Podcast#10 How to Get Ahead in Hollywood: Women’s Exploitation in the US Film Indusry


Inspired by the upcoming Women in Hollywood symposium and by broader current events in the US film industry, in this podcast I talk with American scholar and invited speaker at the symposium, Kerry McElroy. Kerry is an interdisciplinary scholar currently based at Concordia University in Montreal, who researches and writes on women’s exploitation in Hollywood. She has written on the casting couch, on ethnicity in Hollywood and much more.

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Women In Hollywood Symposium: Useful resources

This blog post contains a number of resources you may find of use prior to and during the symposium discussions surrounding the current and historic poor treatment of women in the American film industry. Simply click on the image to be taken to the resource.

Currently these resources focus heavily on the recent context, but this is not intentional.

These resources collected here are in no way exhaustive. I’d like this to grow and I would very much welcome further suggestions as to what to add here.



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Registering to attend the Women In Hollywood Symposium

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The Women In Hollywood symposium on May 28th is FREE to attend but booking your place in advance is essential, even if you are presenting at the event.

To do this simply visit our Eventbrite page here and fill in the short form.

Once you have completed this short form, you will receive a confirmation message and an email confirming your booking and giving you further information about the event.

If you have any queries please feel free to email ellen.wright@dmu.ac.uk

CATH MA Travel Bursary competition open to Women in Hollywood attendees.

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To ensure that participants across a range of career stages and wage brackets are part of the conversation at the Women in Hollywood symposium, there is no registration fee to attend, but we are aware that there are other costs involved in attending.
To help cover the cost of attending, the Cinema and Television History research centre at DMU will be offering a travel bursary to a limited number of postgraduate students whose research interests link with the symposium and who want to attend this event.
The CATH MA Travel Bursary is a competitive fund for exceptional students completing or who have recently completed MAs but who are not registered for a PhD.
You don’t even have to be presenting at Women in Hollywood to be eligible to apply.
Email me ellen.wright@dmu.ac.uk for a form or if you have any further questions.

A timely symposium – Women in Hollywood


Me attempting to channel Rita Hayworth. Image courtesy of Beki Doig

I am very pleased to announce that on Monday May 28th I will be running my first ever symposium at DeMontfort University.

It seems odd to me that having organised and been part of so many public events over the years, I haven’t yet organised a conference or symposium.

The idea for this event came a couple of months ago when myself, Alissa Clarke and Laraine Porter were asked by PhD candidate Becky Jones to be part of a panel discussion around the treatment of older women in Hollywood following a screening of Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool – a film about the final years of Hollywood vamp Gloria Grahame at the Phoenix cinema in Leicester.

We had a lot to say but understandably, only a small time in which to say it. We all remarked on this and also on how unusual it was to be part of an all female panel. As we gathered in the cafe bar afterwards, to continue the discussion, we drifted onto other issues women in Hollywood have had and still do encounter when trying to get on.  The #MeToo movement and the Weinstein allegations were only the tip of the iceberg. There were so many historical precedents.

The seed was sewn. We needed a day long event at least to discuss these issues. Vicky Ball also came on board and Women in Hollywood was born.

In case you are interested in attending and participating, here is our call for papers:

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Bad and Beautiful: Reflections on Gloria Grahame and the treatment of women in Hollywood.

815CE927-16D7-43EA-93C2-A58261FAF7A8A couple of weeks ago I was part of an all-female panel discussion of the treatment of older women in Hollywood. The discussion followed a screening of the recent Paul McGuigan biopic Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool which charts the relationship between ageing Hollywood star Gloria Grahame and younger British actor Peter Turner.

I enjoyed the film very much and was excited to be asked by marketing assistant and my PhD supervisee, Becky Jones, to be part of the discussion event at the wonderful Phoenix cinema in Leicester.

The film itself was very good, beautifully shot and both Benning and Bell’s performances were excellent. It also raised a number of issues around the idea of the ageing female star and the broader treatment of women in Hollywood which really seemed to chime with the recent Weinstein allegations and the public debate around the #MeToo campaign.

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Charlize Theron: Fighting like a Girl

ABI was recently interviewed by PhD candidate Becky Jones* for Phoenix Talks – her podcast in association with the Leicester’s independent cinema, the Phoenix.

Becky invited me to talk about the noir spy thriller Atomic Blonde which recently ran at the cinema. The film, based on the 2012 graphic novel The Coldest City and set on the eve of the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, is a visceral experience and features a blistering performance by Charlize Theron as MI6 agent protagonist Lorraine Broughton.

