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Katee Sackhoff and Jamie Bamber Lay Down Some Real Talk About Sexism In The Industry


At Dallas Comic Con last week, Battlestar Galactica‘s Katee Sackhoff and Jamie Bamber discussed expectations of women in film and television. It’s a truth bomb.

(Thanks to tipster Nicole!)

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  • Why?

    She’s sounds a bit complacent and seems to be skirting the real issues for the sake of not offending people i.e. producers,directors,agents etc. She should be flying off the handle, given all the bullshit that women have gone through in the industry, but she’s pretty, white and privileged. She’s right where she wants to be. But what about the full figured girls,lesbians,transgendered, women of color, physically handicapped? When you’ve been given a position, like she has, and you’re asked a question like this, I feel, her job is to be a beacon and her answer was so watered down and malnourished, that I nearly turned it off. Sure, it’s not her job to be anyone’s mentor, but that duty is bestowed by default. I think if you’d asked a woman like Whoopie Goldberg, Kate Winslet, Queen Latifah, Uma Thurman, Ellen Degenres , Lucy Liu or any host of women, who really had to struggle to plant a flag in the entertainment industry, you would’ve got a completely different answer than this.

    I think there are even some men who would’ve given a better answer than this. Quentin Tarantino and Andy Wachowski are the two that come to mind. This was pathetic.

    Jeffrey

    http://www.mitng.org

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, I’m not a super big fan of what she’s saying here. Really disappointed when she says it’s mostly men who go see movies. I mean haven’t we heard that endlessly? I watch the crap out of action movies. And then she says that men have unfair body standards too, which yes is true, but then says there are more men with perfect bodies in movies than there are women!! Duh, lady. There are more men with every single body type in movies. There are more men in movies period. That’s the problem. >:/

  • http://runt.org/ Adrian

    It seems like she’s bought into the BS a little… and maybe doesn’t completely understand the issue, being so close to it. I don’t know. I don’t want to blame her but it kind of explains her acceptance of her role in Riddick. As long as the discussion continues…

  • Anonymous

    That’s easy to say, but not so easy to do. Spike Lee talks very intelligently and passionately about opportunities (or the lack thereof) for blacks in the industry – and occasionally “flies off the handle” – and he gets labeled an “angry black man” and people tend not to take his criticism seriously. Imagine what industry insiders would be saying were Katee to go off like a lunatic on the lack of opportunities for women. I’m glad she gave an honest, eloquent, and thoughtful answer.

    And I doubt Katee is “right where she wants to be” when it comes to opportunities for her in Hollywood and the industry at large. Just look at her character from the last Riddick movie – unnecessary nude shower scene, and lesbian character that gets “turned out” by Riddick because…Riddick? And she even had to defend her choice of characters, reminding people that empowering female actors doesn’t mean they always have to play paragons of virtue.

    Lucy Liu Queen Latifah, Whoopie Goldberg, and I’m sure others on your list have all addressed issues of gender, race, and sexuality in Hollywood and have done so without coming off bitter and angry. What they understand is that change is a process that takes time. They could spend that time raging against the injustices of working in Hollywood as a female or they can work towards change by doing good work, advocating for more opportunities, and doing so without trying to burn the whole system down.

  • Gemma Lynn

    The backlash in these comments is interesting. Katee Sackhoff is not a writer, director, producer or casting agent. She’s an actress, so her job is at the mercy of writers, directors, producers and casting agents. She’s not in a position to change the system–she’s been one of my favorites for years, but in the eyes of Hollywood there are a thousand more like her–so her perspective is from inside it. What she says makes a lot of sense: The industry is “testosterone heavy”, so there has to be a certain amount of “welp, that’s the way things are” in your attitude if your goal is to succeed. She acknowledges that the system is broken, but she’s pragmatic, and she’s found a way to excel inside it anyway. Look at the characters she’s brought to life, look at how far they’ve blown gender stereotypes out of the water–look at the flak she initially took for gender-bending Starbuck, a decision that wasn’t even hers. Do we really want to fault her for succeeding instead of fighting? Are all women in male-dominated industries obligated to make gender bias and advocacy their focus? Stated another way: My ovaries don’t obligate me to stay barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen; do they obligate me to pick a fight?

