Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mexico's Female Journalists Include Courage Among Their Newsgathering Skills

The danger that shadows Mexico's journalists is well known.  They face constant harassment, intimidation, and worse.  Increasingly, women are becoming targets -- especially women who have succeeded in reaching top jobs in the profession.  The cruel irony is that their success brings them more visibility and less security.  This report from the "Journalism in the Americas" blog at the University of Texas, Austin, illustrates just how terrifying the situation is and how strong Mexico's women journalists are.

Friday, July 12, 2013

ESPN To Air Documentary on Women Sports Journalists Who Fought for Professional Access and Treatment

"Let Them Wear Towels" -- Directed by Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern.  Airs on ESPN Tuesday, July 16, at 8 pm EDT

Lisa Olson was just trying to do her job as a reporter for the Boston Herald in 1990 when a group of New England Patriot players sexually harassed her in their locker room by exposing their genitals and making lewd and vulgar comments. Even though a subsequent NFL investigation concluded that Olson had been "degraded and humiliated," the 25-year-old continued to be tormented by Patriot fans -- so much so that she temporarily moved to Australia to resume her career.

The incident touched off a national debate about the presence of female journalists in the male sanctum of the clubhouse. That debate should have been settled 12 years earlier, when Melissa Ludtke of Sports Illustrated successfully challenged Major League Baseball after she was kept out of the Los Angeles Dodgers' locker room during the 1977 World Series.

Why has equal access for women reporters remained such a hot-button issue? That question is asked in "Let Them Wear Towels," a history and examination of females working in the man's world of the locker room. Through interviews with such pioneer women as Ludtke, Claire Smith, Lesley Visser and Christine Brennan, you'll hear stories of raw behavior and humorous retaliation, angry lawsuits and remarkable resolve.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

We Were All Laughing, But Actor Dustin Hoffman Wasn't

In "Tootsie," actor Dustin Hoffman portrayed a man masquerading as a woman in hopes of landing a better job. In this interview distributed by the American Film Institute, he says he wanted to play a beautiful woman in "Tootsie" -- but the makeup artists told him, it ain't gonna happen.  You're just not beautiful.  Hoffman was crushed.  In the AFI interview, he describes, emotionally, what he learned about his own attitudes toward women -- and how much he regrets using traditional male standards of beauty in judging a woman's value. (Hoffman was nominated for an Academy Award for "Tootsie," released in 1982.  Now I want to see it again!)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

UN, Geena Davis Institute Partner to Study Film Roles for Women

Geena Davis has long lent her starpower to advocacy for improved cinematic depiction of women and girls.  Now the United Nations has gotten on board, announcing a partnership with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media that will produce a study cataloguing patterns of depiction and stereotyping -- and breakthrough roles where they occur.  The study will be ambitious in scope, examining the top-grossing international movies in Australia, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, Spain and the United Kingdom.  Results are expected in 2014.

I'm not getting my hopes up. For the most part, the most successful of 2012's top-grossing films from U.S. studios again delivered superhero fantasies, lots of weaponry, and action sequences valued most by male teens and male young adults.  The good news is that some of these powerful heroes were female (The Hunger Games and Brave come to mind).

Here are the Top 10, with the date of release, name of studio, film type and rating.  The dollar figure is the gross; the next number is the number of tickets sold.

1 Marvel's The Avengers 5/4/2012 Walt Disney Adventure PG-13 $623,279,547 79,601,474

2 The Dark Knight Rises 7/20/2012 Warner Bros. Action PG-13 $448,139,099 57,233,601

3 The Hunger Games 3/23/2012 Lionsgate Thriller/Suspense PG-13 $408,010,692 52,108,645

4 Skyfall 11/8/2012 Sony Pictures Action PG-13 $289,600,000 36,985,951

5 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 11/16/2012 Lionsgate Drama PG-13 $286,039,065 36,531,170

6 The Amazing Spider-Man 7/3/2012 Sony Pictures Adventure PG-13 $262,030,663 33,464,963

7 Brave 6/22/2012 Walt Disney Adventure PG $237,236,938 30,298,459

8 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 12/14/2012 Warner Bros. Adventure PG-13 $222,703,000 28,442,273

9 Ted 6/29/2012 Universal Comedy R $218,665,740 27,926,659

10 Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted 6/8/2012 Paramount Pictures Adventure PG $216,391,482 27,636,204