Thursday, April 22, 2010

Visceral Intelligence Conundrums

Across America gender equality continues to be a prevailing issue. The 21st century has yet to offer equal opportunities for equal pay to women overall in many of its industries despite their aptitude.

In 2008, men represented 51 percent of the workforce and women represented 49 percent in persons aged 16 to 19; for ages 20 to 24 and 25 to 34, men and women consisted of 50 percent. Of the other major age groups, (35 to 44, 45 to 54, 55 to 64, and 65 upwards), women outnumbered men (US Department of Labor). Yet, men are paid considerably more than their counterparts (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

It is unbelievable and disheartening today that women are still faced with such blatant inequalities.

The media is one of the country’s most powerful and profitable industries (and institutions) ─ perhaps second to the government and/or military (Media & Culture). It is of no surprise that female directors are a scarcity in Hollywood. As reported by the AP in 2007, women only made up a mere seven percent of the Directors Guild (MSNBC).

The fact that women have not produced and directed more films may just be keeping Hollywood from attaining that much more in wealth and prestige. How financially and intellectually savvy are men really if they are unable to work together with women as their equals?

More women with talents like that of Jodie Foster should reign in Hollywood. She has transcended boundaries in the mainstream media as both actor and auteur. Foster has contributed a great deal to the history and future of women in media. As far back as some may remember, among many of her accolades, she was famous for the little girl in the Coppertone advertisement. Her exposure to media began when she started acting in commercials as early as age three. By the time she attended college, Foster had already made nearly 50 movies and television appearances!

As an actor, she was first nominated at the age of 14 for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as a preteen prostitute in the 1976 film, Taxi Driver. In 1989 she won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role as a rape victim in The Accused. The film that got her international acclaim and her second Academy Award was The Silence of the Lambs where she played the role of Clarice Starling, a talented FBI trainee in search of a serial killer. Thereafter, she continued to act and receive acting awards for many other popular movies which led her to direct films.

In 1991, she directed her first film entitled Little Man Tate, and in which she also played a role. The second film she directed was Home for the Holidays in 1995 (Columbia Encyclopedia 2008). Her most current and upcoming project is a dark comedy entitled The Beaver, whose premise is that of a depressed CEO of a toy company who uses a Beaver as a hand puppet to channel communication between himself, his wife and children.

Foster’s approach to directing films is based upon her natural inclinations. She draws on her personal family experiences and also from those acquired through her roles as an actor. In doing so, she allows for psychological connections to take place between herself, the movie and its cast. She becomes a part of the production by acting alongside the actors when necessary to guide them towards the portrayal of emotions that she deems appropriate for a scene. She also relies on elaborate shot lists that she creates to assist her in communicating her ideas into each film (Inside the Actors Studio).

Foster’s childhood experiences have provided her with a strong foundation to be successful in Hollywood. She is one of three children of divorced parents. At a very early age she became the family's financial provider due to her ability to earn income from acting and as a result of the absence of her father. For her accomplishments, Foster was known as a child prodigy. Children who are bestowed with such talents, and hardships, are also sometimes known to possess a strong visceral intelligence that can act as a driving factor toward their successes.

Her love of literature allows her to be well versed in many areas and has contributed to her artistic sensibilities. She is a graduate of Yale University.

If more women are to succeed in this male-centric society, more action on the part of each woman is required. Women may want to consider boycotting the next projected blockbuster Hollywood film to protest such barbaric machista practices. Enough is enough already!

Without women, the planet would be quite a dull place. Women bring different perspectives and insights to all situations. Together men and women are capable of attaining that which has not yet unfolded. But it may just be that if men continue to bull doze their way through our universe amongst themselves, they may just cause its demise.

Works Cited

Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Household Data-Annual Averages.” 2009

Campbell, Richard, et. al. “Media Research and Democracy.” Media & Culture 7e (2010): 488-489.

Inside the Actors Studio - Parts I and III

MSNBC. “Female Directors Remain a Rarity in Hollywood.” Associated Press (2007)

The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2008. “Jodie Foster.” April 2010.

U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment and Earnings, Annual Averages 1998 and 2008. United States Department of Labor. “Employment Status of Women and Men in 2008.”

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