  • Saraquill

    She doesn’t seem to mind the status quo, which I find troubling.

  • Saraquill

    What’s wrong with advocating for more and broader representation, which will allow more women to find work in this field?

  • Why?

    Wow I didn’t know about the Reddick stuff. That being said, she was clearly not the one to ask about this, seeing as how she’s not that picky about the work she does. I get what your saying about the lunatic stuff, but it’s the squeaky tire that gets the oil. There’s just too many people willing to do anything. This was an opportunity lost.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe she should decline to answer the question then, rather than give an answer that’s absurd. “The industry is “testosterone heavy,” so sexism is inevitable, oh well!” Bullshit.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think it was as much an issue of who the actor was, but rather the environment in which she was asked. I’m assuming this was a BSG panel, and that most of the questions were about the show. I don’t think she was in the mindset, nor had the panel time, to get into a long discussion about women in film and television. I’m sure Sackhoff is willing to go even more in depth, and to be more critical, than she is in this video given the right environment; she’s never come off to me as afraid to say what is on her mind. But, again, she doesn’t have to rip Hollywood to shreds to make a point about women in entertainment. And many actors from underrepresented demographics tend not to be as picky about the roles they take – and they often get attacked for it by their own communities. Sometimes an actor just gotta eat – morals or no. For example, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer addressed the criticism they got from the black community for playing maids in The Help. Their response, “don’t blame me, blame the industry for not giving me the opportunity to do something different.”

    And sometimes the squeaky tire gets thrown the hell out and replaced with a quieter one. Sackhoff could have complained about her Riddick role…and gotten replaced with Laura Vandervoort or Sienna Guillory or whomever else the producers had lined up for the spot. Roles are hard enough to find, and unless you’re an A-lister like Pitt, Clooney, Streep or the like you’re not turning down 20 scripts for every one you take. It’s a harsh reality out there, especially when you consider that thousands of new, young, fresh-faced actors are entering the biz and are all-too-willing to take whatever role a studio gives to them.

  • Anonymous

    “Lucy Liu Queen Latifah, Whoopie Goldberg, and I’m sure others on your list have all addressed issues of gender, race, and sexuality in Hollywood and have done so without coming off bitter and angry. What they understand is that change is a process that takes time. They could spend that time raging against the injustices of working in Hollywood as a female or they can work towards change by doing good work, advocating for more opportunities, and doing so without trying to burn the whole system down.”

    Definitely; it does take time. Having a valid emotional response to years and years of oppression while doing advocacy work does NOT effect the progress of the movement.

  • http://runt.org/ Adrian

    “She’s not in a position to change the system…”
    “but in the eyes of Hollywood there are a thousand more like her”

    It’s that kind of thinking that allows such systems to persist. Of course she’s in a position to affect change. And of course there’s trickiness and risk to it; certainly, the system is geared against her, but to say there’s nothing she can do is just not true.

    “Do we really want to fault her for succeeding instead of fighting?”

    I’m certainly not begrudging her for taking work and if she’s not interested in pushing the status quo, that’s her business. But she wouldn’t be picking a fight, she’d just be defending her principles; the fight started ago when the system began marginalizing people. I’ll continue unabated to watch her movies and shows and whatnot, but it’s not unfair to have criticism for how she has handles or not handles the issue that she herself acknowledges is holding her back.

  • Gemma Lynn

    Nothing. Does she have an obligation to do that?

  • Saraquill

    It seems strange that she’s speaking as though she’s in favor of a system that prevents so many women who aren’t of a certain age and body type from finding work.

  • Gemma Lynn

    Interesting. I didn’t hear her say or even suggest that she’s in favor of the preponderance of testosterone, just that that’s the reality of the system right now.

