Sanchez: Hollywood's sexist problem

BY SADIE SANCHEZ | JUNE 30, 2015 5:00 AM

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You might know actress Rose McGowan for her roles in “Charmed” and Scream, or the Grindhouse films Death Proof and Planet Terror. She can also be seen in a new starring role: calling out Hollywood on its sexism.

Last week, McGowan tweeted a picture of a casting note from a new Adam Sandler flick, requesting that women auditioning wear “black (or dark) form fitting tank that shows off cleavage (push-up bras encouraged). And form fitting leggings or jeans. Nothing white.” She called the company out on its sexist request and was subsequently fired by her agent.

Since the incident, Rose has gone on record with many different magazines, from Entertainment Weekly to i-D, to discuss the sexism she and other women have faced while working in the Hollywood. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, she relayed what her agent told her after being cast in her first film: “When I did my first film, I was told by my agent that I would need to have long hair so men in this town would want to f**k me and hire me. That was said to a 17-year-old.”

Her experience is just one of others in the film industry. Recently, actress Maggie Gyllenhaal spoke to TheWrap about the age gap between on-screen women and their male counterparts. At 37 years old, Gyllenhaal was told that she was “too old” to play a romantic interest for a 55-year-old actor. Unfortunately, she is not the only woman in Hollywood to experience this.

Earlier this month, Vulture released an unsettling set of graphs, tracking the age differences among actresses Emma Stone, Jennifer Lawrence, and Scarlett Johansson and their on-screen love interests. The results are astonishing.

During Stone’s rise to fame, she has aged from 18 to 26. The youngest male counterpart she has had was 23 and the oldest was a staggering 54, with the mean age weighing in at 35 years. The pattern continues with Lawrence and Johansson. Lawrence has aged from 20 to 25 during the peak of career so far, and the ages of her male love interests range from Josh Hutcherson’s 19 to 40-year-old Bradley Cooper — with the mean hovering at 30.5.

Of them all, Johansson has perhaps the most disturbing age gap. At 16 and 18, her male counterparts weighed in at 46 and 52. And during her 14 years gracing our screens, the mean age of her costars was 38.5 years old.

So what does this say about the culture of Hollywood? With women being told to wear push-up bras to auditions and young actresses being tossed aside before they hit 40, it’s a harsh place.

Why do men flourish well into their 50s, love interests or not, while women’s roles dry up rapidly? Actresses from Cate Blanchett to Meryl Streep have called out this issue, bringing attention to the lack of leading women. And with this year’s Mad Max: Fury Road proving that viewers will pay good money to see a woman in a powerful leading role, it’s up to Hollywood to take note. The city is swarming with talented, award-winning actresses. It’s time to use them.

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