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Why Are Male Directors Still Sexist When it Comes to Casting?

A famous Indonesian director, Hanung Bramantye, became controversial after his sexist statement in an interview with Indonesian local media.

In the interview, he was being asked his opinion on the regeneration of actors and actresses in Indonesia that doesn’t rapidly improve as well as his new movie and why he keeps picking this certain famous local actor in most of his movies. He then offered a pretty sexist statement about how it’s harder being an actor, because not only do they need to be good-looking, they also need to be able to play any role, while all actresses need in order to get cast is to be pretty.

“It’s difficult being an actor, especially male actor. Well for females, like if you’re already prettythen that’s it, that’s the only requirement. But [for] male actors, there are a lot of requirements; not only just good-looking, but [they] must also be versatile.” – Hanung Bramantyo

After his statement sparked up a controversy, he later made a public apology which stated that he regrets his statement and didn’t mean it that way. Hanung himself is famous because of his movie which mostly revolve around romance and depictions of Islam.

The case of sexism in casting call isn’t a new thing in entertainment business and not just in Indonesia; a lot of sexism cases when it comes to casting happens everywhere, especially in Hollywood. Movie directors tend to cast women with a casting that’s asking them to do an “extra” thing, rather than just their actual acting skills.

Megan Fox for example, who apparently had to wash Michael Bay’s Ferrari to get the role in Transformers, or Portia de Rossi, who recently tweeted her sexual harassment experience during a casting, in which she ran off and told her agent after, only to receive an impolite and poised answer.

Another case comes from Shameless’ actor Emmy Rossum, in which she was being asked to come to the director’s office wearing only a bikini for her “audition,” while Game of Thrones’ star Lena Headey was being told by a casting director that the men (in the casting) would take all the audition tapes home and watch it and say “who would you f-“. All those cases are clearly degrading women and objectifying them as merely a sexual object.

So why does this sexist culture exist for women in the movie industry? Simple: the patriarchal culture. Do men get the same treatment as women when they are in a casting for a movie? No. Although there is some risk for men to get a “weird” casting experience or even sexually harassed during a casting call, it’s not as high as the risk for women. These directors (who are mostly men) still think that women are just simply a sexual object with their beauty and often don’t even care about their skills, as long as they are able to make their movies look good with their “sexual appeals.” Women are also rarely represented as the hero or a strong main character in a movie — it’s always sidekicks, wives and helpless women.

This behavior needs to stop. Male directors must start to see how women have the same skills and abilities as men. They need to stop judging women just based on their appearances and start taking notice of their skills. Casting women fairly without any “extra” treatment definitely won’t hurt their reputation as a famous directors. And here’s a thought: sometimes having women as the main heroes is not a bad thing either.

Here is to hoping that male directors try and see this for themselves so that real change can take place for women in the industry.

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Chris is a freshman in college who’s also a thespian who really love musicals and politics, a genderfluid with cool neo-pronouns, ve/ver/vis. ve also loves to write, sing, and reenact scenes from broadway musicals.

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