Twenty years after activist-artists Guerrilla Girls papered film festivals and billboards in protest over a lack of female film directors, the group is back to remind show business that shockingly little has changed.
In 1999, the group spread a simple bumper sticker message saying, “the U.S. Senate is more progressive than Hollywood,” noting that women comprised 9% of American senators but only 4% of directors to have worked on the top 100 films that year. Today, the group has a new message: “Hollywood is still worse,” a new sign reads, with stats that now 25% of U.S. senators are women while they only directed 4% of the top movies last year.
The new campaign, rolling out on social media, is co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, headed by Dr. Martha Lauzen at San Diego State University. Lauzen publishes an annual survey of women’s behind-the-scenes employment in major studio films.
“The intent of the campaign is to illustrate that 20 years later, the film industry continues to lag behind even our most staid political institutions,” said Lauzen. “The side-by-side comparison offers a way of conceptualizing how little Hollywood has changed over the last two decades.”
The latest Celluloid Ceiling report surveyed the top 250 films to open at the domestic box office. Last year, only 1% of films employed 10 or more women in behind-the-scenes jobs. In contrast, 74% of films employed 10 or more men in those roles. Women accounted for 8% of directors working on the top 250 films in 2018, down 3 percentage points from 11% in 2017. This is 1 percentage point below the 9% achieved in 1998.
Founded in 1985, the Guerrilla Girls use “facts, humor, and arresting visuals” to point out ongoing gender inequities in politics, film, art, and popular culture, the group said.