  • Gemma Lynn

    She’s certainly in a position to *fight* the system, and we’d all love her for it, but would the system actually change as a result, or would she just be out of work? Neither of us can answer that with any certainty, but the industry response to Megan Fox after she fought Michael Bay’s overt sexism is not encouraging. I’m not saying no one should fight the system–I’d be thrilled if everyone did–but I can’t fault this individual for deciding to be disruptive in the roles she chooses instead of fighting outside her work.

    It has to be ok that not every woman is a crusader. It has to.

  • Anonymous

    Then she probably shouldn’t take the question. It’s not about being a crusader. If you don’t stand up for yourself, who are you expecting to do it instead?

  • estellahorlacher

    мy coυѕιɴ ιѕ мαĸιɴɢ $51/нoυr oɴlιɴe. υɴeмployed ғor α coυple oғ yeαrѕ αɴd prevιoυѕ yeαr ѕнe ɢoт α $1З619cнecĸ wιтн oɴlιɴe joв ғor α coυple oғ dαyѕ. ѕee мore αт…­ ­ViewMore——————————————&#46qr&#46net/kAgk

    she makes a lot of sense

  • Why?

    So far all the responses to my comments are from those that are tip toeing around the issue. Why is everyone afraid of upsetting Hollywood? Plant your own flag. You think Hollywood gives a fuck about these actors? If Hollywood wanted to have Sackhoff gang raped by circus clowns, they would do it or pay someone “to” do it. I’m sick of people acting like Hollywood is this symbol of virtue. It’s a machine, it’s responsible for so many sins and good things as well, but let’s not jump to their defense just yet. They’ve built quite a world for themselves by exploiting and aren’t about to stop anytime soon. Should she fly off the handle “no” , but he response had nothing behind it, but complacency. She will do whatever it takes to make it, that’s all I’m saying and that’s kinda the message she’s putting out there.

  • Why?

    No one was suggesting “burning the system down”, but I think more actors should be prepared for questions like this cause no one knows when one will be asked. It’s called being groomed and well verse/intelligent, about the world you live in. If she was even remotely involved in any “equal rights” movement, it might’ve been something she could’ve talked about and enlightened some of the listeners. Instead she stumbled. Which to me suggested someone who has taken it all for granted. Not a single pearl was tossed our way. If it were me, I might’ve gone home to reflect. I know if I were given an opportunity like that, I would’ve felt a tad embarrassed that it was squandered, but I hold myself to a higher cause, as an actor, humanitarian and vegan. A little education goes a long way.

    When you say something like “your okay with this testosterone heavy industry” and that “life isn’t easy”, the message she’s sending is that it’s okay to be objectified cause at the end of the day if some little girl felt empowered by my character being railed by Reddick, than my job is done. Then she proceeds to make Sarah Michelle Geller and Lucy Lawless, these patron saints of the feminism movement? You gotta be kidding me. They started it all?!! Oh and that strong women panel she mentioned consisted of actors like Zoe Saldana and Eliza Dushku…honestly the only actor up there “worthy” of that strong women title was Sigourney Weaver.

    I guess when the title reads “Real Talk” I was really expecting to hear something and I didn’t.

    http://www.mitng.org

  • Why?

    No ones asking her to be a feminist. We are asking her to be a woman.

  • Anonymous

    ‘No one was suggesting “burning the system down”…’

    Greg G: [editted] They could…do so without trying to burn the whole system down.

    “but I think more actors should be prepared for questions like this cause no one knows when one will be asked.”

    Definitely agree. Though I am super wary of you quoting “equal rights” movements like they aren’t necessary. Or maybe you don’t agree with the direction those movements are heading?

