Do you want to know how sexist Hollywood is? Check out the Geena Davis spreadsheet

Special for Infobae of The New York Times.

Geena Davis and her family were returning from dinner in their small Massachusetts town when her 99-year-old great-uncle Jack began swerving into the oncoming lane of traffic. Davis was about 8 years old, and was flanked by her parents in her back seat. Courtesy permeated the car, the family, perhaps the era, and no one commented on what was happening, even as another car appeared in the distance, speeding toward them.

Finally, moments before impact, Davis’s grandmother made a gentle suggestion from the passenger seat: “A little to the right, Jack.” They did not collide by millimeters.

Davis, 67, recounted this story in her 2022 autobiography, “Dying of Politeness,” a compendium of the brilliantly stifling values ​​she had absorbed as a child, and many other girls absorb as well: Postpone. Go with the flow to get along. Everything’s fine.

Of course, the two-time Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences award-winning actress abandoned that docility long ago. From “Thelma and Louise” and “A Very Special Team” to this year’s teen drama “Fairyland,” backseat docility just wasn’t an option. In fact, self-control is what characterizes her. (Or one of the things that characterizes her. Few profiles have failed to mention her Mensa membership, her fluency in Swedish, or her Olympic-caliber archery prowess.) However, cultivating her own boldness was only the first phase.

Next year will mark two decades since the creation of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media. When her daughter was just a baby, Davis couldn’t help but notice that male characters vastly outnumbered female characters in children’s television shows and movies.

“I knew that everything is completely unbalanced in the world”, he stated recently. But we were talking about the realm of fantasy; why shouldn’t it be 50/50?

It wasn’t just the numbers. The shape The way women were portrayed, their aspirations, the way girls and young women were sexualized: Across all children’s programming, Davis saw a bewilderingly distorted view of reality being conveyed to impressionable minds. Long before the terms “diversity, equity and inclusion” entered the lexicon, Davis began bringing up this gender schism every time she held an industry meeting.

“Everyone said: ‘No, no, no, used to be like that, but it’s already been fixed,’” he said. “I started to wonder, what if I had the data to prove me right on this?”

Amid the touted causes of Hollywood, Davis made it a point to collect data discreetly. How bad is exactly that schism? In what other ways does it manifest itself? Beyond gender, who else is being marginalized? Instead of speeches and ribbons, and with sponsors ranging from Google to Hulu, the Davis team of researchers began collecting hard evidence.

Davis was not the first to point out the disparities in the popular entertainment industry. But by leveraging her reputation and her resources—and by forcefully using technology to identify the problem—she made a nebulous truth concrete and offered offenders a discreet path to redemption. (While the institute first focused on data on gender, its analyzes now extend to issues of race/ethnicity, LGBTQIA+, disability, people over 50, and body types. One terrible random finding, for example: characters overweight are more than twice as likely to be violent).

Even if you’re prepared to meet them, the institute’s findings are shocking: In the 101 highest-grossing overall-rated movies between 1990 and 2005, only 28 percent of speaking characters were women. Even in crowd scenes—even in crowd scenes animated— the number of male characters far outnumbers the female ones. In the 56 highest-grossing movies of 2018, women portrayed in leadership positions were four times more likely than men to appear nude. (The bodies of 15 percent of them were filmed in slow motion.) Whereas a century ago women had been utterly essential to the fledgling film industry, now they took a quantifiable, albeit sexy, background.

“When she started collecting the data, it was amazing,” said Hillary Hallett, a professor of American studies at Columbia University and author of “Go West, Young Women! The Rise of Early Hollywood”. “This was no longer a vague feeling. You were no longer going to be able to ensure that it was just a feminist tirade. You could already say: ‘Look at these figures‘”.

Davis is by turns reserved and funny off-screen, responding to questions thoughtfully, with a riotous laugh. Her (At one point, she uttered the word “act” so theatrically that she feared it would be hard to pin down in this article.) On a recent afternoon in Los Angeles, she took a break from the process of illustrating the children’s book she had written, “The Girl Who Was Too Big for the Page.”

“I grew up very aware that I was the tallest student — not just among the girls — in my class,” she said. “I had a childhood wish to take up less space in the world.”

Over time, he began to look beyond his height – 1.82 meters – towards the insidious messages that reinforce such insecurity.

“Hollywood creates our cultural narrative: its biases trickle down to the rest of the world,” she said in “This Changes Everything,” also known as “For Equality in Hollywood,” the 2018 documentary she produced about gender inequality in the industry. cinematographic. The documentary takes its name from the incessant phrase she heard after the success of “Thelma and Louise” and later “A Very Special Team.” Finally, the power and profitability of female-focused movies had been proven (this changes everything!) and then, year after year, nothing.

It was here that Davis planted his resolve, in the dispute over why certain injustices persist and how best to combat them. While movements like #MeToo and Times Up signal deliberate acts of monstrosity, theirs would be the more malleable universe of unconscious bias. Did you choose without thinking that this doctor was a man? Did you hire that straight, white director because he shares your origins? whatThought that you were diversifying your film, when in reality you were just reinforcing old stereotypes? (like that of the “passionate Latina”, for example).

If a carload of educated Davises can react to the looming danger, perhaps the filmmakers will be able to see the damage they are perpetuating.

“Not everyone is purposefully trying to hurt women or the black community,” said Franklin Leonard, film and television producer and founder of The Black List, a popular platform for unproduced scripts. “But the decisions they make certainly have that consequence, regardless of what they believe about their intent.”

Leonard added: “It’s not something people are aware of. In addition, there is no documentary evidence, it can only be revealed in the aggregate. Which highlights the value of Geena’s work.”

Women made up just 18 percent of directors working on the 250 most popular movies of 2022, up just 1 percent from 2021, according to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film; the percentage of major Asian and Asian-American female characters fell from 10 percent in 2021 to less than 7 percent in 2022. A 2021 McKinsey report found that 92 percent of film executives were white, less diverse than the Donald Trump’s cabinet at the time, as Leonard of The Black List pointed out.

“I think this industry is more resistant to change than anyone realizes,” he added. “So I really appreciate anyone, and especially someone with Geena’s experience, doing the unglamorous things to try and change her, in the trenches of battle with Excel spreadsheets.”

Actress Geena Davis in Los Angeles on April 25, 2023. (Magdalena Wosinska/The New York Times)

Actress Geena Davis in Los Angeles on April 25, 2023. (Magdalena Wosinska/The New York Times)

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Do you want to know how sexist Hollywood is? Check out the Geena Davis spreadsheet