Justice

Amy Schumer Makes an Important Point About Women's Roles in Movies

May 6th 2016

By:
Lucy Tiven

On Thursday night's episode of "Inside Amy Schumer," the comedian staged a hilarious fake Academy Awards Ceremony to make a very serious point about the "leading roles" women get in big budget Oscar contenders.

The skit addresses the hysterical wife trope — where women are depicted as dutiful spouses waiting for male protagonists to call or return home.

Schumer solicited help from Oscar winning actresses Julianne Moore, Jennifer Hudson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Laura Linney, as well as Steve Buscemi, who presented the award for Best Actress. "Women, am I right?" Buscemi asks, to introduce the nominees.

The titles of the fake nominated films — "The Clumsy Coal Miner," "The Time Traveler's Wife's Husband," "The Wallaby Whisperer," "The Phone Rings Eternal," and "Canadian Sniper" — make it very clear that men are at the center of the action. In each clip, an actress weeps or screams into her phone begging her husband to return from some heroic adventure.

"I know what you're doing over there is important, but when you comin' home baby?" Schumer asks. "I'm your wife!"

Schumer also uses ridiculous Oscar-bait parodies to point out that leading women's roles in action-driven movies don't involve much action.

Jennifer Hudson's cameo went even further to point out that her role is literally to pick up her husband's calls, and it depicts an absurdly emotionally charged moment when she almost misses one. The clip of the "The Phone Rings Eternal," opens with a distraught Hudson running down the stairs to pick up a call. "I'm sorry! I was in the bathroom," she says outrageously. "I'm your wife!"

Schumer wins the award, and she uses the acceptance speech to reinforce the point made in each satirical film teaser.

"Oh my god, I'm so happy first of all I'd like to thank my hair team," she says.

"But more than anything I really want to thank the writers, because you're the ones that come up with all these dynamic roles for women," she continues. "Without you we wouldn't be able to answer the phone."

Playing the wife.

In a Lenny Letter published earlier this week, Lupita Nyong’o slammed sexist Hollywood tropes in response to a reporter who asked, “Why would such a big star choose to do such a small play?”

lupita-nyongo-and-steve-mcqueen-at-oscars

Nyong’o explained that she chooses projects with roles that interest her, and in the letter she named stereotypes that can make women's parts in Hollywood movies somewhat one-dimensional, particularly for actresses of color.

"So often women of color are relegated to playing simple tropes: the sidekick, the best friend, the noble savage, or the clown. We are confined to being a simple and symbolic peripheral character — one who doesn’t have her own journey or emotional landscape ... I think sometimes a singular catharsis can be found in genre storytelling — as I found when playing a thousand-year-old woman (Maz Kanata in 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens') and a wolf mother (Raksha in 'The Jungle Book'). I’m able to be more engaged in roles such as those than I would be in playing 'the wife' when she is written with no motivation or singularity."

Women still aren't getting the same screen time as men.

Despite increased conversation about gender inequality in Hollywood, many blockbusters still aren't passing the Bechdel test — which asks if a movie has at least two women in it who have a conversation about something other than a man.

bechdel-movie-test

As ATTN: has previously reported, a recent study by Polygraph on gender inequality in Hollywood screenplays found that men had 60 percent of the lines in 75 percent of the 2,005 screenplays. In 15 percent of the screenplays, men had 90 percent or more of the lines.

You can read the full study on Polygraph and watch Schumer's sketch below.