  • Anonymous

    Unfortunately, it’s more complicated then “upsetting the system”. The way things are now, minority voices with be drowned out. So yes, even someone like Sackhoff will be labled as (insert endless misogynistic names/phrases/slurs here) and not taken seriously. Not to mention the negative attention she will get for being so forward; talk to any blogger who is publicly a woman and they can show you the stalking, the harassment, the rape threats, etc. You have an entire system working against you from speaking the truth; that’s how oppression works. This is NOT to say it’s hopeless, just that every experience is different.

  • Anonymous

    *raises hand* I’m asking her to be a feminist.

  • Why?

    Though I am super wary of you quoting “equal rights” movements like they
    aren’t necessary. Or maybe you don’t agree with the direction those
    movements are heading?

    Woah..what?

  • Why?

    Though I am super wary of you quoting “equal rights” movements like they
    aren’t necessary. Or maybe you don’t agree with the direction those
    movements are heading?

    Woah..what?

  • Anonymous

    I’m asking you what you meant by putting equal rights in quotations.

  • Why?

    Just emphasizing. My purpose was to expound upon her lack of social awareness, evident by the lack luster answer she gave to a topic hundreds of years in the making/struggle.

  • Anonymous

    “Why is everyone afraid of upsetting Hollywood? Plant your own flag.”

    This mentality is a large part of the problem with those criticizing Sackhoff for not going off on Hollywood. It’s easy for someone not in her position to tell her what she should and shouldn’t be doing. But we have to remember that it’s not our reputation nor our careers on the line. To us the issue is simple. For her, she’s got her livelihood and her reputation, and a great deal of friendships and working relationships at stake.

    The most I’d demand of an artist is to be true to their beliefs – however that manifests itself. I’m not going to tell a person to put MY moral outrage above THEIR ability to pay the rent; I can’t stand Orson Scott Card or his beliefs, but I’m not going to tell Harrison Ford, Gavin Hood, or Asa Butterfield to turn down the opportunity for a good role and a good paycheck and risk being labeled “trouble”; if they can reconcile their choices with his beliefs then they are free to do as they please; they shouldn’t live their lives to my standards and expectations. And I am free to make my consumer decisions based on what they do – I won’t watch the movie ever, and if that contributes to hurting Ford’s box office appeal then so be it. I’ll never watch another Roman Polanski film because I consider him a criminal who fled justice, but I’ll continue to support Harrison Ford because Card’s hatred isn’t his cross to bear.

    And it is not my place to tell someone how to be a “good” feminist or advocate for an ideal. How many of our mothers toiled at jobs where they were victims of harassment, unfair pay, and a general lack of respect just so they could put food on the table, save up some money, and make sure that we didn’t have it as hard as their generation did? Should they all have gone off on their bosses, walked out, and threw up their hands at the injustice of it all? Were they wrong for helping those companies turn a profit? Did they “do enough?” Were they good enough feminists?

    It’s exactly because Hollywood IS a “machine” – as you put it – that it isn’t so easy for actors to lash out at injustices. If you rock the boat, there are literally thousands of people waiting to replace you. When the prospects of your career are on the line, let’s see how willing you are to speak truth to power in the most confrontational way possible.

    How do you think African-Americans, Women, Muslims, Gay men and women, and other citizens who have had to work and live under oftentimes hostile conditions have felt and still feel in an America where you can get asked for your “papers” in Arizona if you’re a little too brown, or get frisked by the cops in NY for being black or Latino, or not be allowed to get married in a whole host of states, or get asked for proof of your faith if you’re wearing a head wrap to take your school ID picture? Do you honestly think it is the obligation of every oppressed person to lash out at their oppressors no matter the consequence? Mortgage, groceries, clothing, health care be damned, if they’re not raking Hollywood or the Government or the Justice System over the coals then they’re the bad guy? Just because they want to be able to eat, put a roof over their heads, and maybe get to do the job that they’ve dreamed about their whole lives?

    I shouldn’t even have to, but I’m going to bring up MLK Jr. here. He never advocated that all minorities chew their bosses out, storm their political representatives’ offices, and go off on corrupt police. He understood that meaningful change doesn’t happen like that. You risk becoming the ugly stereotype that the “oppressor” claims you are and uses to keep you “in your place.” Sure, maybe it FEELS better to go all Malcolm X militant, but that rarely wins any hearts or minds.

