11 'Feud' Quotes That Perfectly Skewer Hollywood Sexism & Ageism During Joan Crawford & Bette Davis' Time
Despite the fact that Bette Davis and Joan Crawford were both tremendously talented and successful actors, they both struggled to find work after turning 50. Ryan Murphy's FX series Feud addresses the sexist, ageist industry of the 1960s — but the very reason he was inspired to make the series in the first place is because, depressingly enough, there has been very little progress over the past five decades. Throughout the series, a number of Feud quotes completely skewer Hollywood sexism and ageism — in fact, it's rightfully addressed more than once in each episode.
But, as Murphy explained in SiriusXM town hall discussion, the series is also meant to address modern issues. As reported by Entertainment Weekly, the showrunner stated:
“I wanted to make the show because I wanted to tell a story about modern issues that are facing women today, and, oddly enough, nothing’s changed. You’d think things have progressed. They have not... So really it’s a show about sexism and misogyny, and why aren’t women being paid as much as men, and why in our culture we have ‘It’ girls and not ‘It’ boys and why do women feel there’s only room for there to be one successful woman at a time."
For example, women accounted for just 29 percent of protagonists in 2016's top 100 films, according to the Center for Study of Women in Television and Film. Granted, this was a seven percent increase compared to 2015 — but it shows the tremendous gender disparity that continues to plague female actors.
These 11 Feud quotes skewer sexism and ageism with wit and sass, but they also address and important — and relevant — issue.
1. "Men may have built the pedestal, but it's women who keep chipping away at it until it comes tumbling down."
Joan pulled no punches when she responded to Hedda Hopper's comment that "men built the pedestal, darling, not me. There's only room for one goddess at a time."
2. "Everything written for women seems to fall into just three categories: ingénue, mothers, or gorgons."
Joan really wasn't afraid to tell it like it was — and she was fed up with the lack of multi-faceted roles for women.
3. "Men age, they get character. Women age, they got lost."
Much like their boss, Joan's employees weren't afraid to drop some serious truth bombs.
4. “You wanted me to starch your shirts and greet you at the door with a martini in hand and a, ‘How did your day go, darling?’ I’m the one who needed a wife.”
With a healthy dose of sass, Bette explained to her ex-husband that, as a working woman, she was uninterested in playing the role of 1950s housewife — and, in fact, he should have stepped up.
5. "You're casting with the wrong head."
Bette was so not there for it when Aldrich added a young blonde to the cast — and she told him so because, of course.
6. "Scotch gets better when it ages. Broads get sour."
Jack Warner, the ultimate misogynist, summed up just how sexist the Hollywood industry was.
7. "You’re not man enough to satisfy two women."
When Robert deliberately pitted Bette and Joan against each other, his wife Harriet called him out for it — and she really put him in his place.
8. "You know how much power we had then? The same as we have now. Zippo."
Circa 1978, Joan Blondell (Kathy Bates), pointed out that the sexism in Hollywood hadn't improved.
9. "We’ve never needed a man, yet we’re always at their mercy."
As Joan told Hedda Hopper, they don't need men — and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? was proof of that. And, yet, the male-dominated industry forced them to fall into line in order to get any work at all.
10. “I don’t even think there was a girl camel in Lawrence of Arabia.”
Although Baby Jane exceeded expectations (both critically and commercially), Lawrence of Arabia was the biggest box office hit of the year and brought home the Oscar for Best Picture. Joan Blondell's epic quip is one for the ages.
11. “The studio said it was a fluke. They always think it’s a fluke when a movie lead by girls succeeds at the box office.”
This quote sums up and skewers Hollywood's sexism perfectly and succinctly — much like Feud itself.