Why More Film Directors Should Direct “Like Girls”

lilly and lana wachowski

Lilly Wachowski (L) and Lana Wachowski (R)

REMEMBER that whole #likeagirl campaign from a few years ago? Where the teenage girls and boys run like buffoons when asked to run like a girl, then the girls who haven’t gone through puberty yet run strong? I still have PTSD attacks thinking about that ad; I was “mooed” at in middle school by the ADF (Anti-Diana Force) for being “fat,” just because I got my period before everyone else. The worst. Anyway, after re-watching it, I also remember how much it resonated with people and how sad it was to see that catch-22 that still affects women: when you attempt to do something strong, and therefore considered more “male,” you are automatically marginalized into a weaker, “feminized” version of it. You can see that phenomenon’s perfect distillation today in the unnecessary existence of different razors for men and women. Hello? If you nick us, do we not bleed the same? Sexist razors aside, while women  have a long way to go in gaining equality and breaking down those antiquated barriers, I think it’s important to recognize the trans community for helping to make that path easier and broader.

The trans community has recently come to the forefront of public consciousness, but faces so many barriers and stigmas they are working against and need to break through in order to not only be seen as people, but as respected and celebrated people. Yet, thanks to Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, Caitlyn Jenner, and The Wachowski sisters, women may be able to run like girls or direct action movies like girls and even, gasp, succeed at it.

When Caitlyn Jenner first made her transition public, I remember reading somewhere that Guido Kratschmer, the guy who won the Silver medal after Bruce Jenner’s Gold, made a joke that he lost the Olympics to a girl. So many people wanted to focus on taking Caitlyn Jenner’s gold medal away from her because she was a female winning in a man’s category, but honestly, how great was it for all the young women in the world to know that running like a girl can mean you can beat out all the other men in the world?

Not to make this all about me or anything, but I’m not a runner. I’m not an athlete. And frankly, I’m pushing 30, so those days of trying to have a professional career as an athlete are far behind me — if not left on that field in middle school. For better or for worse, I’m a writer in the entertainment industry. An industry that has failed to represent women in the workplace way more than any other industry with an HR department. As reported in Variety in 2014:

Women comprised 13% of directors on the top 700 films, but just 7% on the top 250 films. They made up 13% of writers on the top 700 films, and 11% on the top 250 films. And 27% of producers on the top 700 films were female, while 23% on the top 250 films were female. And women accounted for 9% of cinematographers on the top 700 films, but 5% of cinematographers on the top 250 pictures. The number of female editors stayed consistent at 18% in both test samples.

So for those of you who work at big corporate offices with elevators and cubicles and stuff, just imagine walking into your 700-person company and only seeing 13 women. From there, just imagine being one of those 13 women and saying, “Hey, I’ve been here for awhile, I’m the best person for this position, and I’d like a promotion,” just to be told, “Yeah you do have all the talent but we make computers here and women don’t typically like technology very much so we are going to give it to this guy next to you.”

I use this as an example because people actually believe that about women and tech, so it’s far more closer to reality than not. It absolutely encapsulates the logic that prevents women from being asked to direct big-budget action movies. According to every sexist, one-dimensional-thinking dolt out there, women don’t like action movies; they prefer romantic comedies or chick flicks, so that’s what they should direct (if they want to direct at all). I don’t think that’s true and I know a lot of women who would disagree with that as well. In fact, there are statistics to back this assertion up. When the first installment of The Hunger Games franchise — an action movie, at its core — was released in 2012, marketers polled male and female teens to gauge interest in the weeks leading up to the premiere; 73% of female teens said they were excited to watch the movie, compared to 48% of male teens. Regardless of your taste, the theory that men should only direct movies men like and women should only direct movies women like — you know, running like a girl — is bogus.

Hollywood has had a few years to get used to the fact that “the Wachowski brothers” is an inaccurate description for the minds behind such action blockbusters as Assassins, V for Vendetta, and Speed Racer. Lana Wachowski, who was previously known as Larry Wachowski, went public with her transition in 2010. Just last week, Lilly Wachowski joined her sister and told the world that her identity is — and always has been — female, and requested that people stop calling her Andrew. This news means that The Matrix, an action franchise raking over 2 billion dollars, was not directed by two men, or even a man and a women, but by two women. The same goes for all the rest of the works in their impressive oeuvre. But I thought all those action and assassin and animation-inspired movies are for boys, right? Maybe now, men who lost the directing gig to these two women will realize what Guido Kratschmer did with Caitlyn Jenner. And then maybe the rest of the industry will realize it may just pay off to direct “like a girl.”