Today I have rage. Big, futile, amorphous anger. I feel like this -
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!... only more so and with sound effects.
I love the world, it's a thrilling exciting place with many amazing people and places worth knowing. But sometimes the sheer assholery of the place makes me want to go about hitting it things with sticks.* Or grab the world by the face and squish its cheeks, yelling "You forgot the first rule of living: Don't be a dick."
*Props to Google's doodle for today, its 15th birthday, for having a pinata mini game so I can whack stuff with a virtual stick and not get into trouble
First there were the news stories about Asda, Tesco, Amazon etc selling 'mental patient' Hallowe'en costumes. Way to reinforce old and vile stereotypes that people with mental health problems are dangerous psychotic nutters, guys. Thanks.. Those of us stuck in the daily struggle with depression and other debilitating mental health problems were hoping attitudes had changed enough that such images just wouldn't cut it any more. Apparently not.
I didn't even get mad about that one. I just felt resigned.
Then there were a few demented climate change deniers wheeled out to disagree with the IPCC report that paints a grim and scary future for us. Seriously, dudes. The scientific community is pretty much united. It's happening, we caused it, let's (wo)man up and start working together to fix it.
But something that really got under my skin was such a silly, commonplace thing that I can't believe how mad I got. And I got really, really mad.
Last night I watched the last episode of Music that Made the Movies on BBC4. I watch a LOT of film. I love films. But I kept thinking "I've not seen that one yet" about most of the movies Neil Brand chose to discuss. And I'd not seen them for the same reason - they felt rather blokey to me and didn't appeal at all. So I started thinking about it; where were the women in this series? Where were non-white musicians? There was a photo of woman - Bebe Barron - who made electronic music for Forbidden Planet as part of a partnership, but that was it. The interviewees were all men. As were the directors of the films chosen.
Then I thought about the previous episode. We had clips of Shirley Bassey and Adele singing Bond songs illustrating the use of popular songs in films. There was a short piece with the woman who secures song rights for Quentin Tarrantino, but in a "we couldn't get Quentin so he's the woman who gets the music Quentin picks." The other interviewees were Martin Scorsese, Lalo Schifrin, Richard Sherman, David Arnold, and discussion of Ennio Morricone and John Barry. Each in possession of a Y chromosome.
And the first episode - the golden age of Hollywood. Yep. Lots more white blokes. Talented, without a doubt, but still... no women? anywhere?
I'm not going to get in to a fruitless "why didn't he feature X or Y" rant. However, in case you think there are no women who made music that would fit in this series of films, I offer you the pioneering Delia Derbyshire for his Electronic episode (he'd used examples from TV in a previous episode so it's not like that was the problem) and (Oscar winning) Anne Dudley for the pop music episode. (For non-white composers, this article from 2007 has plenty to say.)
The fact that there are SO few women in film composing is a reason to feature those that we have. They are the role models, the trail blazers.
Why did I get so damned mad? It's just a TV show. Not one that is going to be seen by many, realistically, because it's on the lovely and under-appreciated BBC4. And lighten up, woman, jeez.
I got so damned mad because this is what TV is like. And film. And comedy shows. And news panels. And video games. Not only do we accept this, we don't even notice. One woman out of 5 performers is pretty common on shows like QI, but all-male-participants episodes are also a common sight. All-female comedy or news panels are as common as hens' teeth. An astonishing number films fail the Bechdel test, for heaven's sake, and that was set up as a joke about how few women are in films.
Don't get me wrong, I LIKE blokes. My dad and brother are blokes. My partner is, and 2 of my children will grow up to be. But for only 48% of the population, men do hog most of the room, don't you think?
So, I have rage.
Rage that plenty of people in product development and selection of national brands think it's fine for mental health to be equated with murderous psychopath.
Rage that those with vested interests still rail against then compelling evidence that our climate is being damaged by our actions.
And rage that our culture says women don't seem to exist at all.