Monday, 28 August 2017

Frances Marion: One of the First Hollywood Screenwriters



Over half the scripts written during Hollywood’s silent era were written by women. The women came from a variety of backgrounds when they entered the industry. Some were actors, some came from Broadway and others started off as journalists, to name a few professions. Largely unknown to a modern film audience, Frances Marion was one of the first well established and sought-after screenwriters in American cinema. During the 1910s to late 1930s, she penned many scripts for films that are now considered classics. She wrote across many genres and even received academy awards for The Big House (1930) and The Champ (1931).

Born on the 18th of November 1888, in San Francisco, her parents named her Marion Benson Owens. She would later be inspired and take her screen credit from famous American Civil War soldier Frances Marion. She started out as a journalist, model, career artist and World War I correspondent before eventually moving to Los Angeles.

Marion’s Hollywood career began in the early 1910s when she was hired as a writing and general assistant at Lois Weber Productions. The company was started by Florence Lois Weber, herself a pioneering film director. It was here that Marion learnt about the film industry and honed her script writing skills.

Written with Anita Loos, her first screenplay was The New York Hat (1912). It was directed by the legendary D. W. Griffith and starred the day’s most well-known actress Mary Pickford. The experience was great exposure for Marion and started a powerhouse partnership (and friendship) with Pickford.



Marion and Pickford had similar mindsets and worked extremely well together. Director and acquaintance Clarence Brown noted their strong chemistry and compared their ability to create new material together as being “spontaneously combustible”. It wasn’t long before they became close friends and regularly spent time together outside of work. Pickford soon hired Marion as her exclusive writer. Some of their greatest collaborations include The Little Princess (1917), Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1917), Stella Maris (1918) and Pollyanna (1920).

On the production of The Poor Little Rich Girl (1917), Marion and Pickford were creating comedy material that clashed with director Maurice Tourneur’s vision. He felt the subject material was too dark in nature to make funny. But because Pickford was the star and had creative authority, Tourneur’s objections were overruled. Based on a play by Eleanor Gates, the story follows a young girl – Gwen (played by Pickford) – in a middle-class family who is lonely and unwanted. Her parents make no time for her and the housing staff, who are responsible for Gwen’s wellbeing, push her around and abuse her. Producers were also not happy with the film’s final cut and thought it was in their best interests not to release it. Marion was distraught that she had possibly destroyed Pickford’s career. The two campaigned, the producers gave in and the film was distributed. It was a success and was responsible for Pickford’s trend of playing young children in comedy roles. She was twenty-four when she played 11-year-old Gwen.



By the 1920s, Marion was one of the most popular Hollywood screenwriters with a string of hits to her name. She was the highest paid screenwriter earning $3000 a week (no figures in this article have been adjusted for inflation), an astronomical amount never heard of before in the industry at the time. Marion gained critical acclaim for Stella Dallas (1925) and The Son of the Sheik (1926). She even had a hand in directing with Just Around the Corner (1921), The Love Light (1921) and The Song of Love (1923).

Marion retired from screenwriting in the late 1930s. She was disillusioned by the state of Hollywood screenwriting and described it as “like writing on sand with the wind blowing”. She found it very restrictive in its rigid, structured approach. At this stage in her career, she had written over 100 scripts and won countless awards. She wrote Pickford’s last starring film, Secrets (1933), before Pickford retired from acting to focus on producing. Their partnership had lasted nearly twenty years. In 1937, Marion wrote one of the first guides on American screenwriting, How to Write and Sell Film Stories. The book was taught as part of the film curriculum at the University of South California.

Marion spent her later years writing stage plays and novels. She passed away in 1972. Her academy award winning script, The Champ, was remade in 1979 and starred Jon Voight and Faye Dunaway. Marion will be played by Julia Stiles in an upcoming Mary Pickford biopic, The First (2017).



By: Matthew J. Healy
Sources:
Frances Marion – Biography.com (https://www.biography.com/people/frances-marion-214110)
Frances Marion – IMDB (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0547966/)
Profile - Frances Marion (https://wfpp.cdrs.columbia.edu/pioneer/ccp-frances-marion/)
Julia Stiles To Play Scribe Frances Marion In Mary Pickford Pic ‘The First’ (http://deadline.com/2013/01/julia-stiles-frances-marion-mary-pickford-the-first-418595/)
The Poor Little Rich Girl: Mary Pickford and her wordsmith. (https://trueclassics.net/2012/06/03/the-poor-little-rich-girl-mary-pickford-and-her-wordsmith/)
This Forgotten Female Screenwriter Helped Give Hollywood Its Voice (http://time.com/4186886/frances-marion/)


Monday, 21 August 2017

Inspiration as Salvation - A Message of Hope to Those with Chronic Illness


It is my firm belief that everyone on the planet needs someone or something to inspire them. 

