The incredibly funny, insightful, and steampunk-loathing tandem of Jamie Loftus and Caitlin Durante formed The Bechdel Cast in November of 2016. The show’s premise is to explore the disparity of roles played by women in cinema. Using Alison Bechdel’s system of checks and balances — two female characters must speak to each other about something other than a man — the show investigates the glaring inequality in Hollywood. We were lucky enough to ask Jamie, a self-declared shrug emoji with a masters in journalism, a few questions about the dearth of voices in cinema. Here are the answers from the comedian and writer.
Rob Patrick: Will the podcast ever cover Sex Ed, Haley Joel Osment’s famous coming-of-age film? Is there any chance that it passes the Bechdel test?
Jamie Loftus: As a proud owner of Haley Joel Osment’s director’s chair from A.I. (don’t ask), I trust in the HJO-related powers that be that caitlin and I will get to Sex Ed one way or another. It might be a while, though, I’m still in the doghouse for making her do Gigli and I’ve had difficulty arguing my case for my other three favorite bad movies, Jobs, I Frankenstein and The Master of Disguise. This is my Everest.
Also, if Sex Ed passes the Bechdel test, it truly is a cinematic masterpiece.
Under the current administration, both artistic expression and public programs have been routinely dismissed. How do you think film will change under the umbrella of this current presidency?
Ideally, I’d hope that the oppositional force presented by the Trump administration would be motivating to artists, and they tend to find a way to get the job done regardless of who’s telling them to fuck off. It’s possible that mainstream film will end up softening toward the administration depending on where the money is, but I hope that newer voices can harness the power of ~*~the magical internet~*~ to accomplish what they need to.
In your “Heathers” episode, there was a discussion regarding the screenwriter being male. With all of the reboots coming out of the studio system, do you think “Heathers” would benefit from being remade with both a woman writer and director?
It’s possible! I do think that for the mental health of the world at large we should stop rebooting everything, though, there are plenty of stories in the here and now that are more relevant.
Masculinity, blunt pride, and machismo drove a lot of films in the ’80s and ’90s, and the residue of that is still appearing, maybe to a lesser degree, in our present era. Do you think the bro-forward movies will ever entirely go away?
As long as Seth Rogen is alive, we are not safe.
To me, film criticism has suffered because the reviews are primarily being written by older white dudes. We’re often times seeing one perspective, constantly, over the course of decades. Why do you think that is?
The obvious answer is because older white dudes have run the world for some time now, but the reason it continues, from my personal experience, is all connected to who gets the opportunity to be mentored in positions like that. One of my close friends is a young (white, male) critic whose work is incredible, and his success is completely deserved, but part of what pushed it, and I think any successful career, forward, was the support and opportunity provided by those older than him in the same industry.
I think that established people in any industry tend to gravitate towards mentees who remind them of a younger version of themselves, and invest time in lifting them up as an exercise in helping another and feeling like they’re giving themselves an opportunity at the same age. Nothing is inherently wrong with this, and it’s beautiful in its way, but if a white male dominated industry is mentoring younger white male versions of themselves, when is there access for anyone else? While there’s plenty of powers that be are intentionally excluding non-SWMs, I think that the concept that we’re drawn to mentor people who remind us of ourselves can reinforce those prejudices.
It’s impossible for any minority to break into an industry like that without people seeing us as having potential or that same draw? Probably as with anything, the door will need to be kicked open, or an alternative to the norm developed by those who aren’t given access to it.
Also, white dudes love criticizing things they’re not creatively capable of producing themselves. It’s their thing.
If you were to cast a movie that Caitlin wrote, who would you have star in the film? What would it be about?
WHOA THIS QUESTION RULES. I think to make her mad I’d cast Haley Joel Osment in all the roles, like a Big Momma’s House kind of thing but with HJO. It’d be a remake of Big Momma’s House.
“The chick who did the Hurt Locker is pretty good” and “Point break was directed by a women I think” were two comments, made by men, that I read today on an otherwise interesting thread about female directors. Why do guys have such a difficult time understanding basic interactions and thoughts? Please advise.
A lot of men are terrified of women challenging them, and being given equal opportunity in film would mean that male creatives would have to, you know, step their game up in order to compete. In my limited experience, most would rather lean into oppressing and making others feel useless than try to get better. If the world is literally built to make things easier for you, why would you want to give that up? (Because it’s fucking with your mothers, sisters and wives? Lol.) I’m not saying all men are evil, I’m saying that if you’re taught that you’re the shit and your cum is gold, putting yourself in anyone else’s shoes probably seems pointless.
I am a pretty firm believer that women need to be at least two times better as any of their peers, and demonstrate an intelligence and ability far more honed to achieve the same results. The different standards are ridiculous and unfair, but it means that male creatives should be worried about getting complacent – the women who are coming for them are really fucking good.
You’re wonderful at stand-up comedy for many reasons, but the dog food interlude changes lives. How did you first think of that?
Oh!! I started doing that when I was still in college in Boston, and was really inspired by my good friend Steve Delfino, a local comic who had developed these incredible, experimental routines as “The Rekcus” that would often involve food in moving the bit forward. There was one where he talked about eating a married man’s dirty asshole while eating a chocolate frosted donut, there was another where he’d bring audence members onstage and sensually cut lunch meats and butter in front of them. If you’re ever in that area, please see him perform. I hadn’t seen anything like that at the time and wanted to impress Steve, haha, so that’s basically why I developed the dog food bit and I’ve been doing it on and off for I think three years now.
In almost 100 years of the Academy Awards recognizing the arts, Kathryn Bigelow is the only woman to win the Oscar for Best Director. What the hell is going on here?
Limited access and opportunities for female directors with potential for greatness, refusal of a male-driven institution to acknowledge anything outside of their comfort zone, an overwhelmingly older white male Academy voting system, all the regular bullshit. There’s great work being produced by women all over the place, but getting it off the ground and seen and loved to the same degree that we grant to male directors without a second thought is so much harder.
Finally, when will you cover the worst Steampunk film of all-time, the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock movie?