    You want a couple of examples in fiction: a reference I made earlier, The Help, is all about a group of women who choose to fight against injustice, not by raging against it but by showing quiet strength and dignity and by telling their stories in an honest, intelligent, and insightful manner – appealing to hearts and minds not pushing them away; another example is the character Daisy Fitzroy in Bioshock: Infinite, whose reliance on violence made her less sympathetic and almost as villainous as those who oppressed her and her kin. Writers have tackled this very dilemma time and again because the answer isn’t as cut and dried as you would believe.

    Sure, Sackhoff could have launched into some unhinged diatribe for an hour and the result would have been dozens of sites reporting on how this actor just lost her marbles at a geek convention. And dozens of doors would have immediately closed for her in Hollywood…because of a BSG panel. And believe me, it’s harder to enact change from the outside looking in, which is where you would have had her. She kept a calm demeanor, spoke honestly and intelligently, and (while I don’t agree with all of her assertions) made some important points about why breaking out the torches and pitchforks isn’t the best way to initiate change in Hollywood. Just because she’s more MLK and less Malcolm X doesn’t mean she’s no feminist or that she isn’t an advocate of more opportunities for women in Hollywood, or that she’s perfectly fine with the system as is. Her quotes made it perfectly clear to me that she isn’t satisfied with the way things are. I’m willing to bet she’s just as passionate about the issue as you.

    There’s seriously something wrong when we lob more moral outrage at the victims of Hollywood injustice than the perpetrators themselves. Katee Sackhoff isn’t a sociologist, civil/women’s rights lawyer, community organizer or anything of the like. To expect her to always have some dazzling hour-long response ready to go in the case she gets asked about women’s issues at a Con is unfair and misguided. How quickly we condemn those that don’t throw themselves on the pyre to placate our own outrage.

  • Why?

    Greg my man, you make some good points, but money ain’t everything. Dignity and respect last longer and when you’ve established yourself as someone who”will do it” in Hollywood, all that shits out the window. So what, you get blacklisted, there are hundreds of artist who’ve been blacklisted and came back and why would you want to be apart of a system like that? Again, I just can’t wrap my mind around your unwillingness to see this. Harrison, Viola, Asa, Kingsley aren’t hurting for money. They could’ve took a stand. No way will I make excuses for them. Will I see them film, probably..but it’s because I loved the book. If I walked around all my life worried about who I would offend, I’d be nothing. Do I love serving tables? No, but does everyone I work with respect me? Yes. At least I think they do. She’s going to be old one day and when she looks back at her body of work, I just hope she has no regrets.

    Try to understand, she said nothing that had any merit. Nothing and you’re giving her an out and as for your MLK and Malcolm reference, I’m a half black/half asian man married to a white woman living in Arizona via. New York. I have seen the ugly face of inequality and I have learned that you never turn away, you fight it. Nothing is worth working in a place that you are not happy. She seems happy, hence the reason for the half ass response, but try asking some whose been looked over in Hollywood and you will get a completely different response. At least act like it’s happening and that your not cool with it. If your the type that doesn’t like to ripple the waters that’s one thing, but how will people remember you, as a fighter? (you probably do) but all I see is the face of oppression. She’s excepted her fate and so have I.

  • Anonymous

    “Dignity and respect…”

    So why should her dignity and respect hinge on her calling out Hollywood at every opportunity? She’s a person, not an ideal, and she has the right to take a more moderate approach. We shouldn’t make her into something she’s not. I see parallels with President Obama: when he took office many black folks – including some in my own family – thought he was going to/should spend all his time dealing with race issues, and when he didn’t they considered him a traitor/sell-out/disappointment. You can’t tell me that being calm, intelligent, thoughtful, and professional is any less powerful than ranting about racial injustice every week.

