Descriptions Of Female Characters In Hollywood Scripts Are Hilarious

--ly awful.

11/02/2016 6:55 AM AEDT | Updated 13/02/2016 7:43 AM AEDT
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JANE is in her mid-30s and attractive, even now with dark semi-circles underlining her closed eyes. JK, this is American actress Sheila Terry.

Update: This story has been updated with comment from producer Ross Putman.

Ross Putman, a producer who's worked on a few small films, is apparently looking for his next project. As he reads through script after script, he's taken to tweeting out descriptions of female characters he comes across. 

I can't look away. Sure, it's screenwriting convention to tap out concisely worded character descriptions. Screenwriters know their readers are almost certainly pressed for time, so best to get to the point! But seeing all of these lady characters represent thinly veiled versions of the same boring tropes -- the hot girl who dresses tragically badly, the hot girl who is surprisingly smart, the hot girl who used to be more hot but is still pretty hot -- is really something. 

Putman says he's copied the descriptions verbatim aside from the characters' names, which he's changed to JANE:

When reached for comment, the producer told The Huffington Post that he's worked in the film industry for years, and has seen plenty of perfectly fine introductions to female characters from men and women screenwriters alike.

"But over time, I started to just notice that there were so many scripts engaging in this casual misogyny, so much that it wasn't an outlier. It was a pattern," Putman said. He clarified that his Twitter account isn't limited to those troubling descriptions, but aims to present the good with the bad -- illustrating a skew toward the latter. Take, for example, a description introducing a woman as "attractive, intelligent."

"First of all, she's attractive first, intelligent second. Second of all, why do we need to say that? It doesn't help you describe a character. It's just vague, bad writing. But it's also subtly sexist in a way that's not appropriate," Putnam said.

If there was still any doubt that sexism in Hollywood is everyone's problem -- from lowly writers to big studio chairpeople -- Putman's Twitter feed is clear evidence to the contrary. But the account isn't meant to shame individuals. Rather, Putnam hopes that it sparks a conversation about the way people -- men and women -- think about female characters. 

"Ultimately, it comes down to this: If you had a stronger base of women behind the camera, this kind of thing wouldn't fly," the producer explained. "But if you feel like, 'Oh, I'm sending this script to another guy, and then a guy is going to be a director, and a guy is going to be the writer, and a guy is going to be producer, and a guy's going to be the cinematographer -- and the only women involved are going to be unimportant' -- then this kind of thing continues to proliferate."

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