By Serene Silva
When films have the ability to make you feel empowered or to make you want to fight for a change, that’s what makes a great film. In the documentary This Changes Everything directed by Tom Donahue, they do exactly that. The film focuses on the sexism that takes place in Hollywood; whether it be with the actresses, the film directors, or even the camera operators. There’s a reason this film has won various awards such as the Cinema Verite Award and why powerhouse actress’ such as Sandra Oh and Ellen Pompeo chose to be interviewed for this documentary. Even with the film’s awards and incredible cast members, I still felt that there was something missing, something important. Although the film has a strong argument that sexism is very much alive in the Hollywood film industry, their lack of taking an intersectional approach to the problems explored in the film weakened the overall effectiveness of the film.
The film takes you through an emotional roller-coaster on what it is like to be a woman in Hollywood. Women who you would think should have millions of movies produced because their first film production did outstanding are interviewed and admit that after a major box office hit, they struggle to find their next film. Actresses have to convince their male counterparts that how they are portraying being a woman or becoming a woman is accurate. This documentary provides incredibly mind blowing facts and statistics regarding the amount of women that are featured on screen. Actresses have to convince producers of kids television shows that yes they are all mainly male characters and that we are teaching our children that this is a male dominated world. All of these key points in the film not only appeal to the viewer’s emotions but also their logical side.
To me, this documentary had the potential to be completely and totally revolutionary. The film had the women who were subject to or witnessed the sexual oppression in Hollywood on a daily basis for their entire careers. But, the missing element that would’ve improved the films effectiveness were women of color, women with disabilities, and transgender women. These individuals all fall into the gender category of discrimination; but they also fall into the race category, the disability category, and the sexual orientation category. This is what intersectionality is all about, people who fall into more than one area or lane of discrimination are essentially stuck at a cross roads where a new double standard oppression is placed on them.
Imagine being a Latina female watching a documentary that highlights how there wasn’t a single Disney princess who was of Hispanic or Latina descent until 2016 and she didn’t even get her own movie, just a television show. The discrimination between those two factors makes for a more appealing argument and it effects a lot of viewers more than producers realize. Actresses such as Lauren Potter who starred in Glee would’ve been an excellent person to interview on how a female actress with a disability is affected in Hollywood.
Overall, the film does an excellent job at displaying facts to prove their argument. They appeal to the viewers emotions and provide extensive examples of how sexism in Hollywood is still alive and thriving. The documentary even offers examples on how we can counteract the sexism in Hollywood. Intersectionality would have given the film that extra push of greatness. To be a woman who is discriminated against in more than one aspect it truly reaches out to their emotions and causes an uproar. To hear statistics about how often women with disabilities or transgender women were featured in films would astonish most viewers and create a stronger impact. Discrimination isn’t always a one way street and I think it would be evolutionary if a film displayed that.