    “there are hundreds of artist who’ve been blacklisted and came back”

    As I’m sure there are hundreds or thousands who have been blacklisted and never came back, or never achieved anything close to what they had before they got on the wrong side of those at the top. And, again, it’s a whole lot more difficult to enact change when you’re on the outside. Actresses like Jolie, Streep, Roberts, Berry, etc are more capable of enacting change now than they were in their early acting careers because they put their heads down, did good work in the face of many obstacles, and made themselves valuable commodities in the business. They worked within the system that existed at the time and through hard work gave themselves the tools to be able to turn down roles/films, advocate for better representation, green-light films, and hire women. That’s how it’s done. Would Kathryn Bigelow have gotten Hurt Locker and won an Academy Award had she spent most of her time ranting at the industry she worked within? And do you think that she couldn’t speak on gender issues in Hollywood while still working within that biased system?

    “Try to understand, she said nothing that had any merit”

    I disagree with this. While I don’t buy everything she said (particularly the parts about men making up a majority of movie audiences, or that Hollywood is testosterone-fueled (it’s money-fueled)), what she did was to lay out in plain, honest terms what the environment is in which female filmmakers have to work – and it ain’t pretty. She was being realistic, but not complacent or defeatist. What we in fandom often fail to realize is that things aren’t as black and white as we’d like them to be. An actress can’t just come out and tear Hollywood a new one without the risk of retaliation, no more so than a female politician (say, Wendy Davis) can rail against misogyny in politics without becoming a target. Smart actors know how to work within the system to create change, and they know it’s not by burning all your bridges or railing against the same people who put millions of dollars into your bank account.

    And, no, it’s not all about money. But for actors, just as it is for us, it’s about being able to put a roof over your head and food in your belly. We have to remember that this isn’t some fantasy land, it’s a business and roles are jobs. And they aren’t guaranteed. You’re never guaranteed another role after your last one ends. That’s a scary reality to work within – and most of us don’t realize the fragility of a career in entertainment.

    “I have learned that you never turn away, you fight it.”

    I agree with you here. You never turn away from justice. What I disagree with is your assertion that Sackhoff wasn’t “fighting” the good fight just because she wasn’t tearing down Hollywood. What she did is just as important as what Natalie Portman did with her recent comments; Portman may be disappointed with the lack of female roles in Marvel movies, but that didn’t stop her from doing two Thor movies because she realizes that she can be a positive force for females that way. The fight isn’t always about pointing fingers at the enemy, sometimes it’s about educating people about the landscape and the obstacles. We’d like to believe that it would be easy for any actor or actress to speak freely, but Katee calmly and rationally (for the most part) explained why that isn’t the case. I respect her immensely for that.

    The MLK reference was integral to this issue because he was seen by many as being soft and an appeaser. Malcolm was seen by many as a fighter. Malcolm burned bridges and paid dearly for it. MLK successfully lobbied for the Civil Rights Act. Sensibility won out over extremism. The last thing Sackhoff is afraid of is “rippling the water.” What she’s afraid of is not even having access to the water to begin with. Can’t ripple the water if you aren’t even at the pool.

  • Gemma Lynn

    The absurdity of not taking a question on a topic like this from a fan at a convention aside, she’s not asking anyone to stand up for her. The system is bad, she doesn’t like it, and she’s been successful inside it anyway. She doesn’t need help; she’s satisfied with what she’s been able to achieve–as she notes, thanks in large part to her own genetic makeup and the women who did crusade before her.

  • Anonymous

    Katie Sackhoff is right that a lot of the decisions made in the entertainment industry are made by men, and that entertainment is often focused at a male audience. She’s right in saying “that’s the reality”.

    But if that’s the status quo, that status quo isn’t going to change unless there are people willing to push (even a little) to change it. I’m glad the question was asked – even talking about it is better than sweeping it under the table. Also good for Jamie Bamber for mentioning the bias against aging actresses.