Inspiration can come from many places; from the loved ones in your life, to an important and just cause, to the beauty of the world, to its profound sadness. It manifests itself in art, music, devotion and hard work. It is what drives us, gives us purpose and provides us with a comforting sense of something greater than ourselves.

For the first 24 years of my life, my father was my inspiration. My father was a South African lawyer and anti-apartheid activist; he was an intellectual and a dreamer; he was a poet and a comedian; he was tender yet hard to reach; he was sensitive and quietly passionate; he was cynical and painfully hopeful.  He was my example, he was my guide.

 I looked up to him like a flower does the sun, and when his light went out, so did mine.

I was living in Australia when my father suddenly died. At the time I had just had a breakthrough with the chronic illness I had been battling for the past 12 months - a diagnosis and some treatment.  I had moved to be with my partner in Sydney and had barely settled into my new orthotics and medication when I received the news. Suddenly all the progress I had made vanished; the illness aggressively took advantage of me in my grief-weakened state, and spread from its anchor point in my back and neck, into my legs, hands and feet.  I fell into a thick swamp of depression, and as the sun rose each day and I awoke to the all-over body aches, stiffness and pounding pain.  I all but lost the will to live.

Everyone needs something to live for, and nowhere is inspiration more needed than in the lives of people suffering chronic illness.  Without my dad, I felt lost, afraid and hopeless.  I was struggling against a body wracked with sickness, and a mind torn apart by unbearable loss.  Yet even in the depths of my sorrow, I began searching for new meaning in my life.

It’s sometimes hard to define how inspiration comes about.  For me, it came in several forms and from different sources.  My father’s anti-apartheid activism was of course inspiring to me.  However, I had also been touched by an experience I’d had at University, one that had planted seeds in me that later germinated in my grief.

To this day, I am grateful to my friend Maddy, who encouraged me to come to a talk by Jackson Katz which she had organised at our Uni.  Maddy was a feminist, and had often invited me to come to her women’s group’s events and gatherings.  I was supportive of the cause, but too distracted by pain to pay it any attention.  However, when I researched Katz and found him featured in a thought-provoking documentary (Generation M: Misogyny in Media and Culture) I became intrigued.  Needless to say, Katz gave an immensely powerful talk that day, one that would go onto change my life. 

Years later, in the depths of my shredded mind, I recalled  that talk and how much it had inspired me want to do something about the inequality in the world. One day in 2011, in our small apartment in Carramar, I pulled myself out of bed, sat at the computer and began to research the topics Katz had covered in his talk, and which I had seen illuminated in that documentary.  I have always been a driven person who, when she sets her mind to something, is really quite unstoppable.  I had thought that chronic illness would prevent me from doing much of anything in my life, so crippling was the pain, but the more I explored feminism, the more motivated I became to act. I could feel the energy rising in me, electrifying my limbs and shaking my mind loose from the grip of despair.  I became acutely aware of my own oppression, as well as the oppression of others, and felt, as my father must have all those years ago, the powerful desire to affect change in the world.

I went from reading books and watching documentaries about feminism, to starting a Meetup group for it online in 2012.  I purchased licenses to publicly and freely screen documentaries around the city of Sydney, trying to get the word out in the hopes it would inspire other people to action.  I started to network with other groups, attended my very first rallies and marches and fell blindly into the giddying world of left-wing activism.  Through all the pain, fatigue, nausea, anxiety and grief, I found and channelled a veritable quasar of energy into the cause.

This came at a cost to my physical health.  I greatly overdid it, and wore myself out to near breaking point.  But by the end of that frantic period of activity, I had built a non-profit organisation, one that reached out to, supported and inspired thousands of other women and men.  By 2016, The Sydney Feminists was a fully incorporated educational organisation, going into schools universities and even penitentiaries to teach people about gender, sexism and ways they themselves could work towards a better world. 

Today, I have learned to better manage my chronic illness.  I practice self-care, pacing, maintain a good diet, exercise and sleep routine and regularly see my doctor and specialists for support.  I still wake up with intense pain each morning, and battle a slew of symptoms on a daily basis, but because I have purpose, I can get through it.  Feminism has become the new beacon of light in my life, one that guides me and motivates me.  The incredible people I’ve met, along with the intensely rewarding work that I do, gives me more than enough reason to push through all the pain.  I want to be here.  I want to help.

I realize now that it was through activism that I was able to connect with my father again. I could walk in his footsteps, but in my own way, and on my own path.  Activism, and feminism in particular, gave my life meaning at a time I needed it most. And while I am no longer fuelled by grief, I am still inspired daily by the women I work with and the incredible causes they champion.  I no longer look to one individual for inspiration, but to many, and I am both grateful and honoured to be a part of this movement. 


Feminism saved my life, and I am ever thankful to the women and men who introduced me to it. My message to all people, especially those suffering from chronic pain or illness, is to find something that truly, deeply inspires you, and dedicate your energy to it.  It may take trial and error, and it may take time, but when you find something that really inspires you, all the precious energy you put into it you will get back in dividends. 

That is the magic of inspiration.  It draws out your potential, and allows you to fully blossom in your newfound sun.





By: Tessa Barratt, Founder of The Sydney Feminists 

Monday, 14 August 2017

The Disease of The Fashion Industry


By Dorka N.

Have you ever heard that if something is repeated often enough people start to believe it? This phenomena is all around us and is so widely spread and crucially ACCEPTED. However, it is the media playing mind games on human beings.

Media today is present in all sectors of our lives, often causing more damage than actual good. It is only natural that we fall victim to its intrusive nature, but in the fashion industry its impact is especially negative. Their adverts can be considered quite persuasive as they constantly tell us that we will feel a certain way after having bought their product, or by looking like the models. This constant pressure to conform to mass-manufactured beauty ideals can cause a great deal of stress and unhappiness in many women.

First of all, I believe eating disorders and false body image are always rooted in one or more great problems causing depression, either mild, moderate or severe. They have an obvious similarity: they last long and are not ’one time disorders ’; they do not last for one bad day or for a few hours while crying. So what exactly is the reason people develop eating disorders, especially a specific group of society?

Lack of self-love and self-respect.


Let me put it this way: teenage girls are considered to be the majority suffering from eating disorders, but they are not weak. They just never learned to love themselves enough, and that is the great problem of our society. They allow the pressure the media applies on them and are happy to go with the flow beyond themselves as they believe they may be accepted by the society if they lose weight. As the idealized skinny bodies are the centres of this industry and the world as well, they believe it is the only right way to live – be thin, eat small portions or starve, and when these don’t work they turn to more serious methods such as vomiting after binge eating.

Stop for a minute. Sounds surreal or sounds familiar? It is real. These issues are real but we are too scared or prudish to talk about them, although I have never met a girl or a woman who actually loved her body. We are taught by the media that we are not allowed to take up space in this world. Only those who are considered to be good enough, who are thin, are the owners of thigh gaps and a flat stomach. It’s the worst joke I have ever heard!  Do not ever dare to shrink yourself for someone else’s comfort, they are teaching you to be as small as possible. You are good for your mind and thoughts, you are enough for how your heart reaches out to others and you are amazing for your words, for how you treat people.

Calories were never the problem. Emphasis should be on the meaning of calories, they are the fountains of your energy. You cannot function and live properly and healthily without consuming the thought-to-be little devils, although they are not. They are numbers. Numbers do not define people, you define yourself when you start believing you are not good enough for this world, only after getting rid of parts of yourself.

I know the feeling of guilt after meals, which can tear you down even after an apple. I know how bad you wish to punish yourself by starving for days after you have consumed a proper meal. But it is never worth it and skinny makes you happy for a while, but those diseases and illnesses people warn you about in case you continue your starvation – they are also real. I am there. But you, you must not go there. I dare you to realize you are so worth it, without having to experience an illness as a consequence of the combination of your anorexia, bulimia and depression.


Why do you put your self-esteem in the hands of complete strangers? You are an individual, a one-time human being, who should not let media define her/ him. I am definitely not saying that recovering or healing are easy tasks to do. It takes time: months, years. And the process needs to be carried out by the smallest steps and the smallest portions. Start by not weighing yourself 5 times a day, by not photographing your thighs or your stomach and hoping for your bones to show. Food is not standing in your way, you are standing in your own way.


Find yourself, find something to make you happy and be engaged in activities to draw your attention - much of your pain is self-chosen, stop destroying yourself and your peace of mind. You are in a tiny box surrounded by walls and your problems are valid. But you need to know the world, to acknowledge the wonders of nature, the beauty of humankind. There are so many things to learn, so many places waiting to be explored; stop dying slowly. Take part in global, local programs to feel that you belong to the world, that there are so many opportunities and eternal resources of knowledge and love you can put your energy into instead of focusing on not eating that piece of chocolate or that small portion of rice. 


