There’s been a lot of talk recently over at English Dave’s, on the SP e-bulletin and on Robin’s blog (ok, I started that one) about the issue of gender and whether the UK is living up to its transatlantic cousin’s standards in terms of churning out quality television drama.
Whilst whether the UK is as “good” as the US has to be a question of interpretation one could argue CSI vs. Silent Witness, ER vs. Casualty et al until the cows come home, drawing not only on opinions on writing and directing etc but also philosophical notions of media impreialism – the question of gender, though perhaps more loaded, probably presents far more ammo for conversation.
I’ve always been of the view that women are from Venus and men from the depths of Hades since I’ve never met one who replaces the loo roll when it runs out, ever (love you really fellas), but I’ve been forced of late to consider my stance on media stuff. Whilst there’s no question that I’m a “Sisters Doin’ It For Themselves” type of gal in real life and I’d sooner stick pins in my eyes than become one of those simpering wives out of Stereotype World who bake bread and darn whilst discussing the wonders of kittens, I have begun to wonder if I am male or female in terms of how I consume my media products. Let’s consider the evidence.
Movies. Whilst all movies can be watched by all people, I think it’s pretty fair to say that genres are favoured by one gender over another: rom-com is not also known as the “chick flick” for no reason and I’ve noticed, queuing at the Odeon to watch my beloved horrors and action movies there are usually not many other single females on their own (I am often on my own – not because I’m sad and have no friends, honest – but because I’m going for the EXPERIENCE, not a social call: if I wanted to be sociable, I’d meet friends in a cafe, not a cinema). In this same way after quizzing some of my male friends they too admit they go to the cinema on their own or even watch DVDs alone first before watching them with friends since “this way they don’t miss anything”. VERDICT: MALE.
TV. My TV watching is extremely varied. I watch all the soaps, some reality TV (stuff like Hell’s Kitchen as opposed to Big Brother though) and a hell of a lot of kids’ TV, though I only watch one game show: Deal or No Deal. I tend to watch TV only after 6 o’clock however, since I listen to the radio throughout the day. Though I watch “female” UK drama and more traditionally “male” US drama, I watch probably 60/40 in British shows’ favour, though since we got digital and I discovered 5 US, I’ve added numerous American crime shows to my list and added approximately one hour to my viewing schedule. Crucially, though it may appear on the surface that I am a telly addict, I’m usually multi-tasking of an evening. This may include making the next day’s dinner, writing notes for script reports and/or helping my son with his homework. VERDICT: FEMALE.
MUSIC. Whilst it’s no secret that I wouldn’t know what to do with an iPod if someone hit me round the head with it and I don’t really see what the point of a podcast is, even if you can download them to your PC (I’m just. not. interested), no one can accuse my music collection of being female. With names like Type O Negative, Korn Tool, Nine Inch Nails etc in there you can imagine what I am: a goth type. I’ve even managed to get semi-technical and store it on my computer as well. Wooooh. VERDICT: MALE.
RADIO. I like Radio 2 a lot: they play a lot of eighties, my fave decade and I enjoy the current affairs show in the morning. I’ve developed a liking for digital radio of late since I realised you can get it through the TV (duh) and I’ve developed a liking for radio drama since preparing for The Royal Tapes and also for Silver Street on BBC’s Asian Network. I’ve also discovered the listen again facility, how joyous is that? In addition, I like the Kerrang Channel, since it plays all my faves like Rammstein et al. Though I started listening to the radio for work (getting a feel for radio drama in particular), I can now honestly say I like this medium a lot, especially since it allows for my multi-tasking at the same time. VERDICT: FEMALE.
INTERNET. I use the blogs every day, obviously and most days create a post, sometimes two though rarely three. I read the news and I read a lot of research stuff about…stuff. Just recently I’ve developed an obsession with anacondas for example, though a few weeks ago it was Co2 ommissions. I also like to look at old black and white stills Google Images and read the accounts of survivors of WW2, a particular interest of mine. I never read about Big Brother, I never read Gossip Columns though I do take many online tests a day, ranging from between IS YOUR FENG SHUI MAKING YOU DEPRESSED? right through to HOW ADDICTED TO SMOKING ARE YOU? (Which incidentally my score was “not very”, unsurprisingly, considering I don’t smoke!). VERDICT: Not sure…BOTH?
So… What am I? Not entirely sure. But that’s hardly surprising, considering this is an entirely unscientific testing process. But shows we’re not as boxed-in as we might think, anyway. Interesting.
What are you?
Interesting question, Lucy. I HATE rom-coms but I do love a war film (THIN RED LINE) and anything about masculinity in crisis. Not for any sadistic all-men-are-bastards reason I might add, but because it fascinates me. This may be to do with my father dying when I was 11. It may be because I am descended from a line of long-lived madwomen. It’s more likely that it’s because since my daughter and her boyf moved out, I am the only female in the house and I’m always glad of a clue into the menfolk’s inner workings. I don’t think that makes me male, I think it makes me complex and fascinating. But you knew that.
I hate shopping, don’t watch soaps (or even TV that much), love movies of all types except horror/gorno and listen to indie/emo/boys with guitars. Guess I’m a boy then. Except for the gardening, cooking, and boobs
80’s music is a fav of mine, too! (not 1480’s by the way)
But my movie favorites are perplexing – Bond, Die Hard, Matrix, but also Mary Poppins, the Sound of Music, and The Meaning of Life. Romcom needs to be really GOOD, or else I squirm. Does that mean I’m bad at being a girl?
