Thursday, February 24, 2011

Women in Hollywood Don't Get a Second Chance

No one will ever accuse Hollywood of being an equal opportunity type of town. Based off just your looks, a career could be over before it ever starts. For those who do make it in Hollywood, trying to stay on top is a job in itself. But there’s a more subtle type of discrimination at work in the entertainment industry. Whereas men are able to bounce back from scandal relatively easily, women have a much harder time.

Hollywood has always been filled with stories of preferential treatment towards men, between being much higher paid to the types of films that are made to the opportunities that are given to men in the film industry versus women. Last year’s Academy Awards was groundbreaking because Kathryn Bigelow was the first female director to ever win the coveted award.

But a more dubious distinction is given to men like Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen and Chris Brown. Each of the men has had scandals and controversies that lesser man would not have been able to rebound. However, to varying degrees they were all able to continue working and even regain some of their popularity. Gibson, the most lethal of the trio, made comments that should have killed his career, but he has continued directing and acting. Sheen, until possibly this week, seemed to have the entire industry turning a blind eye to his antics. Sure, his career took a hit after the whole Heidi Fleiss scandal, but his career was more successful than ever afterwards thanks to “Two and a Half Men.” Brown, two years ago became a leper after beating then girlfriend Rihanna. Many thought his career might be dead because she was a pop princess. Despite some minor hiccups along the way – thanks Twitter! – Brown is now back on the Billboard charts with a hit single, “Yeah 3x.”

Their careers have rebounded to different degrees, and Sheen is checking to see exactly how much latitude CBS is going to allow him. But more to the point, it seems that the industry, and in turn America, is willing to take a gamble to give these men a second (sometimes, a third or fourth) chance. What you don’t see though are many women getting these types of chances.

Take a look at Winona Ryder, who’s drugged up kleptomania spree is nothing compared to brutally beating someone, going on an anti-Semitic tirade, or putting hundreds of people’s jobs on the line because you feel like going on a bender. Ryder hasn’t been able to recover from the fall that her career took, mostly taking either bit parts or roles in independent films for the last decade. Until that point she had been nominated for multiple Academy Awards and her biggest roles afterwards were in Adam Sandler’s “Mr. Deeds” and in the recent bomb “The Dilemma.”

Close to matching Sheen’s problems is Lindsay Lohan. In and out of rehab along with other legal issues, Lohan has made as much of a career from the tabloids as she used to by being an actress. People turned on her quite quickly when trouble began to unravel for her. It’s only been in the last couple weeks that people have even considered getting behind the actress and hoping for a comeback. Whether she will or not is another story for another time, but one thing is for sure. If you don’t have anyone backing you up then you have a much smaller chance.

Will Hollywood ever look at women and men the same way? It’s doubtful, but everyone deserves a second chance regardless of gender.