Where have all the Irish women in Hollywood gone?
Liam Neeson. Pierce Brosnan. Daniel Day-Lewis. Gabriel Byrne. Colin Farrell. Jonathan Rhys Meyers. The list goes on - Irish men rule in Hollywood.
And now for the women: Yesteryear: Maureen O'Hara. This year: Fionnula Flanagan.
The list pretty much ends there.
With news of Irish actress Elaine Cassidy starring on a new CBS series "Harper's Island," I was prompted to contemplate the presence of Irish women in the U.S. movie/TV scene.
And the fact is, the high-profile Irish Hollywood actress just doesn't exist.
In general, women in Hollywood have not fared well, and their influence is small (by no fault of their own, for the most part, I'd argue). Did you know that no woman has ever won an Academy Award for Best Director, no woman has ever even been nominated for Best Cinematography and out of the 1,198 nominees for Best Writer, only 96 were women?!
One has to wonder if they ended up combining genders in the running for the "Best Actor" categories (it has been proposed), what the percentage of female winners would be. (I have an inkling it'd be far less than half…)
The main focus on women in Hollywood is on their weight, their relationship status and whether they're knocked up or not.
A piece in NY Magazine entitled "The Feminist Reawakening," by Amanda Fortini, talks about women's consciousness of sexism within the media's focus on Hollywood.
"Even before Tina Fey declared, 'Bitch is the new black,' before female outrage had been anointed a trend by the New York Times, many women were clued in to the numerous gender-related issues that lay, untouched and unexamined, at some subterranean level of our culture: to the way women disproportionately bear the ills of our society, like poverty and lack of health care; to the relentlessly sexist fixation on the bodies of Hollywood starlets-on the vicissitudes of their weight, on the appearance and speedy disappearance of their pregnant bellies-and the deleterious influence this obsession has on teenage girls."
The "starlet" is the reigning female Hollywood persona. A few women have been able to evade the stereotype of the anorexic, tanorexic, baby-making, fashionista actress - I'm thinking Kate Winslet, Meryl Streep, etc. - but these women are few and far between. Unfortunately, the Lindsay Lohans of the world are the most recognizable female figures on the Hollywood scene.
So what is it about Irish actresses that doesn't allow them to cut it in the American movie scene? Are they not skinny enough, tan enough, sexual enough?
Did Maureen O'Hara work because she fit into the stereotypical "fiery redhead" Irish woman character? And since the days of Irish 'begorrah' movies are for the most part gone, are there no roles for Irish women?