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      • LLOL! I seriously stared at his name in the tags for quite a while before I decided that it probably WAS his actual name, and not a pun. And really it seemed destined to be a pun.

    • WTF, internet explorer!!!

      I do find it craigmazing to see the “Oh, girls must just not be into this” juxtaposed with “Oh… that script was cute.”

      There must be words I’m not aware of that people use to be dismissive of guy work. “Funny”? “Interesting”, if it’s not intended to be funny?

      I wonder to what extent people are unconsciously being dismissive of work by women, and to what extent they’re being dismissive of something they would be dismissive of anyway but using a women-specific word.

      But ime, people have a hard time relating to work that doesn’t speak to their experiences… and unless they’re trying consciously to bridge that gap and imagine what this other audience would enjoy, they’re kind of already being dimissive. Not these guys specifically, but they’re presumably as subject to it as anybody else. So yeah: “cute”?

      (Also, “interesting” and “funny” are at least things that a script is SUPPOSED to be. Cute is something that a small dog or a hairstyle is supposed to be. Basically I’m being as fair as I can, and this dismissiveness… still ain’t cute.)

  1. also – and I mean no offense to whichever scriptwriter that was, because I’m sure the script itself rocked out – based on the plot summary, maybe “cute” is their idea of a nice way to say “boring”?

    or “boring, but written by a lady who might be hot?”

    • Hi! I’m the writer of the script called “cute” (well, this particular script) . You can read the 3 pages they critiqued here:(http://johnaugust.com/Assets/sarah_nerboso.pdf) and judge for yourself. Awesome Girl is the comic book created by the main character and who she aspires to be, but real life is more complicated.

      Anyway, thanks so much to Pamie for writing this column. I definitely winced when the pages were called “cute”. And I joked to my friends who listened about the irony of following up a discussion of the dearth women writers with declaring pages written by a woman “cute”. The word doesn’t have to be a dismissal, but it is usually is. It usually means you’re not being taken seriously. So much is in the tone … but it’s hard to imagine when it’s ever a positive for a script.

      • Norma

        It’s the Internet equivalent of patting you on the head. Repellant. I liked your pages (very curious about where it’s going) and yes, calling your writing cute is being dismissive. This is clearly not in their wheelhouse, so they must deride it. I would call Mazin’s brand of comedy bro-sgusting. No way he’s going to get your voice.

        I’d prefer, really, that men just stop commenting on this altogether. The assumption that women must not want to be writers because they don’t get a big bag of red CAA scripts from women is totally misguided. Because it cannot possibly be that women really AREN’T getting the opportunities. It’s too threatening to some men to consider that.

        I could go on, I’m so mad. Just one more thing: Why is it that men can go to meetings looking like they were just rolled in a 7-11 parking lot while women get criticized for not being pleasing to the eye? I’m a writer, for God’s sake, not a contestant on America’s Next Top Model. And yes, this is feedback that actually happened.

        SIGH.

      • Hi, Sarah! I just read your pages, which I really liked. And then I immediately tried to find a review that called Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World “cute.” I didn’t see one. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/scott_pilgrims_vs_the_world/

        I winced so hard at “cute” because it was immediately the answer to “why weren’t more women interested in hearing our thoughts?”

        And I’m going to say it later down on another comment, but I’ll mention it here, too: I don’t hear “cute” mostly from men. I hear it mostly from women. And what they mean is “too soft.”

        From a man I’ve once gotten, “That joke is too soft. It sounds like a girl wrote it.” That’s a horrible thing to say, but at least he didn’t call me “cute.” Like I’m a puppy trying to pull a blankie off my head. And he said it because a man had to say the line, and it didn’t ring masculine enough. And THAT is a fine note, not masculine enough. But “cute” is a fake compliment, and I have a difficult time sitting through it, or saying “thank you” after it.

        Best of luck, Sarah, with your script. I definitely want to read more of it, and I hope you get to sell it — at the very least – as a graphic novel. (In fact, email me, would you?)

  2. I’m certain Nora Ephron got “cute” until it was clear she could out-write all of them…with her eyes closed. “Cute” we can probably get passed. Just, dear god, don’t get called “pregnant.”

  3. I am trying to come up with a non-cheesy way to say this (who am I kidding? It’ll only come out ‘cute’), but you are and always have been someone I really admire.

    This post was great.

  4. Hey Pamie —

    Long time reader, first time commenter, been writing for TV for 12 years, so I’ll keep it short:

    Thank fucking GOD I’m not the only one.

    By the way, your blog is so *cute*!

    Adorably yours,
    -Mere

  5. oh jesus god yes. YES.

    Personally, I got called “cute” until I was like, “Fuck you with your cute, I’ll be so damn cute you will watch this and your eyes will water out of your head with your laughter and tears you bastards. Big blue eyes and curls my ass.” Quirky is another hellacious option.

    …though a friend called a script “adorabadass” and that made me really happy.

  6. Kenny

    I’ve had scripts called “cute.” Maybe it comes out differently when it’s said to a woman, but generally I think it’s used whenever something’s not bad, but the reader doesn’t particularly like it either. It’s always frustrating though because everybody knows it’s not a real compliment.

    • Kenny

      Actually, a better way of putting it would be: “Cute” is used to describe the work of a writer the speaker doesn’t take seriously. The reason the writer is not being taken seriously may vary, from sexism to simple professional condescension.

  7. pete275

    Take for example the well-known passage from Super cute script, girl:

    “I’ve got a well-received novel making the rounds in features, and a spec feature that’s also circulating, another spec script that’s optioned and securing attachment before going out for financing, and a number of television show pitches with different producers and studios that are lined up for the auction block of network pitching.”

