Nearly two years ago I had the pleasure of being invited to join a panel at the then upcoming SCMS (Society of Cinema and Media Studies) conference set for Seattle. As you know that was canceled due to Covid with the hopes of reconvening in Colorado in 2021. That became a virtual conference but our group decided to reapply our panel and we four were able to ‘meet’ on Zoom on Sunday and present: Writing Between the Lines: Feminist Strategies for Historical Absences, Cliché, and the Unreliable Narrator.
Here you can watch a clip from my part of the presentation,
“When Men Forget Women: The Many Ways Male Screenwriters Fail to Mention their Female Colleagues in Oral Histories”
Film reviewers are lousy unreliable narrators because they claim every movie belongs to a director right? So in this case we’re crediting how wonderful this Academy Award-winning adaptation is and they never once mentioned Sarah or Victor for that matter. Give him a break right? I blame these film reviewers. As we all know it was Francois Truffaut who helped create the whole authorship theory in his journal and of course Bogdanovich built on that because he loved it so much and by hearing the idea that directors own films we lose writers and we doubly lose women writers. We also blame Ben Hecht a little bit as a joke because he was an early writer and he didn’t care about credits. He just was used to working as a writer for hire. You know in the early days the original Copyright Act said that author shall include employer. So the studios are going to take credit as the authors of these films which begins to erase the names of these women who worked on them. All these studio heads are terrible unreliable narrators. They never credit the women that worked for them for many years and as we know when they started to take monetary control over the business they took women like Francis Marion and Anita Loos and they told them they could be junior writers if they wanted to stay on at the studios and so they left right? They wrote themselves out of history because of the behavior of these gentlemen. They thought of course that movies were like assembly lines and so who could trust that there was one author. There were many authors which ruined everything. They felt the playwright sold the product and a screenwriter sold a service.
Watch this entire presentation