It is possible and recovery is beautiful and trust me, you will be so proud of yourself. And the strength you will develop during that period of time? No one will be able to take that away from you and here we are – another strong woman is born.

About the author: "My name is Dorka, I am a Hungarian feminist who is concerned about politics and equal rights. Studying at Corvinus University of Budapest, playing music, spreading strength."

Monday, 7 August 2017

What is Feminism? Eliminating Incorrect Notions Of Feminism


Feminism…

What is feminism? How has it become one of the most trending topics of all time? Do people have a complete knowledge of it? Questions like these always raise topics to discuss. Men these days are blaming feminism for the ‘unequal’ treatment of males. According to many men, women are not using their rights in a ‘correct’ manner. They claim that women are taking all these rights for granted. They are building this notion that women are misusing their rights and trying to degrade men.
Ideas like these are often created by the people who want to establish a false image of Feminism. They see each ‘Feminist‘ as someone who wants to lower the position of men in order to uplift women’s status in the society. However, it’s indicative of their lack of knowledge that they see Feminists as ruthless rebels who want to conquer the world!
So, it’s necessary for each man as well as each woman to have a complete knowledge of what feminism actually is. Let’s read further to gain more knowledge!

What Is Feminism?
Feminism is a social, economic, political and cultural movement which focuses on creating the equal status of women in society. It aims to give women the right to live a life of equality. It expands its coverage on educational as well as professional employment opportunities. Feminists around the globe raise awareness of women’s rights, and encourage women to use these rights to their full potential. Various institutions are working to help women succeed in their lives; all this under the banner of Feminism.

Why Feminism?

Women, for years, have been put in the category of a vulnerable and weak class which can be easily exploited. It was not just restricted to a certain place or a country; it was all over the world. Women were expected to lead their lives according to the leading male figure. In some countries, women didn’t have basic rights such as property ownership, voting or to even study.
What could be worse than not being able to live your life in the way you want? Women were seen as ‘objects,’ who owe their breath to their male representative. The selling of young girls, the killing of girl children or the custom of dowry, whichever way it was, women were exploited in each and every sphere of life. They didn’t have the permission to raise their voice and express themselves freely. Highly oppressed by the society, women were treated as a mere lifeless dolls.
Thus, this movement was the need of the hour, to fight against gender inequality.
Emergence of Feminism

The term came into the popular imagination when it was used in the movie ‘Woman of the year,’ in the year 1942, where Katherine Hepburn spoke about the “feminist movement.” This introduced Feminism, in a small way, into the light of popular culture. But it was slow to gain popularity at that time. The emergence of Feminism is divided into Three Parts which are known as:

The Three Waves of Feminism.
  • Between the period of late 14th and early 15th century, Christine De Pisan, one of the first known feminist philosophers, raised her voice for the much-needed education for women. Afterward, many movements arose to take this wave of Feminism further and accomplish its sole goal of women’s empowerment (such as the suffragette movement in the late 19th and early 20th century).
  • The second wave is recognized as occurring in the decades of 1960s and 1970s, during which time feminists focused on civil rights, such as basic as equality and justice. It brought light to topics like employment discrimination, the unequal salary of men and women for the same work and job security for women. Their efforts brought many changes in the laws which provided equal pay for work and equal opportunities for growth. Still, in many countries, women are less employed and under paid.
  • It was at the end of the 20th century that the feminists of the world were brought together and formed a stronger unit. Feminists of America and Europe united with the Asian, Latin American and African Feminists to aspire to the ultimate goal of gender equality. Feminists studied the situation of the world and they got to know the more horrifying acts practiced upon women, which includes widow burning, child marriage, and female genital cutting. The movement became stronger and aimed to end all these evil practices.



Feminism Today…

Feminism is a worldwide phenomenon today. It is gaining more popularity because of the digital age. Social media is proving to be one of the most powerful tools for women to express their views. A Feminist is not necessarily required to be a woman; men can be feminists too. Anyone who wants the equal status of women and no gender discrimination becomes a feminist.

Feminists have had success in many countries. The situation of women is far better than what it used to be. All this is happening because women stood up for their empowerment. The problem remains that women still get judgments on their looks, clothes and even on the work they do. No matter how intelligent a woman is or how successful she is, society still demands her to excel in household chores to get the label of ‘ideal’ women. Though these things have a psychological impact on women, they are striving hard to become women of substance.