TV – South Park, John Stewart and Stephen Colbert all airing on Comedy Central. Oh, and Countdown with Keith Olberman (the only news program worth watching here in the states)…very boyish, no?
I agree with elinor – these films do allow women a glimpse into the male psyche, especially the writer’s, and if there’s a handsome male lead in a “made for manly men” movie, IMHO the film is more likely to attract a female audience. So I’m not sure if those kinds of movies are really made just for the guys…
Well, I’m not *entirely* sure about this- the joke in my relationship is that I’m the “girl” and my girlfriend is the “boy”, because she is ultra competitive, driven, has a habit of “removing” herself emotionally rather than dealing with feelings/ tensions, and prefers not to “talk it out”, likes cars. I hate confrontation, am sometimes teeth-grindingly non-judgemental, not jealous to the point of apathy, and tend to be good at reading emotions, have to “talk it through”, hate all sports and ask when people get a new car “what colour is it?” BUT I love computer games, gadgets, films with explosions and my girlfriend is organised, much better at meeting new people and throws a great party! Which makes us… a mess. Just like everyone else, I suspect!
I wouldn’t say that reading my work would give you much of an insight into the inner workings of the male psyche if only because I prefer writing women, and will ALWAYS reset to the heroine default if left alone (did the other day with my Teen Hitchcock 25 WOL, protagonist was male – me thinking of “Brick” – and I suddenly thought, “meh, a bit seen it, what would freshen this material… what if the group of friends had a sex change? If they were girls the dynamic does a total 180…” And off we go. Why – as a straight, male, often genre writer – do I prefer writing women? Dunno. Just because- and I think I write women quite well (so far people who read the work tend to agree). End of the day I’m just writing people, though, and gender doesn’t really come into it.
I suppose I believe – not terribly controversially – that everyone is a very muddy blend of characteristics that people tend to label as gender specific and that we should concentrate more on our similarities rather than our differences. Maybe the labels, although understandably seductive, aren’t terribly useful.
Is aggression very “male”, say? I’ve met some very aggressive women in my time, even though I’ve probably met more aggressive men- and does that mean “aggressive” music (industrial/ thrash/ metal) is “male”? Does “emotionally aggressive” music count (early P J. Harvey?)
In TV, for instance, do people believe a show like “BUFFY” is a “girl” show because it had an incredibly strong female lead and dealt with empowerment? It’s probably my favourite show ever ever, and I know many men who feel the same way. I love Buffy the character because she was complex, and I felt deeply engaged in her life, loves, triumphs, failings and heartbreaks (never fancied her, that’s not way the show meant to me– it was always the emotional connection). The (superb) new version of Galactica is VERY engaged in its female characters and their stories, has a very large and vocal female component to their fan base, but I’m sure to the outsider it feels like a very “boysie” show. What does that tell us… er, dunno.
Personally I don’t buy this notion of a yawning great gulf of understanding between the sexes- and it would make me a pretty poor scribbler if I didn’t understand 50% of my characters! Men and women are people, and people’s personalities are formed in the same way. That means, ultimately, everyone is understandable- if you put the effort in. Plus, you’ll normally find more things you share than you expect. But isn’t that always the way in life? Tsk.
I know we weren’t really talking about any of this, but I accidentally stepped onto this here soap box and became very long-winded and boring. Apologies all. Shall we talk about Iraq now? Eh? Eh? Hey, don’t all run away! Come back– I’ve got lots of opinions on Doctor Who as well! HEY!
I’m with Gavin … almost 100% … even down to the relationship bit, which is scary, though I’ve been married for over 20 years.
People are people. All these supposed classifications are just broad generalisations which have lots of exceptions.
Hey-ho, too serious.
I write female characters as the the leads in everything I do, and they’re usually kick-ass (at least, in the end). And, since I’m at home most of the time I do the school runs, the cooking and the washing.
I like a good rom-com but I prefer action, SF/F — CSI, House and detective shows (I like solving puzzles).
And I’m rubbish at multi-tasking.
I would have thought you’d like i-pods and podcasting Lucy, as they are great for multi-tasking. I listen to the Creative Screenwriting podcasts on my i-pod when I’m doing the housework.
Li, I say I’m not interested but what I really mean is I AM AFRAID OF CHANGE…
I can understand that! I’m usually very slow to catch on to new technology. I didn’t have a mobile for years until my boyfriend finally bought me one and he also bought me my i-pod and had to show me how to use it. But now I’m hooked on it. You can listen to the podcasts without an i-pod though – I’m sure you’d love the Creative Screenwriting ones.
I heard that you could do that – David tried to download a podcast to our PC but unfortunately it’s so shit it couldn’t cope with it, kept pausing, wouldn’t play properly. Maybe when i finally get round to getting a newq one…who am I kidding? I’ll use this PC til it explodes, just like the last one!
I think the REAL question here is…
…How on earth can you develop an obsession with anacondas???
hello! did u miss me??
I’m far too tired to answer complicated biology questions like ‘are you a boy or are you a girl’!
back now and still shattered! Had a fantastic time, had a few beeb people in the back of my cab, but couldn’t find any cliffs! Soz. Starting to blog about it in a farawaycity
Is the scribo social still on 4 the 21st?
Is a “CO2 ommission” when your housemate leaves the top off the lemonade and omits to tell you that it’s gone flat?
Sorry, I started playing online Scrabble so am being spelling anal-retentive. Don’t play online Scrabble by the way – your life will ebb away before your eyes!
That is quite funny Gavin, so I will let you off for being a spelling Nazi… Just this once mind!!! ; )