In 2014, the company who made the brilliant ‘Miss Representation’ documentary launched a viral campaign which highlighted the blatant double standards an sexism that often appears on the red carpet during awards season.
The Representation Project started the AskHerMore campaign in a bid to force reporters to start asking all the amazingly talented actresses about more than just their outfit, hair, jewelery, shows, etc etc. The idea was for people across the twittersphere to tweet to certain red carpet reporters and give them suggestions of questions they SHOULD be asking instead such as “how did you prepare for the role you are nominated for tonight?” and “who was your mentor and role model in the early days of your career?”. You know, questions that actually have answers we want to hear.
Well this year the campaign was brought back again on social media with a vengeance, with other major organizations such as Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls jumping on board to encourage their readers to tweet during the Golden Globes.
But have things really progressed in a year and has this hashtag and movement impacted the industry in any way? The short and sad answer is: not really. The longer version is that it has made many more media outlets aware of the campaign and they have gladly jumped on board to support AND call out incidents which are just wrong. Here are a few prime examples.
At the Screen Actors Guild awards on Sunday, January 25, reporter Maria Menounos asked celebs Julianne Moore and Jennifer Aniston to parade their hands in what they called a “mani-cam” to show off their manicures and the jewels they are wearing. Totally appropriate for the actresses who gave thrilling performances in roles they were both nominated for…
Then there was this little gem, which also took place during the SAG awards. TNT Network’s Danielle Demski made an epic fail of a statement to Rashida Jones, queen of awesomeness, showing that not only do we need better questions, but the same line of superficial questions are getting tiresome.
“You look like you’ve just come off an island or something,” she said to Rashida. “You’re very tan. Very tropical.”
“You know, I’m ethnic,” replies Rashida, with a deadpan look. Cue awkward laughs and immediate cover-up by the two network hosts. In fact male co-host (who is white) responds with “me too!” possibly proving he doesn’t actually know that Rashida Jones is bi-racial. There was a great video showing what went down, but unfortunately it has been removed.
Anyway moving on to another example which was a little more clever. The hilarious and intelligent crew over at Buzzfeed decided to interview Kevin Spacey on the red carpet, asking him the exact questions that would normally be asked to a woman. Here is how the ‘House of Cards’ star responded:
Elle Magazine also decided enough was enough so they, like Buzzfeed, thought flipping the script on the red carpet to ask men the same questions would be a great way to highlight the double standards and ridiculousness of focusing only on a woman’s appearance, when they too are at these awards ceremonies on merit.
They asked Kevin Costner how he manages to balance a career with parenthood, ‘St. Vincent’ star Jaeden Lieberher was asked how long he took to get ready for the carpet, ‘Orange Is The New Black’s Michael Harney was asked whether he notices men being treated differently to women given that he is on a show with mostly females, ‘Silicon Valley’s TJ Miller was asked how high his heels were, and ‘Get On Up’s Chadwick Boseman was asked what was in his purse.
There were some pretty funny answers, and obvious laughs to the “what’s your beauty routine before a red carpet” question. If men find these questions silly and annoying, we can only imagine how much the women despise them after a while.
“The campaign highlights a blatant problem in Hollywood in which women are asked not about their inspirations, achievements, or anything existential, but instead about who they’re wearing,” writes Vanessa Golembewski at Refinery29 about AskHerMore.
It’s positive to note the hashtag is gaining traction, but we want to see results. It is not just on the red carpet, it is the media in general. Not too long ago Jennifer Garner spoke at a Hollywood event about the sexism that exists for male and female actors. On a day that both her and husband Ben Affleck were doing press for films they had worked on, they compared notes at the end of the day to see if there were any similarities in the questions asked.
“I told him, ‘Every single person who interviewed me, and I mean every single one asked me, ‘How do you balance work and family?’ And, he said the only thing anyone asked him repeatedly was about the tits on the ‘Blurred Lines’ girl (Emily Ratajkowski, his co-star in ‘Gone Girl’)…but as for a work-life balance, he said that no one asked him about it that day, as a matter of fact, no one had ever asked him about it. Not once. And we do share the same family.”
Ok media, the challenge has been laid down. Women in Hollywood are tired, and unless you want the same drab interviews or make enemies of some of the top A-list actresses, start to ask better questions and show your audiences that women are just as valuable, entertaining, talented and interesting as their male counterparts.
If you need any more proof that this is an ongoing problem, check out this supercut that Upworthy put together: