The Australian actress Nicole Kidman testified yesterday before the House International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight Subcommittee on the subject of violence in film, in particular the sickening amount of onscreen violence against women. Kidman stated that many roles portray women as weak, as mere sex objects, or as both and that this permissive attitude of debasement contributes greatly to real life acts of violence perpetrated against women. The actress’ intent was not merely to condemn the film industry for its excesses but also to advance the larger issue of unchecked, infrequently prosecuted violent acts committed against women across the globe.
The Oscar-winning actress said she is not interested in those kinds of demeaning roles, adding that the movie industry also has made an effort to contribute to solutions for ending the violence. Kidman testified before a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee that is considering legislation to address violence against women overseas through humanitarian relief efforts and grants to local organizations working on the problem.
That notable stories like these get submerged underneath the incessant back-and-forth of partisan or even inter-party bickering surprises me not one iota. Such stories are often pigeonholed as merely “women’s topics” or moved to the back of the soft news queue, with the tacit assumption that celebrities are incapable of advancing much beyond their own careers or the manufactured drama designed to garnish publicity. As for this particular example in question, Kidman is notably treading cautiously here, not willing to assign full blame to Hollywood because of her stated belief that it has devoted committed and serious internal efforts towards self-regulation. Forgive me for being skeptical, because I know that few major money-making industries do an adequate job of policing themselves from within. Specifically regarding the celluloid conglomerate, it took the Hays Code and then the puritanical Production Code before Tinseltown ever strongly curtailed the content found in moving pictures.