This Changes Everything Parent Guide
Media has the power to educate and shape people's thoughts. What happens when women are excluded from that process?
Parent Movie Review
“Media has the power to educate; to shape people’s thoughts. It also has an incredible power when you see someone like you on screen.” So says Shonda Rhimes, successful screenwriter, when discussing the problems of gender disparity in the entertainment industry. Fifty-one percent of the population is female, but for the past 80 years, there have been three times as many male actors on the big screen as there have been female actors. And the male actors have three-quarters of the speaking parts. How extensive is the problem of female under-representation in Hollywood and what effect does it have on the people who consume the media?
These are some of the questions tackled in the documentary, This Changes Everything. Drawing on interviews with highly successful women in the industry – Meryl Streep, Jessica Chastain, Reese Witherspoon, Sandra Oh, Shonda Rhimes – director Tom Donahue delves into issues like sexual harassment, objectification, the camera’s male gaze, gender stereotypes, and male-centered stories.
The film also goes behind the camera to speak with female directors and explore what happens when women’s career paths are blocked, denying them the opportunity to tell their stories and shape our culture’s understanding of women’s lives. They discuss the 1984 sexual discrimination lawsuit launched against Hollywood studios by the Director’s Guild of America – which was instigated by six female directors – and jump ahead to a current US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigation of the studios.
While most of the movie is depressing, there are bright moments that stand out. Sweden marks movie posters with stickers to indicate if they have passed the Bechdel test – a simple test that determines if a film contains two female characters who have conversations that don’t revolve around men. And Geena Davis has founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media which has funded research studies to quantify the under-representation of female characters on screen. That institute has also reached out to work collaboratively with studios, particularly those producing children’s television, to increase diverse representation in programming. And some networks have made a sustained effort to increase the diversity of the people on both sides of the camera – and have found increased profitability.
This Changes Everything is a fine documentary with interesting anecdotes and a solid grasp of the facts. It ranges from personal stories – Chloe Grace Moretz sharing her feelings of being objectified when she was told to insert silicone implants in her push up bra at age 16 – all the way to penetrating historical analysis – why did women succeed in the early years of the movie industry only to disappear when “talkies” came on the scene?
This movie isn’t for everyone. Kids will likely be bored with it but older teens and adults who are interested in learning about and discussing topics related to entertainment, gender, diversity, discrimination, and similar themes will find that This Changes Everything will challenge or even change their perspectives on the media they consume.Directed by Tom Donahue. Starring Geena Davis, Cate Blanchett, and Jackie Cruz. Running time: 96 minutes. Theatrical release August 30, 2019. Updated September 4, 2019
Watch the trailer for This Changes Everything
This Changes Everything
Rating & Content Info
Why is This Changes Everything rated Not Rated? This Changes Everything is rated Not Rated by the MPAA
Violence: Brief movie clips are seen with characters punching, kicking, and shooting one another. These clips are shown for discussion purposes; not for entertainment.
Sexual Content: There is a non-explicit discussion of sexual harassment and the “casting couch”. Women are seen in underwear and other revealing clothes in film clips.
Profanity: Two sexual expletives and a smattering of scatological terms.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Brief movie clips are seen where characters consume alcohol or smoke.
Page last updated September 4, 2019
This Changes Everything Parents' Guide
Do you think it’s important to see yourself or people like you in the media you consume? What happens if you’re “invisible” in the media world?
Huffpost: Why seeing yourself on screen matters
Do you think it’s important to incorporate a wide range of perspectives in media? What do consumers lose if they don’t hear from women, people of color, the disabled, or immigrants? Why is increasing diversity such a challenge?
Vice.com: The need for racial diversity on screen
Did you know that most movies, including kids’ films, portray skewed gender roles? Were you aware that even in female-centered kids’ movies, the male characters still have most of the speaking roles? How do you think this situation affects the girls and boys who watch the movies and TV shows? What do you think can be done to counterbalance the messages kids receive through the media?
New York Film Academy: Gender Inequality in Film Infographic
Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media: Research on gender imbalance in media
Washington Post: Less than a third of speaking roles go to women
Washington Post: Men have most of the speaking roles in Disney movies
Related home video titles:
A number of family-friendly films feature strong female characters. Some of these include:
In A League of Their Own, a women’s baseball league comes up to bat while the male players are fighting in World War II.
Bend It Like Beckham tells the story of Jessminder’s struggle to balance her parents’ cultural expectations with her desire to play soccer.
Hidden Figures is based on the true story of the contribution African American made to the space race.
Sandra Bullock stars as a female astronaut in Gravity.
Brave follows a willful princess who has to rescue her mother – who’s been transformed into a bear.
In Mulan a young woman disguises herself as a man and takes her father’s place in the Chinese military.