The Portrayal of Women in The Entertainment Industry: Past and Present

History is an interesting topic. It lets us delve upon and reflect on who we are and how we have changed over the years. When we take a look into the past, a lot of significant changes have taken place. The world has survived great wars, dictators, several natural calamities like floods, cyclones and earthquakes. Human beings have undergone changes too. If you take a look at how humans were, what we ate, what we wore, how we spoke – you will see that nothing is the same. But one thing that is still fighting its way out into this new world is the stand of women in society. The “weaker” sex, as they are often referred to, have already proved to the world that they can handle the same jobs and responsibilities as the men. So, what is it that stops them from getting the same stand as the men in society? 


“Women have ideas and, to put those ideas into action, they need a seat at the table,” was a strong message given by actress Frances McDormand during her Oscar acceptance speech for Best Actress on March 5, 2018, at the Oscars. The black lady who should represent the power ironically has been given to only men or to be precise to white men. 


To understand the representation of women in the entertainment industry in the current time, we must take a look back at how they were shown on the screen during the olden days. Female actors were given limited screen presence, no important character in the movie, their characters depended solely on the other male characters for screen presence. With no representation of a woman of colour and almost no woman sitting on the director’s chair, I think it is pretty much obvious how women were represented in this industry. To sum up, a woman’s role was limited to “being something that a man desired and were mostly objectified”. Remember Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell. They are both still remembered as the leading sex symbols of the industry and not as performers. 


Ever wondered why is it so? Now, let us talk about a film from the past that will bring in some more clarity on the kind of roles that were written for women. In the 1956 drama, The Revolt of Mamie Stover, Jane Russel plays the lead role. She runs away from her home to become a star but ends up at a club attracting customers for it. The entire movie’s central theme was the objectification of Russel who played a character whose only power was to attract men. 


Marilyn Monroe’ 1952 film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is another classic example of the stereotypical character women played in the cinema in the past. Monroe plays the role of a gold digger who marries rich men only for their money. There are many more such films from the past that proves my point that no meaningful roles were written for the women and women-centric film around that time would have meant that nobody would have watched them. 


The struggle for equality and equal representation of women in Hollywood has yielded some fruitful results. Though we can’t say that there is an equal representation of women in Hollywood today, times have definitely changed. Women are no longer restricted to play the stereotypical housewife or love interests of the male protagonists, there are much meatier roles written for them in the movies now. With Hollywood opening doors to the women of colour, female directors too, have taken the front industry in the industry. Thankfully, today there are female-led blockbusters and these women are not portrayed in any meaningless roles; today they are taking over the superhero world which was once dominated only by men and are saving the world. 


Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicole Kidman, Natalie Portman and many other prominent actresses of today have time and again spoken against the existing gap between the male and female representation of women in the cinema and have demanded equality in the pay structure too. We say that times have changed and the society is changing too but when it comes to recognising the talent put in by the women in the industry, we still have a long way to go. 


If you take a look at the top films in 2019, around ten percent of them were directed by a woman. Something we should rejoice about. But when the Oscar nominations were rolled out, something felt wrong. None of these successful film female directors made to the nominations. Till date, only five female directors have ever been nominated to the Oscars and only one has won in this category. Kathryn Bigelow won an award for her film Hurt Locker in 2010. With so many potential female directors this year, and yet no nominations, I wonder how long do we have to wait again to see a woman winning the Academy Awards.


We have all witnessed how women have been represented in the entertainment industry over the years and how significantly the scenario has changed for the female actors and the directors. Although Hollywood has become more accepting of women leading the world of cinema, a lot still needs to be done before we could say that men and women are treated the same way in the world of entertainment. 


Media is a powerful tool and the cinema acts as one of its media. The damage caused by the cinematic portrayal of women needs to be changed. Times have changed. We no longer are a part of society that wants to see women playing the doting houseful or the loving girlfriend. We want to see something more realistic and Hollywood has taken a note of it. But a lot more needs to change. Male characters have dominated the screen far too long. The unattainable standards of beauty and the idea of an “ideal” woman set by the old Hollywood must be broken and the stereotypes and the false ideologies that restrict the work of a woman in an industry must die. 


Take some time and mull over how changing times have had an impact on our lives. We bring you this website with a rich collection of things of the past. A glimpse of how society looked like hundreds of years ago what you will find here. From the secret agents of the past time to the crazy pirate traditions, you will find a very interesting assembly of articles from the forgotten time. The interesting story of the gangster duo, Bonnie and Clyde; the most shocking tragedies in the royal families that shook the world and the surprising facts about Abraham Lincoln’s assassination will leave you amazed. These well-crafted and well-researched stories with great visual additions will transport you back in time.