James Smart's Philadelphia
Of All Things
July 26, 2017
by James Smart
Coming soon: Agent 007, Bond: Jane Bond
There are reports that the next movie about Agent 007 is going to have women as hero and villain, with Jane Bond pursuing a female Dr. No.
Presumably, this is a Hollywood attempt to portray women’s equality with men. But will Jane Bond earn 80 cents for every dollar James Bond does?
And, could this be a trend? Will classic films be remade with heroines replacing the heroes?
We may soon have Tarzana of the Apes swinging through the jungle trees. Charlotte Holmes and Nurse Watson may pursue Professor Mary Arity along the foggy streets of London.
Princess Charming could wake up a sleeping dude named Whitney Snow. In “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” Esmerelda could rescue Quasimodo from the hateful mob.
Many of the classics could be reworked, such as “The Three Musketrettes,” “The Godmother,” “Citizen Jane,” “Florence of Arabia,” “Queen Kong,” and “Ben Him.”
The Center for Study of Women in TV and Film at San Diego State University (you knew there had to be an organization like that, didn’t you, gang), laments that out of the 100 top grossing films of 2016, women accounted for 4% of directors, 11% of writers, 19% of producers, and 3% of cinematographers.
In the content of the films, women made up 29% of leading roles, and 32% of overall speaking characters. Women and men make up the total U. S. population at just about half and half, if that comparison means anything here.
Hollywood has a gimmick, vaguely related to introducing Jane Bond, of coming up with lady superheroes such as Wonderwoman, Supergirl, Batwoman, and many others; consult any 12-year-old comic book aficionado.
But that’s not the same as movies representing the sexes equally. If a film or play or book or any fiction tells a story correctly, equality or balance doesn’t always work. You could make Romeo the girl and Juliet the boy without upsetting reality, but a film about the Battle of Chickamauga with half of the army played by women just wouldn’t work.
If some overly-enlightened film director decided that the modern thing to do was to have half of the army played by women, would he be likely to pay the women less than the men? Maybe he could make the men the Confederate half and the women the Union half, and pay the women less because they lost.
There is another aspect of male and female relationship in the workplace beside salaries. Even in our theoretically enlightened age when women are CEOs of several giant corporations, there are still men with a deeply engrained belief that their gender is number one. Among that group is a subset that considers itself a herd of Romeos and all women potentially part-time Juliets.
Those recent big shot television executives who got a lot of bad publicity for harassing young female subordinates still think they were just behaving normally, even if they were paying the women the same as young men in equivalent jobs.
The whole problem is difficult to reconcile. It may be that equality of the sexes could never be truly achieved until men can have babies. And in the confused way sexual matters seem to be these days, some scientists somewhere may be working on that.