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Why films are no different to life imitating art, far more than art imitating life.

"Life imitates art far more than art imitates life". Oscar Wilde

I had to include a photo of me taking a picture, recording life, events and never leaving home without it.  In fact, no body leaves home without their camera any more.  It sits in the back pocket, ready for a selfie, to snap a weird combination of objects set aside somewhere, or a recording of any event that is important.  Art imitates life, constantly, and those recordings are of everything that exists, everything that the eye or the heart can see.  Art is not just about photography however, art encapsulates all the creations that come from an enlightened thought or inner gift.  All creations for me are art.  Film is art, and film, also needs to imitate life, but for a long time now, life has been imitating art, meaning that life has been imitating film.  

I'm spurred on today by the comments made by a friend after watching Rogue One; A Star Wars Story, that there were not enough female characters in the film.  I am yet to see Rogue One, but when I do, I know that she will be right. 


 I watch film after film, and none of them are imitating life, none of them show the audience that they can go on a safe journey watching their choice of film that shows a snippet of what society could be like in the world that is created for that particular film, for all of these created worlds are female free, non cultural and non diverse for the most part.  Even in created worlds that have been borne in the writer's imagination, these need to include women, or children, or people from different cultural backgrounds, and people who are diverse, for this is what makes the world go around and what creates unity.  Creating art or films that do not encompass these variants in the characters only means that we are feeding people's minds with an unreality that can scarily become reality.  What on earth is Hollywood up to?  Do we imprint a gender, cultural and diversity inequality map in people's minds, on a subconscious level, so that a gender, cultural and diverse imbalance can continue to exist in society?  Do we really need to let our children see this type of make believe world and have them think that it is real?

Geena Davis identified the gender imbalance in the entertainment industry, and her motto with the institute that she consequently created, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media was that " if she can see it, she can be it."  Girls need to have strong and independent women on screen that they can identify with. Hollywood is creating films with predominantly men in them, meaning that this is what society is seeing and therefore that is what society will try to be.  Life is imitating Art, Wilde knew what he was saying.  

Some interesting statistics that have been substantiated within the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in media are as follows:

  • Males outnumber females 3 to 1 in family films. In contrast, females comprise just over 50% of the population in the United States. Even more staggering is the fact that this ratio, as seen in family films, is the same as it was in 1946.
  • Females are almost four times as likely as males to be shown in sexy attire. Further, females are nearly twice as likely as males to be shown with a diminutive waistline. Generally unrealistic figures are more likely to be seen on females than males.
  • Females are also underrepresented behind the camera. Across 1,565 content creators, only 7% of directors, 13% of writers, and 20% of producers are female. This translates to 4.8 males working behind-the-scenes to every one female.
  • From 2006 to 2009, not one female character was depicted in G-rated family films in the field of medical science, as a business leader, in law, or politics. In these films, 80.5% of all working characters are male and 19.5% are female, which is a contrast to real world statistics, where women comprise 50% of the workforce.
All facts are supported by research conducted by Stacy Smith, Ph.D. at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism

I'd like to expand that not only should films be gender balanced, but they should also be culturally and ethnically balanced, and as diverse as our planet is with the different type of people that inhabit it.  Hollywood needs to change this if audiences are going to continue to watch films.  This is not an affliction that only Hollywood has to deal with, Australia's entertainment industry must change too with the changes that people are asking for; more women in front and behind the camera, more ethnicities represented and more diversity within the characters to showcase the many different types of people that exist.  

It is time that Art imitated life, and not have it the other way around.

Stella Dimadis


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