Last month, “Game of Thrones” star Maisie Williams declared, “It’s time for society to stop telling girls what they should and shouldn’t do.” In a new interview with the Evening Standard, the actress is speaking up for girls and women once again, criticizing the film and TV industries for largely failing to offer role models for girls and continuing to define female characters by their appearance.
“There are a lot of roles that come in that are ‘the girlfriend’ or ‘the hot piece’ in a movie or TV series,” Williams explained. “That’s something I’ve seen first-hand and read all the time.” The teen described the dramatically different types of character synopses for men and women: “It will say ‘Derek: intelligent, good with kids, funny, really good at this’ and then it will say ‘Sandra: hot in a sort of cute way’ — and that’s all you get. That’s the way your character is described, so going into an audition you are channeing ‘hot’, which isn’t like a person, that’s not who a person is.”
Wiliams is spot-on about the outrageously sexist characters routinely offered to actresses. But her solution — for women to stop playing them so “they’ll stop being written” — isn’t exactly reality-based. It’s not as though an abundance of roles are available to actresses, never mind well-developed ones. In the top 100 grossing films of 2014, females accounted for only 12% of protagonists, 29% of major characters and 30% of all speaking characters. So we don’t think its fair to put the burden of responsibility on actresses when they have so few opportunities in the first place. The rent’s gotta be paid somehow.
Hell, even Sandra Bullock, an Oscar winner and bona fide movie star who likely has access to the best scripts that Hollywood has to offer, was so unenthusiastic about what she was reading that she resorted to asking around, “Are there any male roles out there that [the filmmakers] don’t mind switching to female?” That’s the origin story for Bullock’s starring role in the upcoming “Our Brand is Crisis,” which was originally written for George Clooney. With this climate in mind, it’s difficult to begrudge actresses who are willing to play characters that are defined by being “hot in a sort of cute way” — in all likelihood, they aren’t getting any other offers.
We share Williams’ frustration about female characters who are defined by their looks, but believe the solution to the problem is to greenlight scripts with nuanced female characters (and avoid placing blame on women who resort to playing them).
[via The Guardian]