Correcting Skewed Notions of Feminism

What’s more disturbing is that when women are struggling to get their basic rights in society, men are claiming that women are being selfish! What men need to understand is that Feminism does not demand their degradation; instead Feminists wants an equal world. Feminism is a movement which aims to dismantle the stereotypes and roles assigned to gender. Why can’t a man take care of the house the way a woman does? Why can’t women run a whole business empire the way men do? Society has drawn upon these imagined differences across the ages.

Since birth, girls and boys get taught different lessons on how they should be. Girls in society are instructed to be polite, gentle, mature and beautiful. But boys can lead a carefree, rough, tough life. Feminism wants all these notions to take a backseat and seeks to build a world where there are equal opportunities for all! Feminism has come a long way but it still has a long way to go. Till then - be a strong Feminist!


By Divyanka. Reposted with permission from WomenLite.com

About the author: Divyanka Sehdev runs a women's lifestyle website which is focused on
empowering women and improving their lifestyle.


Wednesday, 2 August 2017

A little feminism never hurts


by Dorka N.

I definitely want to get something straight for all of you reading this: advocating feminism means standing up for equal rights among the genders. Equal possibilities, equal payment, equal treatment. Equality in all fields of life.

Feminism is not rage or hate towards men. It has always incorporated the necessary respect for men as they are also considered human beings just like women. People are so scared of this 'F word' and many feel threatened by the movement as it is spreading worldwide.

These opponents of feminism can be divided into groups based on their wishes. As far as women are concerned they can freely decide whether they want to build a career, want to be successful entrepreneurs and do business or, if they wish, to stay at home with their children, or both. On the other hand, on the side of the men the ideas are quite different, because they are the ones oppressing women for centuries. They are either for or against equality.

In this day and age women should be allowed to work as much as men and get equal payment, but there is still ~25% difference between the salaries of the genders. What men should, in fact, realise is that women are not threats. There are plenty of them living as single mothers working more jobs and still cooking at home and taking care of their child – multifunctional, if you ask me.
The reason why men, who are against this movement, stick to this mindset is that they feel threatened and intimidated by these women.




Just consider this: men and women are both working, earning the same amount of money and the women can still have time to cook at home or if she doesn’t feel like cooking one day they can still order something or eat out – since they have the money from both sides, but naturally men are also allowed to cook. Would it actually harm anyone?

However, the answer is not somebody, but something. It is the ego of men. Women have always been considered to be the ’weaker gender’, to be fragile, but why exactly is that? 

Both used to work on farms, in industry, in agriculture, on the fields, in the computer section. During wars, while men were fighting on the battlefields, it was the women who kept up the good work in the factories, in manufacturing. The world has already experienced what it is like having women in all fields of work. In a way, it can be attributed to the fact that the during this time, countries were left helpless without a workforce, so women had to do the work – and how brilliantly! So why not give women the chance to do this for longer period of time, for the same wages?

The aforementioned ego is the monster. Men are too proud to admit that it would be beneficial for the whole world if all of us were equal. Pragmatic Sanction with Maria Theresa?* Constantly attacked. A woman in the parliament? Disaster. Because these are threats. Men trying to oppress feminism are those who could not (or do not wish to) be multifunctional – cook, work, raise a child - that is why they need women for cooking and children only. These men hardly dare ask for help from friends or family, but to admit that women have the same rights in this world, that we were all born free into – this is beyond them. And the sense of superiority lingers while tearing the human beauties of this world down.

I must turn your attention to other men as well; let’s not forget those who acknowledge the greatness of women, who have experienced how much they are capable of achieving. Language exams, caring and loving, degrees, warm homes, CEOs, delicious meals, diplomas, smart children, simultaneously working more jobs and raising tiny humans – and they still have time to be the gorgeous creatures they have always been. Men supporting this ideal, thank you. YOU along with the strong women are the future dismantlers of this patriarchal society.



* When Charles III was the last male Habsburg he wanted to secure the throne of the Habsburg Empire for his daughter, Maria Theresa and after several debates the Pragmatic Sanction was accepted in 1722-23, which included the succession of the female line. She did become queen, but several male members of both the Habsburg dynasty and other relatives claimed the throne.



About the author: "My name is Dorka, I am a Hungarian feminist who is concerned about politics and equal rights. Studying at Corvinus University of Budapest, playing music, spreading strength."

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