On March 7, the Internet Movie Data Base adopted a rating system based on female involvement in a film.
The F-Rating is given to a film that meets at least one of the following criteria: a female director, a female writer or significant female characters on screen.
According to the BBC, “The F-Rating is a great way to highlight women on screen and behind the camera,” said Col Needham, founder and CEO of IMDB.
Of the three criteria, the one almost any movie should meet is the third. Female characters portrayed on the screen should be complex, not simply one-dimensional.
The only possible exception would be if the plot directly excuses it (but that will never be the norm).
It is the opinion of the editorial staff that audience members should be conscious of the content they support and actively seek out movies that hold to an F-Rating standard.
“The rating is designed to support and promote women and redress the imbalance in the film industry,” according to the F-Rating website.
Yes, it is 2017, and yes, the women’s suffrage movement fulfilled its purpose almost a century ago, but there is still inequality today.
In 2016, Dr. Stacy L. Smith and her colleagues at the Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative found in their study, “Inequality in 800 Popular Films,” that, “Out of 4,370 speaking or named characters evaluated, 68.6 percent were male and 31.4 percent were female across the 100 top‐grossing films of 2015. This calculates into a gender ratio of 2.2 male characters to every one female character.”
The same ratio is found in lead roles. In the same study it was found that, “of the top 100 films in 2015, 32 depicted a female lead or co-lead, and of those leads and co-leads, three female actors were from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups.”
The inequality continues behind the camera as well. After conducting its annual Hollywood Diversity Report in 2015, UCLA found a gender ratio between men and women of “8 to 1 among film directors,” and “about 4 to 1 among film writers.”
There’s a clear disparity of gender representation in Hollywood, never mind the pay gap, and it’s not because women just aren’t interested in film.
In Malina Saval’s article, “Film Schools Open Path to Hollywood Diversity,” it was found that the University of Southern California’s School of the Cinematic Arts has risen from having four times as many men as women in the graduating class of 1995, to about a 50-50 split in 2015.
Women want to work in film. Perhaps what’s keeping them out isn’t so much the will of a female filmmaker, but the will of those who have the power to open doors.
UCLA’s 2015 Diversity Report found that “At the time of (the) report’s writing, the corps of CEOs and/or chairs running the 18 studios examined was 94 percent white and 100 percent male. Meanwhile, the studios’ senior management corps was 92 percent white and 83 percent male. An accounting of industry unit heads revealed a bit more gender diversity (just 61 percent male), if not racial and ethnic diversity (96 percent white).”
For how liberal Hollywood’s image is, it’s actually an industry of a pretty conservative business model. If there’s not a big reason to change, it won’t happen. Hollywood has historically been run by white males, and unless consumers show they want equality, by embracing the F- Rating for example, it’ll more or less stay that way.
The third criteria of the F-Rating was inspired by the Bechdel Test. The test takes a work of fiction and asks if, at any point during the movie, two women have a conversation that isn’t centered on a male character.
Disney’s Frozen and Pixar’s The Incredibles are examples of movies that pass. Toy Story and Monsters Inc. don’t, and this brings up an important point.
As Caroline Siede said in an article for The A.V. Club, these movies, “celebrate male friendships.”
They are specifically focused on male protagonists, and that’s fine. They’re great movies. But the females that do appear in these films are practically purposeless.
Asking the questions of the Bechdel test, essentially the third criteria of the F-Rating, is important. Stories should accurately depict the worlds they inhabit.
America is not a nation of men. About half the population is female and deserves to have fair representation on and off the screen.
According to NPR, “Films that feature all three qualifiers — that is, that were written by, directed by, and feature complex women characters — IMDB awards a triple-F rating. Thus far, there are 81 films that have qualified for a triple-F.”
If the same criteria existed for male representation in film, how many movies would get a “triple-M” rating?