/11 a.m.-noon PT on SiriusXM’s political channel POTUS. It also is available on demand.