The film is notable for its director, David Leitch, who is a renowned stunt man but what I really  wanted to talk about was what our expectations around how action-packed this film would be were regarding Theron’s performance. I also wanted to talk about the discourse around Theron in relation to the film, her star persona and reputation as a skilled actress who really throws herself into her roles, about her as an ‘aging’ star, about Lorraine as an empowered character and Theron as a producer and the history of  ‘action women’ roles in Hollywood.

Here is a link to the podcast:

*Becky Jones’ PhD is on cyborgs and gender in film. Continue reading

Here’s Looking At You Podcast #4 Wondering about Wonder Woman


WW no.25, December 2008

A film depiction of  Wonder Woman acting as a role model for young girls.

Welcome to the fourth Here’s Looking at You podcast.  In this podcast I talk about Wonder Woman with Dr Rayna Denison, senior lecturer in Film at University of East Anglia and editor of the Eisner award-nominated Super Heroes on World Screens  and Melanie Adams, pin-up artist at Madams Pin-Ups and Wonder Woman expert.

We discuss Wonder Woman’s various iterations over the years, her feminist roots, the politics of her costuming, how she’s marketed in different national contexts and what we liked and disliked about the recently released origin story, directed by Patty Jenkins.


Now the world is ready for you… ?

First we discussed Wonder Woman as a recuring, and changing, cultural figure and how she reflects and reacts to the times.   While there are many  Continue reading

Watch the Birdie: Celebrity, Group Selfies and Twitter

My article ‘Watch the Birdie: The Star Economy, Social Media and the Celebrity Group Selfie’ is published this month in the Meccsa online journal Networking Knowledge, who have produced a special edition on Identity, Aesthetics and Power in Digital Self-representation entitled Be Your Selfie.

My essay explores some of the broader implications of celebrity group selfies, through the example of Ellen DeGeneres’ star-studded group shot, taken during the 2014 Academy Awards ceremony, Joan Collins’ 2014 Prince’s Trust Award selfie, just days after, and Collins’ subsequent ‘view from the other side’ tweet; exploring notions of authenticity, performance, intimacy, self-promotion, public visibility, identification, imitation, vicarious consumption and audience participation.

Engaging with existing work upon celebrity tweeters, Twitter and other online fandom, photographic theory, star studies and, in particular, Bourdieu’s theories surrounding cultural capital, taste formation, and cultural distinctions, this work not only explores some of the reasons behind the frequently negative judgements of celebrity group selfies, but also seeks to identify some of the very real social functions and more personal gratifications, both for celebrity and fan, that the celebrity group selfie, as a communication and a self-promotional tool, may actually satisfy.

More specifically, it is this paper’s contention that selfies offer an ostensibly unmediated, accessible and virtually instantaneous means of articulating and disseminating a coherent, identifiable, aspirational (yet bizarrely, also, seemingly ‘ordinary’) and eminently marketable star image, via a popular and up-to-date medium. With celebrity group selfies this is also the case, but here the photographer subject presents an image of themselves to the world, in relation to a specific group of peers (who themselves also function as signifiers and commodities); perpetuating the notion of a pantheon of star ‘gods’ and the myth of a coherent celebrity community; reinforcing the divide between ‘famouses’ and ‘normals’ and participants and observers; prompting an exponential rise in fan/public interest as more stars enter the equation and allowing the celebrity participants within the image to either borrow some of the greater ‘worth’, ‘status’ or cultural capital of other, more eminent, celebrity subjects also pictured or alternatively, lend their superior cultural capital to less successful celebrities within the image.

As such, in this this essay I seek to move beyond a hasty dismissal of such images, their subjects, and their audiences and instead, hypothesise a coherent set of reasons why the most-photographed individuals on the planet (not just film stars, but heads of state and religious leaders) might feasibly choose to create, appear in and/or disseminate such images (or, indeed, decline to participate as did Prince Charles in Joan Collins’ group shot) and why the public may find these images of such interest.

Watch the Birdie: The Cultural Politics of Twitter and the Celebrity Group Selfie

Networking Knowledge

Volume 8 Issue 6

(December 2015)

Special Edition – Be Your Selfie: Identity, Aesthetics and Power in Digital Self-representation

Guest editors Laura Busetta and Valerio Coladonato