“To: Hollywood liberals
Cc: Amy Pascal, Steven Spielberg, etc.
From: Manohla Dargis
You donated millions to President Obama’s campaigns, you drive hybrid cars. You don’t like fracking, you do like recycling. You’re against bullying, you’re for marriage equality. You’ve traveled from Haiti to Congo, Sudan and beyond to lend a generous hand. The six major studios plant trees, recycle, reuse and even compost, and claim that they’re working on becoming 100 percent sustainable. In 2011, Sony Pictures Entertainment in Culver City, Calif., became the first zero waste lot, which, unfortunately, doesn’t mean the end of Adam Sandler movies. You may be confused about gun control, as is the rest of the country, and you make bank on representations of extreme violence — but when it comes to many issues, you are often as liberal as conservatives insist you are.
So … what’s up with not hiring women to direct movies? Is there something about double-X chromosomes that makes you squeamish? Are women biologically incapable of directing movies, especially the franchises that prop up the big studios year after year? It’s not like women can’t blow stuff up (see Kathryn Bigelow) and that every man can shoot action (see “Divergent,” etc.). It’s great when the industry takes a chance on a new talent, but how about mixing it up? Sony tapped Marc Webb, whose sole previous feature was the modest romantic comedy,“(500) Days of Summer,” to revive the “Spider-Man” franchise, and Anthony and Joe Russo, TV guys, were handed “Captain America.” Now Colin Trevorrow, who’s directed exactly one itty-bitty independent feature, “Safety Not Guaranteed,” has been tapped to direct the reboot of the “Jurassic Park” series. When Deadline.com announced the news of his hire, it asked, “Why Trevorrow?” Good question.”
“To: The movie studios
Cc: Netflix, Apple, cable television, YouTube, BitTorrent, the Criterion Collection, Hulu, Google, Dropbox, Amazon, Facebook (and 37 more)
We like to watch movies. We like to watch them at home, on tablets and flat screens, and at the gym or on planes or even in movie theaters. Ideally, we would like to be able to watch what we want, where and when we want, for as little money as possible. We are interested in quality, novelty and variety, but also in the familiar, the easy and the comfortable. If you keep making us happy, we will keep making you rich. We will also continue to complain.”
From: M.D. and A.O.S.
Comic-book superhero movies seem to be taking the place in the American imagination that the western once did. It’s been estimated that more than 7,000 westerns have been made in the United States since 1903, a saturation that — much like western dime novels and melodramatic plays, Buffalo Bill shows and the art of Frederic Remington — shows how deeply the genre once spoke to particularly (if not exclusively) American ideas about itself. The genre’s iconography, from the white and black hats to the horses, remains rooted in our collective imagination, as do some of the themes, including the tension between the nominally savage and civilized, and the little woman waiting as the hero rides off.
Aside from Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, women are still waiting — on screen and off — for a place in the comic-book-branded, fanboy-dominated superhero cosmos. This is not to say that there are no superheroines. Katniss Everdeen, with her deadeye aim and her heavy existential baggage, has proved that a girl can fight injustice and inspire fans as well as any man in a bodysuit and cape. But she had to stage her incursion into the mainstream from the world of young-adult fiction. The Marvel Universe and its DC counterpart — the worlds of Iron Man, Spider-Man, Batman, Superman and the X-Men (notice the pattern) — are strongholds of patriarchy. It’s time for them to open up.”
Memos to Hollywood