There’s little debate that Hollywood’s treatment of women has been less than stellar at best — and criminal at worst. While there are patterns of unacceptable behavior currently being examined, not a lot of attention has been paid to how female characters are created and described from the inception of a motion picture.
Kyle Buchanan, along with his Vulture-dot-com colleague, Jordan Crucchiola, rifled through countless old screenplays to find the written descriptions for 50 notable female characters. The women might be young or old, likable or not, lead role or supporting character. But they were all born on the page.
Some interesting — and sometimes frustrating — trends emerge in the details; you may not be shocked to learn that most of these writers spend far more time describing the female character’s physical appearance than they do her male counterpart’s. But whether the descriptions are well-written or problematic, the screenplays offer plenty of insight into how Hollywood views women and creates roles for them.
Vulture's Kyle Buchanan spoke with us about his findings.