‘Spexism’ In Hollywood

Brooke Erin Duffy’s exploration of the role of gender in the digital age, or perhaps more fittingly, in the age of media convergence, admittedly caught me off guard. I had not previously put much thought into magazines, and more specifically, women’s magazines. In my experience (especially in recent years) it is often difficult to find someone who still swears by print magazines, opposed to online sites; Duffy, however, takes this (hard to come by) recreational reading to a whole new level in that she considers women’s magazines in an academic and scholarly light. In her book entitled, Remake, Remodel: Women’s Magazines in the Digital Age, Duffy considers how magazines are transforming and functioning in the age of media convergence; she makes an interesting point that I believe carries over into the film industry:

As content spills off the printed page and across the internet, iPad/tablet, mobile, television, and retail industries, magazines are seemingly evolving from objects into brands (Duffy, 5).

Her statement is completely valid, however, I am more concerned with content producers rather than the content itself. Professor Patrick Johnson recently reminded some of us how inundated the film industry is (especially in regards to documentaries); the word he used was “noisy”. Perhaps the primary method of cutting through this noise is by branding oneself, whether as a filmmaker, photographer, writer, fashionista bloggers, etc. Self-branding is a tough topic for me; it seems there is no way around coming off as conceited and/or promoting a self-promotional attitude. At the same time, branding has emerged as an appropriate route for up-and-comers to take in media industries. While the content (or objects) behind the brand is vital to its success, Duffy seems to acknowledge that the digitization of magazines signifies the deterioration of print itself. She writes:

…Convergence implies the decline—or at least fragility—of traditional structures of information and communication” (Duffy, 3).

Painted in this light, convergence becomes a villain of sorts, threatening the integrity of the structure of media itself. However, I think one could argue that, “…the blurring of boundaries between media producers and consumers” (as Huffy notes is central to the definition of convergence), is a sign of an active, albeit changing, media landscape (2). Clearly the age of media convergence has not been equal or just, especially in regards to the role gender plays. In a 2013 article entitled, ‘Spexism’: Sales of Female-Penned Spec Scripts Hit New Low, Lucas Shaw of The Wrap makes note of the apparent one-sidedness of the film industry. For the record, a spec is literally a speculative script; one that is written by a screenwriter in hopes of a producer or studio buying the rights to it. Take a look at this info-graphic courtesy of Scott Myers at Go Into The Story:



For whatever reason, female-written specs have taken a serious hit in recent years. Meanwhile, 50% of NY Times bestsellers are females. I do not believe there is one singular or definite answer to why this lack of gender equality exists, but I am curious to see what others have to say in regards to this issue, and what this might mean for the future of not only female magazines but female produced work in the age of convergence.

Featured image found here.


























Time Warner chairman Jeffrey Bewkes, “…Bewkes suggested that the new form of the magazine is formless.” (4)



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