FEMINIST FRIDAY: Walmart Enlists 3 Female Directors For Super Bowl Ads After Criticism In 2017

Welcome to another Feminist Friday! That time of the week when we head into the weekend on a high note, fan-girling over our favorite videos of the moment. This week it’s all about women who are working to break down gender barriers in typically “male-dominated” arenas, whether it be directing, drumming or music.

If you watched the line-up of Super Bowl ads this year, you probably saw three 60 second spots from Walmart. The best part about these was that they were all directed by women – ‘Mudbound’s Dee Rees, actress & comedian Melissa McCarthy, and ‘The Intern’s Nancy Meyers. The retail giant continued their film-centric theme from the 2017 broadcast, but this time with a difference.

Last year Walmart copped criticism from fans over their exclusion of any women behind the camera, and this year they made moves to rectify this. As Variety reported, with the current #metoo and #TimesUp movements gaining momentum in Hollywood and beyond, ignoring the voices of women would be a bad move. But Walmart insists they are not just cashing in on the trend, but trying to correct their oversight and be authentic.

“We are aware of the conversation going on, but we are looking to be integrated authentically into the show,” said Kirsten Evans, senior vice president of marketing for the company.

In addition to the Super Bowl ads, Walmart will also gave funding toward Women in Film’s ‘Catalyze’ program, which allowed three up-and-coming directors to shadow Dee Rees, Melissa McCarthy and Nancy Meyers as they worked on their respective commercials. WIF’s executive director Kirsten Schaffer said there is a change happening in the industry, and initiatives like this are proof of that.

“There is kind of a long-held belief in the entertainment industry that the pipeline of talent isn’t deep enough and I think that it is starting to shift, and that this is representative of that shift,” she said. You can watch the spots below.


The second video is a live performance from a London-based band we have recently discovered and can’t get enough of! Dream Wife are an all-female trio whose music gives us some serious Riot Grrrl! vibes. In an interview with AtwoodMagazine.com, the musicians talk about some of their tracks on their current album, including one called ‘Act My Age’, whose message speaks to the kinds of ridiculous norms forced on women and girls in society. They say it’s a commentary about how people try to pigeonhole women.

Especially when it comes to age, like “At this age you should act like this, at this age you should act like this” which is ridiculous. And also, we only have this one life. Do exactly what you think is right for you. You’re still a teenager in your 80s, my grandma’s still a teenager. So all this stuff, you don’t have to be restrained to the face that you’re sweet and sixteen, or you’re mature and you’re 25, these expectations especially put on women,” said band member Rakel Mjöll.

It’s really weird. And I think that song starts sweet, it’s really sentimental, the lyrics are “I tell you I’m a little bit afraid/ You tell me I should act my age/ Well I guess I am”, like how else am I supposed to act? And “You say I mean the world to you/ But you can’t really see this through/ Well I guess I can”. It’s a conversation. Then comes “Do I amuse you? Do I confuse you?” and that’s scary. It’s fun,” she added. 

Watch them play ‘Act My Age’ live in Oakland, CA below:

And continuing on with some music to take us out is an all-female drumming group from Brazil called Banda Didá, who are infiltrating the male-dominated tradition of “bloco-afro” Afro-Brazilian drumming. The group was formed in 1993 and have been a fierce female presence in the country. The members are also all black women, giving representation to a demographic in Brazil who are often the target of racism and class-based discrimination.

An article about the group on WritingforAcademies.com states that these women have had to wade through the expected amount of gender push-back and criticism, which has made them all the more determined to continue.

“We’ve given visibility to especially black women who have traditionally been marginalized here. We’ve also feminized percussion,” said one of the many band’s leaders and longest-serving members, Viviam Caroline de Jesus Queirós.

Banda Didá are bringing some much-needed female empowerment at a time when conservatism is on the rise in Brazil in politics, and restrictions to safe abortion access still existing for many women. But there is a feminist movement rising, and this group are part of that.

One of the most ridiculous criticisms they have received is from people in society who think women shouldn’t drum because the drums they use in Afro-Brazilian music are large and heavy. They are pushing back on this type of outdated social norm that ties a woman’s function to the reasoning behind claiming she is unable to do something.

“They used to say drumming wasn’t for girls as a result of the instrument was heavy. However we’re warrior ladies, and sure, we will play. And the proof of that’s there on the street: we play simply in addition to the lads,” said Jean Jesus dos Santos, one of many young members of the group.

We’re always down to promote women, especially women of color, who are breaking with tradition and disrupting outdated social gender norms to form new pathways of badass possibility for other women. Banda Didá have performed in numerous Carnival events, one of the most popular national events on Brazil’s calendar which attracts attendees from all over the world. Take a look at the women in action below:







Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.