These Scripts' Female Character Intros All Have One Thing In Common

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Katherine Heigl in The Ugly Truth: Beautiful, but also beautiful.

It's hardly breaking news that female writers and directors are sorely underrepresented in Hollywood, nor that -- despite magazine covers like this one -- complex, three-dimensional parts for leading ladies are still few and far between in the year 2016.

But if you need some help really internalizing just how crappy most of the roles written for women truly are, producer Ross Putman is here to help. Just yesterday the filmmaker started a Twitter account, @femscriptintros, from which to share excerpts of scripts he receives -- specifically, the ways female characters are described as they're introduced.

The only thing altered in these tweets is the character's name: Putnam has changed each one to Jane, both providing anonymity for the script in question and helping to underscore the laughable interchangeability of all these effortlessly beautiful -- maybe also intelligent, hardworking, or funny, but beautiful first and foremost and don't you forget it -- female characters.


After the account amassed more than 22,000 followers in less than 24 hours, Jezebel reached out to Putman to hear about the idea's origins. What started as just a good old-fashioned way to let off steam about shoddy scripts -- via Facebook rants, of course -- apparently grew into something more pointed when the filmmaker started noticing patterns along gender lines.

But the more that I read, the more I started to recognize some pretty awful constants. For every confused “you’re” and “your,” there’s just as much latent misogyny and sexism in the scripts I read. Women are first and foremost described as “beautiful,” “attractive,” or—my personal blow-my-brains-out-favorite, “stunning.” They’re always “stunning” in a certain dress or “stunning” despite being covered in dirt because they’re a paleontologist—or whatever. I found myself posting to Facebook far too often “here comes another script with our 45 year-old male lead dating a 25 year-old woman,” and decided I was going to keep track of the female character introductions in scripts I read for a few weeks.

I went back and combed through past scripts too, and the patterns were pretty disconcerting. I plan on posting every one that I read, and there are plenty that aren’t offensive, but honestly, most of them have some element—subtle or overt—that plays into latent objectification.

Read more of the filmmaker's thoughts on sexism in the industry and (lack of) diversity at the Oscars here. I especially like his description of how deeply the false "beautiful BUT ALSO intelligent!" dichotomy runs through the subtext in many of these introductions.

In any event: If you need a daily laugh/facepalm, it's an account worth following. It certainly won't be running low on material any time soon.