Tinsel by William Goldman
Am not selective on what I read and when I picked Tinsel, a book written by William Goldman from my bookshelf, I knew characters will be engrossing and entertaining. Its a book filled with sex and desperation and is more like Hollywood era of five decades ago.Tinsel is a book about a Hollywood producer called Julian Garvey whose son in law Schwab the Slob writes one of the greatest scripts the producer has ever read. The challenge comes because no one wants to put up the money for this movie because Scwab is not very well liked in the industry and Garvey is having trouble finding a lead actress for the film because the script requires the actress to be a highly recognised sex symbol and to bare her breasts which was not liked by most of the actresses. The book switches between the current story as well as the history of all the characters. Without any more plot than that, Goldman can only bounce around from character to character, filling in their sleazy show-biz backgrounds and mostly sleazy sex lives. Just about all of this is standard issue especially the teen sex, with such predictable motifs as Pig Higgins, a disastrous attempt at a breast-lift, a heavy irony right out of Valley of the Dolls. Desperate, pig’s the bosomy sometime actress and hooker without portfolio is shacked up in Vegas with the has been rock star who’s doing the music for the picture. Perhaps, stuff such as who will be cast as the lead in a film about Marilyn Monroe’s last days, a role that Raquel Welch turned down because of the extensive nudity involved, Ginger Abraham, a victim of anorexia nervosa and bisexual ex-starlet, the only woman who ever really reached famed womaniser Julian Garvey, who is producing this last movie as he’s dying along with his semi-catatonic son and Dixie Crowder, ex-TV star now married to a millionaire Hollywood dentist-tycoon who loathes show-biz and will leave Dixie if she even thinks of acting again, or the case where Barbra Streisand gets the part, and Pig shrieks, with those tits is she gonna play it? among other stuff will perhaps not have existed if there was a level playing field in the Hollywood. Like many industries, there are multiple factors at play in shutting women out of the film industry. For example, childbirth is an often touted excuse for not advancing women or even having confidence in them with positions of influence or responsibility in Hollywood. There is an argument made for the suitability of the Hollywood industry to family life, with the project-by-project structure of many positions allowing women to pop off and pop one out at will. However, those women who do, however, tend to find the door closed to them when they return.
Back then, women were strikingly under-represented in the screen sector but nowadays the industry is looking positive, particularly with the recent success of female fronted features which have proved once and for all that women’s stories have an audience.A cinematic book by nature, the biggest challenge that faced women in the industry was blindness to existing inequality. There was this general idea that the only reason there aren’t as many females working was because they either didn’t apply or they weren’t there. That was simply not the case. The lead characters in the book are either wounded or in horrible condition which is a reminder that Hollywood has built and destroyed people’s lives in equal measure. I think that once it’s acknowledged there is a problem, there will be more ways Hollywood can look at having more females involved in all roles.William Goldman, a star screenwriter, reveals the inner workings of the film-making business which makes me understand why people always say Hollywood is full of turmoil. In 2016, more than three quarters of films in Hollywood didn’t even make $1m in revenues and as Goldman wrote close to four decades ago, studios are always having a string of flops and when he coined the rule that in Hollywood, “nobody knows anything,” it is therefore the reason why women did everything they could to be at the top whether a film will be a hit or a flop.The book did a very good job describing how difficult it is to get a movie made in Hollywood as well as how the people think in the movie city. The ending lacked excitement, but seemed to clearly assess what would really happen in Hollywood. Goldman shows his flexibility in writing this book as an actor.This book is a classic Hollywood tittle tattle.Many women and some men would try and act against the unrelenting dynamics that ensure male dominance in Hollywood if they understood how and why these dynamics work. Male dominance has not declined since this book was written.
Unless women know how men control the Hollywood industry and unless women understand how they influence the industry’s institutional and social processes, their hopes for developing equitable participation in the industry are unlikely to succeed now just like was the case when William Goldman wrote this book while focusing much of his attention on the illusions by which men and women live in Hollywood. There is no need to maintain the smokescreen around the problem of male domination in the Hollywood screen industries any longer. The historically consistent lack of equity for women in the film industry is not inevitable, but is caused by identifiable networks of people. Since the the 1970s, participation rates for women in key creative roles like producer, director, writer have never come close to attaining parity and thats not likely to change. Efforts have been made over the years largely designed to assist women’s career development but that hasn’t changed anything. It’s hard to see such tentative initiatives doing more than reiterating that the key problem for addressing gender inequity lies with women themselves and not men in Hollywood. Reading this book, it made me understand that blame one women’s omission from the screen industries falls on women themselves and not the so called deeply ingrained pattern of injustice. The film industry has a gender problem. This is not exclusive to Hollywood by any means, and in the film industries across the world it is easier to find a similar story, at times more so, given the industry is so much smaller, leaving less room for women to squeeze in amongst all that incumbent privilege. And this is not the sole battleground for equity within the industry, there are many, many groups that are kept off screens or shut out of the industry like Tinsel book story reveals.The problem is essentially two-fold. To begin with, women working in the industry struggle to get projects developed, funded, distributed and recognised. Also, women on screen, when they do appear, are rarely given any sort of characterisation beyond their function to male protagonists, the love interest, the mother, the sister, the daughter. The cause of the problem is essentially the same, and one is the solution to the other. Arguably, in true Hollywood insider style, one solution in my mind is mentorship women helping women where possible, and taking responsibility for diversity on their own projects. In conclusion, the writer is very candid about his characters and the outcomes of their conflicts in a book that’s all about the inner workings of Hollywood, the greatest and biggest film industry in the world. But from what i have read, its clear the more things change, the more they stay the same.