The leading man had stuck his foot in it last week, telling Australian Women’s Weekly that there are plenty of roles for middle-aged women in Hollywood. “The best thing about the industry I’m in — movies — is that there are roles for people in all different stages of life.”
He continued, “To be honest, I think you’ll find that the woman who is saying that [the roles have dried up] is the woman who at 40, 45, 48, still wants to play the ingénue and can’t understand why she’s not being cast as the 21-year-old.”
Presumably knocking Crowe, Golden Globes host Amy Poehler joked that the movie “Boyhood” “proves that there are still great roles for women over 40 as long as you get hired when you’re under 40.”
But then an odd thing happened. Julianne Moore, 53, won the award for Best Actress in a Drama.
In her acceptance speech, Moore said the author of the book “Still Alice” told her no one wanted to turn the novel into a movie because no one wanted to watch a film about a middle-aged woman.
Well, apparently some people did.
Then Amy Adams, 40, won for “Big Eyes,” a movie about a middle-aged woman who gets screwed over by a husband who takes all the credit for her work. Adams offered a paean to all the powerful women in the audience who were setting a great example for her young daughter.
Patricia Arquette, 46, won for Best Supporting Actress.
Yes, 32-year-old Ruth Wilson won for Best Actress in a TV Series. But the other nominees — Julianna Margulies (48), Viola Davis (49), Robin Wright (48) — were no spring chickens. Indeed, the small screen seems to be much more hospitable to the middle-aged.
On the merits, of course, Russell Crowe is wrong. In one calculation cited by The Guardian, in 2014’s 20 highest-grossing films (excluding animations), “on average, three out of 10 actors were women — only a pathetic 8 percent of those actors were aged between 40 and 59, while just 2 percent were women over 60.”
For his ignorance here, the Guardian dubbed him “Crowe Magnon.” A Sydney Morning Herald columnist put the Australian actor on a long list of “macho s-?-t heads” in Hollywood. The Web site Jezebel just called him “full of s-?-t.”
To these commenters, Crowe isn’t just wrong, he’s one of the male chauvinists preventing older women from getting good roles. If only.
Underlying all the humor Sunday night is the assumption that Hollywood is sexist. What they miss is that Hollywood producers don’t care one way or the other about the feminist agenda. (Indeed, they most likely sympathize personally.)
All Hollywood cares about is money. That’s why it keeps making more movies about superheroes with hot leading ladies than stirring films about middle-aged women.
We can’t even blame male viewers for this, since women have made up half or more of the theater-going population for the past few years. Female filmgoers don’t seem to mind the small percentage of older women on the screen. Call it sexism, but women seeing movies with men are probably still more likely to go see “Superman” than “Still Alice.”
What feminists really want to do is change the cultural attitude toward older women, and they’re frustrated Hollywood isn’t coming to their aid.
But they’re not the first to be annoyed with what comes out of Hollywood. More than a decade ago, Telecom mogul Philip Anschutz decided to back the family-friendly film company Walden Media.
In a speech in February 2005, Anschutz explained why: “My friends think I’m a candidate for a lobotomy, and my competitors think I’m naïve or stupid or both. But you know what? I don’t care. If we can make some movies that have a positive effect on people’s lives and on our culture, that’s enough for me.”
If feminists want to change what’s playing at the cineplex, they should ask George Soros or Sheryl Sandberg or other philanthropists to put their money where their mouth is.
In the meantime, they can stay at home and watch Netflix.
Naomi Schaefer Riley is a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.