Time’s Up for Disney’s Lack of Women in Film

I sit here after watching this year’s Golden Globes telecast. This will go up a week later, but the sentiments shared through the show can still be heard and felt. From Oprah’s stunning 9-minute oratory to Reese & Laura’s beautiful words after winning their respective awards for Big Little Lies, the #MeToo and #TIMESUP movements are here to stay.

We are living in a fabulous time for women. No longer must they feel the need to stay silent about pay disparity, sexual harassment and assault, or any lack of equality in any medium. However, this movement has grown out of Hollywood. The back-to-back Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey draggings have kick-started the process of weeding out the men who do not deserve any accolade of any kind, but are someone still allowed to flourish in the entertainment industry. (See here and here and here)

With this movement to weed out the bad also allows for a push to bring forward the good. Women deserve starring roles in films. Women deserve directing jobs. Women deserve to write screenplays and edit films and sound mix and costume design and score. They deserve every role any male has ever had, period end-of-story.

If we look through a Disney lens, we can see that the movement has started creating small waves. A Wrinkle in Time is being written by Jennifer Lee and directed by Ava DuVernay (the first woman of color to every be given the reigns to direct a film with a budget over $100 million). Mulan is being directed by Niki Caro. Now, there are a few screenplays co-written by women (Wreck-It Ralph 2, Nutcracker and the 4 Realms, Christopher Robin, Aladdin), but the only women directors lined-up are Ava, Niki, and Jennifer Lee (co-directing Frozen 2).

If we bring Marvel and Lucasfilm into the fray, we find that Captain Marvel is the only one with a woman attached and, once again, it’s co-directing with a man.

Disney has found it very easy to pat themselves on the back for hiring women directors, but three out of a double-digit slate is humorous.

Two big budget franchises are being discussed for Disney right now, with Artemis Fowl and Sword in the Stone adaptations on the way. These can end up being multi-film franchises with big bucks and big opportunities paired with them. Yet, Artemis is going to Kenneth Branagh (white man) and the Sword is going to, reportedly, Ridley Scott (white man). Now, there is nothing wrong with these men. They are great directors. However, if we are championing ourselves for allowing women to join the conversation and be a part of these films, going right back to their old white men tricks leaves something big to be desired.

I don’t want to hear any excuses from them, either. It’s not like women directors are hard to find, they just aren’t getting the work because no one will allow them to have it. Queen Sugar and this upcoming season of Jessica Jones have female directors for every single episode. Hire some female directors. It’s not hard, you’re just lazy.

Look, here’s a nifty database that compiles over 1000 female directors that would love to be able to put their spin on a live-action fairytale or an original story! Now there’s even less of an excuse!

Same goes for screenwriters (I’m all for a collaborative effort, but why not MULTIPLE women?!), editors, songwriters, composers, etc. Every role can be a woman and every role should be a woman.

On top of all this, we still have to deal with John Lasseter being the worst. When statements come out against someone saying that they needed chaperones for an adult male to make sure he wasn’t creepy and gross to character performers, he needs to go. No 6-month sabbatical. He needs to go.

Since the onslaught of men being outed as awful people is coming at such a rapid pace, some still want to look to their artistic achievements as  reason enough for them to remain in the public eye, but that can’t happen. It continues to perpetuate the cycle and fineness with harassment and assault occurring. Even if John Lasseter is the person who saved Disney Animation, it doesn’t matter. Nothing is worth keeping around someone who has ruined many women’s lives.

The best thing for Disney to do would be replace him with a woman to show solidarity and to help get more women into roles that are lacking their presence, within animation especially, but within the company as a whole. I hear Jennifer Lee is free…

Time’s Up. Movies aren’t a man’s game any longer.

(To donate to the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, providing subsidized legal support to those affected by workplace sexual harassment and assault, head here)

“All the Stars” are Aligned for the Black Panther Soundtrack

I would argue that the last time a non-musical soundtrack became a bonafide sensation was Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? and that was in 2000. The soundtrack went 8 times platinum, won Album of the Year at the 2002 Grammys, and has become more popular than the film itself.

Soundtracks used to be an integral part of the movie experience, adding to the anticipation or the post-viewing coma. You’d buy the album the moment it was released to get you excited for the movie, go see the movie opening weekend, then obsess over the album some more after you watched.

For some reason, that experience has vanished, mostly because we consume music in new and innovative ways. We are in a single-based music industry now, and because of this studios don’t find that creating a perfect soundtrack is as beneficial to create “buzz” around their film as much as one song can. Look at the Hunger Games franchise: We received soundtracks, but they were never as buzzy as one song from each (“Safe and Sound” for the OG film and “The Hanging Tree” from Mockingjay Part 1, which became an accidental smash.)

