Emma Stone in 'Kinds of Kindness'
(Searchlight Pictures)

At Cannes, Women Are Still Being Asked To Solve Hollywood’s Sexism Problem

Women put up with a lot of nonsense in Hollywood, and it’s women who often have to answer for said nonsense. What happened to Emma Stone during the press conference following the Cannes premiere of her latest film is just the latest example.

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The Cannes film festival is pretty interesting this year. France is in the midst of their own #MeToo movement, all while welcoming celebs like Shia LaBeouf, who returned to acting for Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis before heading to court for allegedly abusing FKA Twigs.

Meanwhile, Emma Stone, who is at Cannes for her latest film with Yorgos Lanthimos, Kinds of Kindness, was treated to a bizarre line of questioning. Stone and Lanthimos have worked together on The Favourite and Poor Things, which earned Stone an Oscar for Best Actress. Following the premiere of their third collaboration, Stone was asked if she is Lanthimos’ muse. “He’s my muse,” she replied.

Stone went on to talk about their working relationship, saying “I feel like I can do anything with him because we’ve worked together so many times. I trust him beyond the trust I’ve had with any director, and I’ve been lucky to work with great directors.” And then it got weird.

Instead of asking Lanthimos about the feminist lens in his films and incorporating that into his work with Stone, the press lobbed the question at Stone. When asked how their collaborations contribute to feminism and activism, Stone replied by asking, “How do you think I contribute to feminism?” Stone said she doesn’t choose her roles based on the message, but instead based on whether “she finds the worlds and characters interesting.”

She ended the answer by stating, “I’m a feminist, and I like working with Yorgos Lanthimos. I guess that’s activism.”

Again, why is this on women?

Cate Blanchett is also at Cannes, where she’s promoting the new accelerator program Proof of Concept, which funds short film projects directed by women, trans, and nonbinary filmmakers. During the Kering Women in Motion Talks, Blanchett talked about how she wants more opportunities for women and LGBTQ+ filmmakers, and made an important point: Why aren’t men asked the same questions?

“There seems to be in the media, in particular, a sense of ‘Haven’t we discussed that?’” Blanchett said. “And it’s like, I feel the same way. Like the amount of times that women are in press conferences, say at a festival like this, and they get asked about women’s representation in films. And there are two men sitting on this panel, I would love for you to ask them that question.”

For the most part, men are still making most of the decisions in Hollywood. Putting the solution to these problems on the shoulders of women is just setting progress up for failure. Women do not currently control the majority of media, men do. So why not ask those men? Why is this a women’s issue to solve?

Asking Stone about “feminism” at the Kinds of Kindness press conference comes across like someone was trying to criticize her for working with Lanthimos instead of with a female director. Yes, I do believe that bigger stars should be asking to work with female directors more often than not because they do, at times, have that power.

But again, it should not fall solely on the shoulders of women to be doing that work.


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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.