TOKYOPOP Fam: Yesterday I attended a panel discussion about female-driven content in entertainment. While I thought the discussion would focus on recent trends such as the popularity of YA films (which may be waning) such as “Twilight” and “Hunger Games”, along with Disney’s evolution of female characters in animated movies such as “Frozen”.
But the panel went beyond this topic and delved into gender issues in production. I have to confess I was only vaguely familiar with the level of gender inequality that remains in the film and television business, however this panel drove the point home. The stats were shocking to me - so few writers and directors are women. Many of the current issues are represented effectively in this New York Film Academy visual data blog.
I thought about manga in Japan, where many of the manga-ka are women. Then again, on the anime side of things, the workforce is male-dominated. This holds true in gaming as well. In fact, the recent controversy over #GamerGate drives home not only gender inequality in gaming but a misogynist and even violent streak which is a great cause for concern. Similar issues are even appearing in the start-up and tech community.
And of course, the problem is not exclusive to gender but extends to race inequality as well. The irony is that the entertainment industry does not reflect its own audience. Walking the streets of not only Los Angeles, but New York, Toronto, Paris, Berlin, and London over the past few weeks, I’ve witnessed how truly diverse the world has become. And entertainment that reflects this reality is more relatable and often more successful, even though the industry itself has not caught up.
As I listened to the panel, I thought about my own projects. When I speak on panels or to others, I emphasize the importance of diversity since multiple points-of-view are represented. But what if I had been a hypocrite and wasn't “walking the talk”? Fortunately, my film projects such as “Knockouts”, “Mail Order Ninja”, “The Dreaming”, “Poison Candy”, “Afters”, “The Fall” and others feature female and/or ethnically diverse writing, directing, and producing partners.
So, what can you do? As one of the panel’s speakers so eloquently put it - don’t give up on your dreams. In other words, the only way to make progress on these issues is to keep driving forward - to force it to happen. If you have a dream to write, direct, draw, produce or participate in the entertainment industry in any fashion, no matter what you will encounter resistance and hit walls along the way. If you are a woman or minority, those hurdles will be even higher. But the more women and minorities not backing down, chasing their dreams, the greater the possibility that those hurdles will be lowered - eventually to the point of equality.
While some people in the white male dominated establishment may create and/or enforce these barriers, there are others (I’m one of them!) who will proactively involve women and minorities in their projects. For me personally, I prefer a diverse team, and I’m confident I’m not the only one. The more talent choices out there for each role, the quicker our industry can move to equality.
So, definitely don’t give up on your dreams!!