IWFF: "Just because she can shoot it doesn’t make her a feminist!" An interview with Melissa Silverstein
- Series: Kunst
Her blog Women And Hollywood is the most important feminist voice in the blogoshere regarding pop culture and film industry. 2010LAB.tv had the opportunity to meet Melissa Silverstein after the press conference at the Dortmund / Cologne International Women's Film Festival. Together with Maren Kroymann and Claudia Landsberger, the American blogger will be a part of the judging panel picking the winning film of the competition.
Melissa Silverstein has landed in Germany just a few hours before the press conference. Although tired, she is very curious and excited about the next days because this is her first visit to Germany. She is impressed by the diversified and committed festival programme in Dortmund.
After hearing all the announcements at the press conference, what do you expect?
Well, I’m excited to meet the directors and see their films and really understand and get a sense of their work and their vision.
What does the invitation to this festival mean to you?
It’s exciting to me because I’m a blogger, I work in front of my computer all day long. Sometimes you don’t know that people are reading you. I mean you see your analytics and then it’s like “oh, someone likes this”. And then you see comments and say “oh someone likes this”.
But to get an invitation like this is very humbling and exciting because it means that your work is transcending just your little computer screen.
Your blog „Women & Hollywood“ is the most important contribution to the topic of women in current film resp. pop culture. You have said that the role of women in Hollywood is very backward compared to the one they had in the 80s.
That’s a question people are thinking about a lot and something that I have explored also. What happened to the strong women who came right out of the feminist movement in the seventies and who were on screen in the 80s and early 90s and then they just kind of disappeared? I don’t know why they have disappeared; there are so many different theories. How the blockbuster became the way that Hollywood talks. How it started focussing on the young male viewer.
Women were big stars! I mean, Lily Tomlin, Bette Midler – those were the days men and women went to the movies together to see those people because there was no “I’m gonna not see that Lily Tomlin movie” – it was never about that.
But then all of a sudden, and I can’t figure out when or why it happened, there was this kind of sexist divide where they say “this movie’s about a woman” then a guy won’t go to see it. But if this movie’s about a man, women go see it because that’s universal.
I don’t understand why that is such a big deal. And noone really does.
So it hasn’t been a decision made by the audience, but by the Hollywood movers and shakers…
Yes. They think that a male star helps selling the product overseas because now 65 percent of the revenues are now made there.
And so the best movies are movies which star men blowing things up and have very little talking. Have you ever seen a movie that stars a woman who has a little bit of talking and just constantly blows things up? No. Okay, maybe Angelina Jolie… but that’s one.
But you have - week after week- guys blowing things up. It becomes part of this narrative – that I call it – of how Hollywood does its business. And what happens is that women are left out.
Let's talk about two current films featuring female leading characters: Black Swan and Sucker Punch.
Sucker Punch is a horrible movie! And I don’t think that woman are the stars of that movie. Even if the woman are the leads in that movie they are not stars of that movie.
Black Swan was my favourite, but it was from a woman’s perspective so I give them a lot of props because they made a lot of money with that, and Natalie Portman was already an A-star but now she is top because she won the Oscar.
What Sucker Punch illuminates is the fact that they really thought that they could get the boys and the girls in that movie. They have girls with – you know – “girl power”, girls kicking ass, and the boys beating up.
Was they miscalculated was that it was a terrible movie, and women were offended and men actually were also offended. When you’re start offending boys even in these movies, you are dead.
Actually, there are women considering this portayals of women as ironic, postmodern…
……and empowering, yes. And it’s not! Just because you give a girl a gun doesn’t make it a female empowerment movie. And I think that’s what the problem is. Just because she can shoot it doesn’t make her a feminist.
photos (Lea e il gomitolo, 1913 & Melissa Silverstein): International Womans Film Festival 2011