Luckily, Disney is helping revitalize the dying soundtrack genre by bringing Kendrick Lamar, the biggest male rapper in the world right now, to produce and personally curate the Black Panther soundtrack. I was stunned when I read the headline, ’cause that is a HUGE get.

It shows the power of the representation. When you have a black superhero, in addition to some strong kicka** black women, the community you are representing is going to lift you up and deliver the results you want to see. Kendrick, one of the biggest and most sought after stars today, will create a soundtrack because he wants to support the representation and his community. It’s common sense, and for some reason, entertainment companies still don’t get it. I mean, just look at this video Ava DuVernay tweeted out the other day:

THAT is the power of representation. THAT is the power of creating heros that represent all people, not just straight white men. THAT is the power of visibility. Ugh, the video makes me so happy. ANYWHO, back to music…

With the announcement came the release of the first single off the album, “All the Stars” sung by Kendrick Lamar and SZA (who is quickly becoming one of my favorite artists right now). This song is…how do I put this eloquently? Everything. It is everything. It is serving up an ethereal trip to another dimension by way of Wakanda purity realness. SZA’s voice on the track gives me chills. CHILLS, I SAY!

If this is the tone and mood we have to look forward to on this soundtrack, it’s going to become the Album of the Year, I can guarantee it. I was already stoked for Black Panther, even as a non-superhero fan, because of how crazy good it looks (and my queen, Lupita Nyong’o), but this soundtrack is getting me even more excited.

Be sure to check out “All the Stars” on Apple Music or wherever you listen and to go see Black Panther when it heads to theaters on February 16th.

 

Mackryn Designs are Undeniably Delightful

I’m trying out a new format for these small-shop features, so let me know if you like it!

1. How’d you get started?

We actually got started in part because I [Chris] wanted to showcase Taryn’s art. That was the main thing. I am a digital motion graphic artist by trade, so I had the tools, but Taryn is the true artist. She used to sketch even before we were together, and I was always a big fan. Together with our love of Disney, my dream was really to have people wearing her artwork on their clothes to celebrate her talent. So we decided to try to make a business out of it.

2. What’s the design process like?

It used to be a little bit more cumbersome when we first started, but we’ve been able to streamline the process since. Generally, we brainstorm ideas together, ask our friends about what they are interested in, do research on what people are excited about first. Then Taryn sketches an idea on an iPad Pro. We usually go back and forth on a few versions of that and when she is done, I’ll transfer it to my Adobe products and clean it up for print. But, mainly the ideas come somewhat organically from what’s happening around us at the time.

3. Proudest moment thus far?

Running this business together has really taught us how to rely on each other more, so there are a lot of proud moments. But, I think we would both agree that our proudest moment was the release of our Powerline Collection. It was very much a sleeper design in terms of its initial impressions in the market, but as soon as it was released the outpouring of support was overwhelming and something we were not expecting. It really helped validate the hard work we were putting in and drove us to go further.

The support and love from everyone we have interacted with is what keeps us going each day.

4. Plans for the future?

Take over the world! Ha. Honestly, as with most small business ventures, the goal is to be able to turn it into a full-time business. So what’s plotted out for our future is growth growth growth. We want to one day be able to make things ourselves instead of sending them out to a printer, mostly so we can offer more options, ink styles, and extras. And of course imagining bigger and better things to put on shirts people will hopefully love.

5. Go-to item you have to wear at the parks?

I, (Chris) am a huge hat person, so as weird as it sounds I think I’d have to say a hat. I’m a bit of a collector. I’ve kind of made it part of my look at this point. People used to point out my different hat choices when I used to Periscope, so at some point I became the guy with the crazy hats.

I, (Taryn) would say I don’t necessarily have a staple “go-to” piece that I have to wear each time I’m in the parks (besides my Dooney Magic Band of course) BUT almost 99% of the time I am wearing a disney tee or tank with some cut off jean shorts and a flannel wrapped around my waste(I have them in many colors). That’s super silly, but its my go-to every single time I get dressed for the parks.

6. If you had comps and a time machine, what moment in Disney history would you experience?

As much as we’d love to say we would have loved to be there in the 70’s during the opening of The Magic Kingdom (which is our second answer), I think we’d have to be ridiculous and say when Jesse and the Rippers played on the castle stage during the Full House taping. Ha what dorks we are.

Be sure to visit Mackryn Designs to pick up some delightful designs!