Congratulations on the huge box-office success of “Jurassic World” this summer. It must feel good to be the king of the world. Interestingly, while you said several months ago that you wouldn’t be back to direct the next Jurassic film because you were next looking to do something original, you clearly changed your mind when approached to direct the next “Star Wars” film.
I don’t blame you. The lure of a “Star Wars” film is hard to resist.
It seems like you’ve had a tough summer on the gender front. First, there were your controversial statements about Bryce Dallas Howard’s heels in “Jurassic World,” how you justified her character running for her life in heels throughout the movie. That’s just what she wore to work that day, you said, so of course, it makes perfect sense that she would spend the movie in said shoes. Sure. Whatever.
Then over the weekend, you tweeted that the reason why women directors don’t get studio jobs is that they just aren’t interested. “It hurts my feelings when I’m used as an example of white, male privilege,” you added.
I am sorry that your feelings were hurt because you were used as an example of male privilege, but you are. And you’ve done yourself no favors in how you talk about the issue.
See, you need to understand that women — especially women who have ambition and want to direct the types of movies that you have had the opportunity to direct — get a bit sensitive when a guy like yourself gets plucked by the likes of Steven Spielberg to direct the next “Jurassic Park” movie, then by the likes of Brad Bird, who told producer and Amblin co-founder Kathleen Kennedy to hire you for “Star Wars” because you remind him of his younger self.
You see, your female peers who, yes, have ambition and drive and desire, don’t get that opportunity. ‘Cause quite frankly, there are no women directors with the clout of a Spielberg or a Bird who can make that call. That’s what we call male privilege. And the fairy dust of that male privilege is all over you.
I take issue when you say that women directors are being “offered these kinds of movies, but they’re choosing not to make them.” Name me the women directors who have been offered “Jurassic World” or a “Star Wars” franchise movie. I think you are just plain wrong.
I also think that you live in a special place for special people we women call Hollywood, where you can honestly say and believe that you think a filmmaker of any gender with the “desire and ability to make a studio blockbuster will be given an opportunity to make their case.” By making their case, do you mean getting an opportunity to sit in the room to pitch your vision for a blockbuster? I’d love for every woman who has been given the opportunity to make that pitch to send me a tweet (@melsil). I’m pretty sure it will be a short list.
By the way, did you know that women, according the latest research from the Media, Diversity and Social Change (MDSC) Initiative at USC said that only 1.9% of the top 100 grossing films in 2014 were directed by women?
I believe you do know several women directors who actually are uninterested in directing a studio pic, as you say, but anecdotes and one person’s experience don’t tell the whole story. Not to mention how you’re repeating and perpetuating gender stereotypes about Hollywood that women have been fighting for decades. You should take a look at the MDSC’s research from earlier this year that talks about how gender stereotypes, like the belief that women lack ambition, have held female creatives back.
I believe that you have an opportunity to actually learn from this. Go and meet some women directors who have the same ambitions and desires that you do. Go to a women’s steering committee meeting at the DGA and listen to how they can’t get in the door. Go to a Film Fatales meet-up and learn how they are making their own movies because they won’t take no for an answer.
I don’t think you are a bad person. I just think you live in a world where you don’t understand all the challenges women face. This is your chance to become a person who helps make things better. If you continue on this success trajectory, you will have the opportunities to help others come up the ladder. You can help people understand why we need a variety of voices at all levels of the business.