Anne Hathaway has said she now prefers producing to acting. Photo by Jason Kempin.


Anne Hathaway recently said that sexism in Hollywood has ‘forced’ her into producing rather than acting, so Zaib Nasir asks the question: Is sexism in Hollywood still an ongoing problem?

Gender inequality is rampant in every facet of life (at least we are led to believe), but due to the vast influence of Hollywood, it’s an area that’s all too easy to criticise. Within the past few years, feminism has become a pseudo-dirty word, polarising public opinion. But it shouldn’t evoke images of hordes of women taking to the streets and beating up any male in sight – quite the contrary actually – it just means equality. You might be mistaken into thinking equality is something that has already been achieved in entertainment, with the silver screen being dominated with female leads such as in Spy, Trainwreck, or even Inside Out. So why was Hathaway ‘forced’ into producing? Is Hollywood really that bad for women?

First let’s address the brutality of Hollywood, sexism aside – people forget that Hollywood is essentially shallow. This is a sad truth, but the truth nonetheless. It’s vain and self-absorbed. People are angry because of the amount of power the film industry has; the power it has to change public views and opinions, especially in a day and age where media is so accessible. But unfortunately, it remains obsessed with looks and its glamorous façade (obviously this isn’t new information). Actors enter LA to pursue acting as an art form, then realise how superficial the business is; a factory that produces cookie cutter content, and therefore requires women to fill those cookie cutter roles.

There are definitely some anomalies, though. Some popular films do defy convention and perspective, but as a whole consensus this isn’t the case. Liv Tyler said the only parts she was getting offered were ‘wife’ and ‘girlfriend’. Maggie Gyllenhaal revealed she was too old to play the love interest of a 55 year old man. Even the roles women do get seem have an expiry date, and it’s a premature one at that. Once you hit 40, forget getting steady work as an actress. It’s easy to see why Anne Hathaway was forced into producing, out of pure lethargy from the sexist and ageist business she was in, because to them, having total autonomy understandably gives more satisfaction. Not to mention that Hollywood’s top female earners always lag behind men.

Hollywood’s ego is only boosted by the self-aggrandising spectacle that is the Oscars. There’s an almost formulaic biological clock for winning an Oscar: for a man it’s over 40 (you’ve got time DiCaprio), the average age for best actor winner being 44. But for women, well, it’s under 40; the average age for best actress winner is 35. Not so progressive, are we Hollywood? The Oscars are relevant for the following: the average salary increase for male winners equates to $3.9 million, but for women it’s $500,000. Interesting – it’s a business that creates a domino effect of how women are essentially treated in the film industry. It’s not just a gender issue anymore… it’s an establishment issue.

So if Hathaway can chip away at these ideals through her work as a producer, I commend her in doing so.