I'm not sure whether to be depressed or joyous after reading Rachel Abramowitz's Is That A Gun In Your Pocket?
The Premiere magazine reporter's stellar study of the women who broke through the fortress of male-dominated Hollywood is a compelling read, an exceptionally well-researched tome that Abramowitz laboured over for the past eight years. But it also makes you wonder why anyone, regardless of gender, would want to work in that Armani-suited tar pit.
As a movie magazine reporter, Abramowitz linked up with industry hot shots like Sherry Lansing, Dawn Steel and Paula Weinstein and directors including Jodie Foster, Penny Marshall and Nora Ephron. She outlines each woman's childhood and early struggles in the sexist film business, and the triumphs that took every ounce of their strength.
There aren't many stories of being chased around desks by powerful studio heads. Instead, the subjects talk about the fact that everyone in town assumes that they either slept their way to the top or rode there on the coattails of male mentors. What bothers them is the gossip, and we learn that gossip is the Greek fire of Hollywood, a vicious weapon of war that lands at your feet and burns through a career.
It's interesting that so many of the women profiled came from dysfunctional and broken families. But if you looked at most of the men who run Hollywood, you'd see the same case histories. Hollywood rewards outlandish, selfish behaviour, and one of the reasons women have taken so long to break through is that they haven't quite embraced their inner brat and let her loose on the world. When that happens, equality is possible.
And that's depressing.
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