Saturday Night Live recently produced a skit called Actress Round Table, which featured cast members doing impersonations of famous actresses talking about what it’s like to be a woman in Hollywood. The currently working actresses touched on issues such as stereotyping women in mothering roles and being judged by appearance rather than intellect, but Debette Goldry (Kate McKinnon) took it a step further. She touched on some huge issues concerning women in Hollywood that have spanned decades.
First, she talks about how she was drugged to perform. She called it “drugs to wake up, drugs to keep me quiet, drugs to go to sleep”. She talked about how her male producers would give her shots of opium between her toes to keep her quiet, and then give her other drugs to wake her for performances. This is a comedy skit, but male producers drugging female actresses is a real problem. Second, she talks about how a producer demanded she have sex with him to get the role. This practice is well documented in the history of Hollywood, and it’s just as horrible now as it was then. She satirically called it “a fair trade”. Third, she talks about payment. She discusses that it was in her contract that she had to entertain troops for free. She then goes on to joke that she didn’t realize it was for the other side, and she ended up performing for Nazi’s. Again, while this is a comedy skit, the issue of sneaking clauses into contracts to control women is nothing new. Alfred Hitchcock was notorious for trying to control the lives of “his” actresses. Fourth, when another actress brings up the idea that there needs to be more women writing roles, she says, “Women, writers? First you’d have to teach them how to read.” She then says that there was a role that they cast a horse in instead of her because it could pretend to read better than she could. It’s a fact- there aren’t enough female writers in Hollywood. We’ve studied the statistics in Professor Dalton’s class for years, and the bottom line is we need more women in the writing room.
I love Saturday Night Live, and the way they fearlessly tackle big issues. I felt that this particular skit was extremely relevant to our class because it satirizes the way women in Hollywood have been treated in the modern era. I’ll attach the link to the video so you can watch it yourself!