It’s no secret that there are gender inequality issues in Hollywood, particularly regarding the overwhelming disparity among men and women in the casting of certain types of roles. It is fair that women over a certain age are basically damned to playing “helicopter moms” or that men get to play action stars until they pretty much croak; even if they don’t really look the part anymore? If you really believe in equality of the sexes, then you should probably shake your head in disgust about now. Otherwise, feel nothing. After all, you wouldn’t be alone.
Whether we as moviegoers realize it or not, we are complicit in the whole separate but equal ideology being perpetuated in Hollywood with respect to gender inequality. Every time we go see an action movie where the lead is another male over 50—not that there is anything wrong with that—we are passively agreeing with the decision makers in Hollywood that keep making movies just like that.
The same is true of the reverse. If no one shows up to see an action movie where the lead is a female, then we are all inadvertently perpetuating further gender inequality. And yes, one could argue that the plots in action movies with female leads are just not good, but that argument is kind of weak when you consider that pretty much all action movies have terrible plots. But you don’t have to take my word for it that women are treated unfairly; the proof is all around us.
No Such Thing as Aging Gracefully
For women in Hollywood there is no such thing as aging gracefully, as a general rule. Women are either trotted around—mostly half nude—when they are considered “young and hot” or they’re playing the “mother” type as they get older. There really isn’t any in between. Need proof, ok, take Jennifer Aniston for example.
Since her career really took off around the time she started on the TV sitcom Friends, Jennifer Aniston has pretty much always played the “hot girlfriend” or the highly “desired-to-be girlfriend.” However, after Friends, those kinds of roles have given way—particularly over the last 5-7 years—to more mature topics in her movies—perhaps by force—like the topic of artificial insemination in the movie The Switch as well as playing a mother in that same movie.
You see, the “hot girlfriend” roles are slowly but surely diminishing for Jennifer Aniston, even though she is still “hot” by most people’s standards. But, that doesn’t stop her from trying to debunk that sexist ideology by continuing to push boundaries and taking off her clothes in movies like We’re the Millers. I also suspect that just like all the other “hot” actresses that came before her, she too will see fewer Hollywood movie roles at some point or be reserved to solely playing a “mother” to younger “hotter” actors, like Susan Sarandon and Jamie Lee Curtis—who both started out as the “hot” actress in movies, but have evolved into the “not hot” mother/grandmother type roles.
Exceptions to the Apparent Rule
Even with the ever present gender inequality in Hollywood, there are known exceptions. Who are they, you ask? Consider the two actresses Dame Helen Mirren and Diane Keaton, for example. Aside from being some of the most revered actresses in Hollywood, these two women couldn’t be more different career-wise. However, if you look deeper than the obvious, one of the things that they do have in common is that they have truly overcome the inequality standard with regards to women aging in Hollywood.
The classically trained English actor, Dame Helen Mirren, may have a career that spans the genres which includes playing three queens, but as of late, her roles have been consistently badass in nature. No, not of the Lara Croft Tomb Raider variety, but her character in the RED movies more than proves that she’s not ready for a rocking chair anytime soon. Dame Helen Mirren can do whatever she wants…and that’s hot!
Then there is American actor Diane Keaton. Although her career has primarily consisted of dramatic and comedic roles, which has included brief nudity—even over the age of 50—she continues to maintain a presence in Hollywood; perhaps even more so than her female peers. Maybe that has a lot to do with the fact that she is still gorgeous by all accounts, but then again she’s also a delight on screen as well, which makes her movies all the more entertaining. At the end of the day, she’s still a draw in Hollywood and aside from her looks or age, that is ultimately what Hollywood cares about, right?