The Men In Hollywood Whose Masculinity Is Not Threatened By The Presence Of Feminism

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Contrary to popular belief amongst many career internet commenters (usually found trolling Youtube comment sections or stalking the #feminism hashtag on Twitter) feminism is not a threat to masculinity. But you’d be forgiven for thinking that all men possibly do think this way, given the loud noise many anti-feminists make not only on the internet, but also in real life. Just watch any Fox News segment or listen to a Rush Limbaugh radio rant…

We should clear up that the reason more un-threatened men don’t speak as loud as the ones who do feel threatened, is because they have an actual life to live and go on living it in the real world, not online.

Ok so now that we have that cleared up, it’s only fair that we draw attention to men who are living, breathing examples of masculinity that in no way feels undermined or in danger of becoming extinct due to the presence of feminism.

Hollywood, while still a long way off from being the poster child for gender equality, has some major achievements to be proud of in the feminist stakes and it’s exciting to see.

The new Disney film ‘Tomorrowland’ starring George Clooney and Britt Robertson is the first example we’d like to mention.

In an interview with Vulture, George as well as director Brad Bird and written by Damon Lindelof talked about the futuristic Sci-Fi film featuring a lead female character. In fact out of the three lead characters, one is a male, one is a female, and one is a female robot. It is quite the subversive statement to make given that in the genre, these characters are typically played by men.

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Vulture’s Kyle Buchanan brings up the point that it is rare to see a summer blockbuster sci-fi movie where the female characters share numerous scenes all on their own (and with that they just passed the Bechdel Test!).

“There was one point where Britt’s character was a guy, and we very quickly bailed on it,” said director Brad Bird.

“It felt very ordinary. There is a completely false perception of, “Well, our main character is interested in space travel, so it’s gotta be a boy,” but the first time I said, “Well, what if it was a young girl …” added writer Damon Lindelof.

“It just felt like it was exactly right for us. I also think that if you have a female lead, people suddenly go, ‘Oh, there has to be a romantic entanglement.’ Like, if you’re doing ‘Hunger Games’, it’s not enough that you’re dropped into an arena and everyone’s trying to kill you — there has to be not one, but two romantic entanglements! So Brad and I thought, What if she doesn’t get distracted by romantic entanglements? What if her ‘romance’ is with the future?”

It’s interesting Damon mentions the ‘Hunger Games’ because we and many other media outlets are continually citing that as a viable financial reason for Hollywood to stop making excuses about female lead characters not drawing the box office numbers to be a hit. Considering the franchise was the biggest selling box office film in 2013 and 2014, Damon’s comment is a little glimpse into who in Hollywood IS actually taking notice of this point.

“It would be awfully odd in this film for her to stop and say, ‘Hey there, pal. You have beautiful blue eyes’,” added George Clooney on the deliberate choice not to make Britt Robertson’s character Casey Newton even remotely seen as someone valued for their external features, rather than their sense of adventure which is more appropriate in this genre at least.

And we all know George Clooney is the poster child for someone who is definitely not threatened by a strong woman. In 2014 he married internationally acclaimed human rights lawyer, whose accolades and achievements could easily outweigh that of her husbands.

The union was so highly talked about in feminist circles that Business Women Media website even ran the headline “Internationally Acclaimed Barrister Amal Alamuddin Marries an Actor”. We’re sure the men’s rights “activists” had a field day with that one…

Damon Lindelof and Brad Bird are examples of men in Hollywood who seemingly want to be part of a cultural shift in an industry that has thrived on stereotypes when it comes to the portrayal of women.

“It’ll be nice in 10 or 15 years for this not to be a thing anymore. I think we’re now in this post–’Hunger Games, post-‘Twilight, post-‘Insurgent era where these movies make tons of money, you don’t even think twice about it, and they’re great characters. But for us, it was always more interesting — particularly the energy for Frank to be pulled along, kicking and screaming, by these two young women,” said Damon.

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Finally it’s not just us and other women continually saying what we think Hollywood should show, these men seem to be listening, and more than that, actually paying attention to the numbers.

Moving away from the big screen to television, specifically a series called ‘Halt and Catch Fire’ on AMC based around a group of tech ingenues in the 1980s who are on the verge of creating the next big brand. In the spirit of the Steve Jobs-Steve Wozniak friendship and genius partnership which created Apple, the series aims to highlight aspects of the industry that has forever changed the world since the 80s when some of the world’s most recognizable brands were created.

While the lead character is a male, Joe MacMillan who is set to take fictional company Cardiff Electric into the highly competitive race of personal computing, there are two prominent women in the company who are going to be a huge focus in season 2.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the series’ showrunner Jonathan Lisco talked about filling the ‘Mad Men’ time slot on the network and being picked up for a second season despite low ratings (it seems AMC are willing to be patient for the show to build an audience over time – an unusual move for a network, and specifically one that has shows like ‘Breaking Bad’, ‘Mad Men’ and currently ‘The Walking Dead’ to bank on for ratings).

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Jonathan also spoke about the feminist storyline with female characters Cameron (played by Mackenzie Davis) and Donna (played by Kelly Bishe) saying these women and the show are undoubtedly taking a stand for feminism.

“My and [fellow creators] Chris Cantwell and Chris Rogers’ pet peeve is when female characters in dramas on television wind up only as accessories to the male story lines. By the time episode four come around — a very Donna-centric, Donna as a hero episode — we knew we were creating two women in Donna and Cameron, who were formidable engineers and formidable people in their own right,” he said. Hey Jonathan, looks like we have some similar pet peeves!

“At the same time, they’re at different levels of feminism. Donna is 10 years ahead of Cameron roughly, so she has forged a path for women like Cameron coming up. And women like Cameron coming up might not appreciate the way Donna has blazed the trail. So while they’re both feminists in their own way, there’s certainly a differential between them that’s fodder for drama in the way they view the marketplace,” he continued.

It’s certainly a timely subject, women in tech, as global stats show an underwhelming presence of women across the board in major tech companies capping out at 30%, and an even lower figure when it comes to women in engineering or managerial positions. However we just saw recently how Chinese tech e-commerce giant Alibaba founder Jack Ma declared the secret to his company’s success is that 40% of his staff are female, and 35% of his board positions are taken up by women.

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Today Alibaba is ranked as the 4th largest tech company in the world behind Apple, Google and Microsoft. But if their growth and success ever since their lauded IPO in 2014 is anything to go by, it seems gender equality in the workplace is not just fair, its profitable.

So while ‘Halt and Catch Fire’ is set back in the heady days of the Silicon Valley boom, the feminist storyline could almost be seen as a glimpse of what is to come in the future.

“It’s one thing to [create a start-up] now but it’s quite something different to do it 30 years ago. There weren’t many data points for start-ups reaching meteoric success. So you had to be even more arrogant, even more intrepid and even more blind to reason if you were going to do something like that. To be two women on top of it, trying to blaze a trail in tech is really a story worth telling,” said Jonathan.

Amen to that! It indeed is a story worth telling, and it is refreshing to hear these men in power have no qualms about advocating feminism in their content. This is what we need to see more of, whether it is in the sci-fi and tech genre, whether it is on TV or on demand, or any other medium in Hollywood that plans on making money. People want to see women’s stories just as much as men’s.

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