Smoothing the wrinkles

Hollywood, “successful aging,” and the new visibility of older female stars

Authored by: Josephine Dolan

The Routledge Companion to Media and Gender

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  December  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415527699
eBook ISBN: 9780203066911
Adobe ISBN: 9781135076955


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For decades, feminist scholarship has consistently critiqued the patriarchal underpinnings of Hollywood’s relationship with women, in terms of both its industrial practices and its representational systems. During its pioneering era, Hollywood was dominated by women who occupied every aspect of the filmmaking process, both off and on screen; but the consolidation of the studio system in the 1920s and 1930s served to reduce the scope of opportunities for women working in off-screen roles. Off screen, a pattern of gendered employment was effectively established, one that continues to confine women to so-called “feminine” crafts such as scriptwriting and costume. Celebrated exceptions like Ida Lupino, Dorothy Arzner, Nora Ephron, Nancy Meyers, and Kathryn Bigelow have found various ways to succeed as producers and directors in Hollywood’s continuing male-dominated culture. More typically, as recently as 2011, “women comprised only 18% of directors, executive producers, cinematographers and editors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films” (Lauzen 2012: 1).

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