But there was a second story that caught the eye, and it might be related. You decide.
The New York Times reported that Julie Taymor was recently surprised to learn that her recently completed film, Across the Universe, has been edited without her permission or knowledge. The culprit was no other than Joe Roth, the creator of Revolution Studios, the production company for which the film was made.
Ms. Taymor issued a response that the Times calls "carefully worded." It is more than that. It is temperate. For his part, Roth speaks with care as well. He praises Taymor as a "brilliant director" who has made a "brilliant movie." He says his intervention is completely unexceptional, part of the way that movies are made today.
And then he makes a mistake. He offers "No one is uncomfortable in this process, other than Julie." Really?
Waxman of the Times pounces,
…it is rare for an executive to step in and cut the movie himself. Ms. Taymor was still making her own final edits to the film when she learned several weeks ago that Mr. Roth had edited another, shorter version.
Having your movie editing by the studio head without your permission or knowledge, this is perhaps not at all business as usual. But Roth persists, arguing that his re-editing is in the nature of things. "It’s ‘show’ and it’s ‘business’."
And then he really puts his foot in it. He warned the press that it should not "work off her [Taymor’s] hysteria." Hysteria! Oh, don’t go there, girlfriend. You did not just say "hysteria." This is a loaded word and the unmistakable relic of a sexist regime in which women were excluded from film making and marketing, among other things, on the grounds of emotional instability. "Hysteria" has a long history in the world of psychology and medicine, a diagnostic wound inflicted by a largely male profession on its female "patients."
The question is whether women entering the creative professions, and not just marketing, are playing the game by a new set of rules. Or, and this is the feminist suspicion, it is possible that the beast of sexism is alive and well amongst us, and women are being constrained by an old set of ideas.
Roth may be practicing the studio game in a conventional way, but he is using language that suggests otherwise. Or why not go for the cheap hit: Revolution Studios may not be so revolutionary after all.
Sampey, Kathleen and Aaron Baar. 2007. Wal-Mart Countersues Julie Roehm. BrandWeek. March 20, 2007. here. subscription required.
Waxman, Sharon. 2007. Film Has Two Versions, Only one Is Julie Taynor’s. New York Times. March 20, 2007, pp. B1, B7.