Women’s equality in Hollywood is lacking

Janet Jackson dancing on the Super Bowl stage as Timberlake sings behind her, just minutes before the incident.

Dani Pasco, Co-Editor

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Since 1920, when women gained the right to vote, women have been trying to gain equality with men in the workplace. It’s almost 100 years later, and still America sees many examples of gender inequality in every field in the country, especially the entertainment industry.

In these days, women make up at least half of the entertainment industry, but they don’t got the recognition they deserve. When women pursue a singing career, usually they not only have to have a good voice, but also have to perfect their beauty. Female singers end up being overly modified sex symbols for the rest of society to judge, not based on talent or skill but on looks. Men entertainers don’t have the same expectations by society. Any man can look any way he wants, and the only thing they will be judged for is their ability to entertain.

Many students at Milford are too young to know about the commotion of the Super Bowl halftime show in 2004, but it may have been the start of everything we expect today. For the show, P. Diddy, Nelly, and Kid Rock sang, while Janet Jackson made her debut live afterwards, dancing her way to infamy. It would have been the perfect way to boost her career, but after the performance, Hollywood and many music industries blacklisted her for years to come.

Justin Timberlake joined her on stage during the last 5 minutes of her performance, singing “Rock Your Body” from his then upcoming album “Justified”. Everything was fine until the last line of the song was sung, “I’m gonna have you naked by the end of this song,” and quickly pulled off her chest piece, which cameras caught for a few seconds before changing angles to hide the now-coined term “wardrobe malfunction.” This started an uproar with thousands of complaints called in to MTV, who produced the show. Many people saw this as the deterioration of entertainment in the new age, causing massive backlash to both MTV and Jackson; but suspiciously not Timberlake, who did overwhelmingly well with his new album.

It was stated by both Jackson and Timberlake that it was an embarrassing accident. The plan was, without ripping off her entire top piece, was to rip off only the outer garment, leaving the under garment on, but it ripped and there was no going back. This wasn’t actually planned by CBS, however, and the change in choreography was made with Jackson and Timberlake after the final rehearsal, which both admitted.  After the incident, CBS forced Jackson to make an apology video, in which she apologized for the incident. Timberlake, however, was not forced to make a video or apologize in anyway, and rather distanced himself from the incident and left Jackson to suffer the blame.

It was very clear to all of America who was the real person to blame, but still there was no equal punishment. Was it because Jackson was the one in the clothing, or because it’s easier to blame the woman?

After the incident, it took eight years for there to be another solo female singer in the halftime show of the Super Bowl. 2012 featured Madonna and Nicki Minaj, but alongside many other male performers. Only when 2013 came did we see the main performance be female, with singer Beyonce and band Destiny’s Child.

In the recent music video controversy, “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke, all the video was about was a well-dressed man treating the prancing ladies very poorly, where they are just used as props instead of adding anything worthwhile to the music or video.

A woman’s reputation in the industry is everything. Miley Cyrus, who achieved stardom in her early acting career on the Disney kid’s show “Hannah Montana”, used to be perceived as the perfect role model for young girls. Then, she started posing for magazines in questionable clothes, and recently has sealed the deal in her descent into infamy with her recent performance at the VMA awards.

Although she still holds all the talent she did when she was younger, the media’s perception dropped way low with her twerking on Robin Thicke on live tv. Now, instead of America judging her based on her very capable singing abilities, she’s now forever known as the girl with the weird pigtails and bad performance.

It may have been her choice to do what she did, but the fact is, anything less than those particular dance moves and dress would have kept her below the media’s attention. It is not talent that makes you famous for women, it’s the outlandish “scandalous” behavior that does. That must change.

The entertainment industry has hurt the pursuit of women’s equality. In America, if women are allowed to be treated this way, men should as well. If Jackson was punished as harshly as she was, then Timberlake should have been punished just the same. But things aren’t like that. The American standards for women should have only gotten better as time goes on, and it has in almost every area. But when it comes to a female’s image being part of her career, the gender equality factor seemed to have gone backwards.

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