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Manohla Dargis on the Perks of Being a Male Director

Manohla Dargis on the Perks of Being a Male Director

Film critic Manohla Dargis continues her efforts to lay bare studio filmmaking’s institutional sexism
In her review of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, published last week, she wrote in The New York Times of the movie’s directors:

The Russos have directed a few other movies, including Welcome to Collinwood (2002), a redo of the 1958 Italian satire Big Deal on Madonna Street that was produced by Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney. That movie didn’t go anywhere, but, having been put on the industry map with that kind of patronage, it’s no surprise that the brothers went on to have a busy decade in television, working as directors and sometimes executive producers for the smart sitcom likes of Arrested Development and Community. In between, they also directed another movie, You, Me and Dupree. It was a dud, but it didn’t matter. In the magical world of big-screen entertainment, some guys get all the breaks and also the keys to the studio gate, meaning a franchise like this.

Not to take anything away from Anthony and Joe Russo, but Dargis points precisely to the privileges many male directors enjoy that their female counterparts do not. Namely, advocates at the top of the food pyramid, TV work to sustain them between film gigs, and most importantly, virtual immunity from past critical or commercial failures. These perks add up to professional and financial circumstances that afford male directors a second, third, and fourth step on their career ladders. 

Dargis has pointed the gender discrimination in favor of male directors before, such as this gem of an insight last year: “The great irony is that women are accused of making romantic comedies, as if it’s a bad thing, but [(500) Days of Summer director] Marc Webb makes a romantic comedy and he gets Spider-Man [as his next project]. Are you kidding me? You cannot win.”

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