Sexism in the entertainment industry might not seem like it’s getting any better, given the persistence of pay gaps and underrepresentation of women in film, but at least we’re getting better at calling it out. Take, for instance, this recent tweet that shows how casting calls for women are somehow getting more ridiculous. Freelance writer Danielle Sepulveres shared screenshots of four casting calls for female roles that are just so bafflingly awful, you need to read them to believe they exist.
Sepulveres is on an email list for casting calls, she told the Huffington Post, which is how these blessedly bad role descriptions fell into her inbox. “I have seen many descriptions of women characters in this vein before,” she continued to HuffPost, “but this seemed to take it to another level.” The character descriptions are stereotypically hypersexual, define female roles based heavily on their relationship to men, and just pretty sexist as a whole. But, hey, at least they don’t pay! (Yes. The rate for the roles is literally “none.”)
One female character is described as a “timeless beautiful from Australia” who is “almost like a porcelain doll,” which I’m assuming either means she doesn’t talk and move or that she is extremely haunted. Another is described as a “drop dead sexy, fireball”. A third, named Heather, is literally described as “sex”. The first characteristic on all four female roles has to do with them being ~*soOOOOooo hot*~ and that’s typically the most dynamic part of their description. Because, like, what else even matters?
The roles are so over-the-top, they sound like satire. Specially, this satirical piece called “Casting Calls for People of Color That Were Not Written by People of Color” from Phoebe Robinson’s book You Can’t Touch My Hair. The characters in this casting call sound like they were written by an alien trying to pass as a human screenwriter and actually kind of getting away with it.
Multiple well-known women have spoken out against sexist treatment in Hollywood. From America Ferrera on being typecast as the “Latina chubby girl” sidekick after she’d won a top award at Sundance to Amy Poehler being asked about work-life balance, women both in front of and behind the camera face questions and comments their male counterparts would rarely if ever be privy to. Sexism in Hollywood can certainly be more insidious with accusations of sexual assault not inhibiting a male actor from being given an Oscar or a male director from being a lauded figure in the industry. Meanwhile, being a woman who makes demands can still lead you to be ostracized and labeled hard to work with.
“There are roles for women where they are the superheroes, or the anti-heroes or even just multi-faceted, interesting, flawed and fun to watch,” Sepulveres told Huffpost. She said women like “Issa Rae, Shonda Rimes, Jennie Snyder Urman, Mindy Kaling [and] Nahnatchka Khan” are helping make the portrayal of women in film more diverse. However, we’ve still got a way to go before casting calls like the one she shared are eradicated entirely.
“It’s likely [the writer] has no idea how these descriptions actually sound,” Sepulveres said to HuffPost, “and maybe this will make the next person dig a little deeper and I don’t know...actually meet a woman or two? Before writing them into their fictional work.” Solid advice.