    It would have been quite impossible to render this into Newspeak while keeping to the sense of the original. The nearest one could come to doing so would be to swallow the whole passage up in the phrase “hollywood bullshit talk”.

    <3

  8. reed

    How many women screenwriters have heard men say, “There’s no sexism in Hollywood. If you write a good script, it’ll find a home.”

    Hmm. Now who is assessing the script? Usually a man. You think “the male gaze” and male tastes AREN’T playing a role in their decisions?

    Anyone who thinks Hollywood is a meritocracy is naive or hoping the great lie continues.

  9. Krysia

    Hey Pam, I loved your post. I do have to tell you however, that I’m a guilty WOMAN. I’ve told male writers that I thought what they’d written was “cute”. I didn’t realize I did this until a couple years ago, when one head writer I was working with replied , “Cute? Yeah, I definitely don’t want it to be cute. “Cute” is the last way you want your sketch or a joke described.” Yes, he was a guy, yes I am a girl. And no, it wasn’t the first time I’d said it. But you got me thinking. Why use that word at all? This is what I think: It’s a gentler way to say “It was only okay. It didn’t bowl me over”. Now, when I feel the impulse to tell a writer something is cute, I check myself. I think, “What’s a better way to say this?” And I try to be more direct.
    I’m sure the word “cute” still slips out now and again, but I’m certainly not trying be sexist. Lazy, maybe! Non-confrontational perhaps. But definitely not sexist!

    • Hi, Krysia!

      I should’ve mentioned in the post that most of the time I hear “cute” I actually hear it from women. I guess when I was writing “Totes cute” and everything I wasn’t clear that it’s normally not coming out of a man’s mouth. When a man calls my writing cute, I definitely bristle, because yeah, that’s some head-patting. But for the most part I hear it from women, as they gather up what they really want to say when they pass. I know the pass is coming as soon as I hear “cute.”

      And oh, man, “cute” = “death” in sketch comedy and joke-writing.

  10. Gary Kline

    Congratulations for continuing to pursue those feature assignments.

    I’d concur with Kenny’s comment – “Cute” pretty much equates to “Not bad”.

    What’s also tough is that men and women are attracted to such different things in stories. It’s hard to please both. I’m not saying it can’t be done (“Brave” is a great example), but it can’t be easy.

  11. Mike

    Annie: “Cute? Baby ducks are cute. I HATE cute! I want to be exotic and mysterious!”

    LaLoosh: “You are. You’re exotic, and mysterious, and … cute … and … that’s why I’d better leave.”

  12. Rob

    Last year at the Austin Film Fest pitch competition finale, every time a woman stood up to pitch, I’d whisper to my friend “romantic comedy.” I was never wrong.

    I doubt the Coen Bros. ever hear “cute,” but I bet John Hughes heard it all the time, so I don’t think it’s specifically gendered except to the stories women tend to write. If 80% of the women who make up 25% of the writers write “cute” then that word will keep coming up. Or they’ll use “adorable” once they catch on that “cute” is making you cringe.

    My suggestion would be to write in more kersplosions.

    • ace

      Ouch. Rob, I know what you’re saying is true and it makes me wince. I’m a woman, and I write what I love: science fiction, thrillers, and action-comedies. And I have to admit it pains me to see SO MANY women writing romantic comedy specs (or family dramas), because it does, imo, perpetuate/pander to the stereotype that women are best suited to write “small movies about relationships.” I wrote an adventure spec that got a lot of heat and got me repped at a big agency, and I noticed that all the meetings my agents (both male) were getting me involved either romantic comedy or Disney tween comedy type OWAs. When I confronted my agents about this mismatch between my samples and the OWAs, they told me in very diplomatic language that I had to be realistic, that studios felt more comfortable hiring a guy to write “guy movies,” and that women basically do not EVER get hired for big summer action films. It was suggested to me that young cute hip women could best get noticed by writing an edgy rom com/sex comedy that will hit the BlackList. After a couple of years and just one sale (a romantic comedy…grrr), I have to admit despair set in and I kind of walked away from Hollywood. Does that mean I “didn’t really want” a career as a screenwriter? I guess that’s how it would be interpreted.

      • Rob

        I wrote an action thriller with a Latina lead, where two of the main supporting characters are a Pakistani journalist and an English mercenary. Oh, and they’re women too. Best damn action thriller H’wood will ever see! In short, I despair of ever even getting representation.

        Maybe if I described them as “cute.”

  13. Wait, so how much more does a person get paid writing for films than for TV?

    It’s weird that movies would be the holy grail for screenwriters, because it seems like TV writers get more name recognition. I can think of several famous writers for TV shows off the top of my head, but I can’t think of any famous movie screenwriters except for writer/directors.

    • I don’t think it’s entirely about money. It’s also about the art, and only recently once cable expanded television possibilities and more work was available in television (where you could create higher quality programming and have more creative control) did TV start beckoning the screenwriter, who used to look down upon television as the slums.

  14. Ellin

    You know, so often I read synopses or loglines of winning scripts in major competitions and just get depressed. Invariably the same old same old that I would have no interest in seeing even if they do ever get made. Drug deals gone wrong, rogue/heroic cops, man trying to prove innocence, technology threat/meltdown, bromance, spies, war, male protagonist, male protagonist, male protagonist…zzzzz

  15. OMGOMG YES. So, a friend linked to your blog and now I’m here and so excited bc I’m at the very very beginning of gearing up to try and break into TV/screen/playwriting while doing an MFA in creative nonfiction….and the #1 comment I get (mostly from people outside my genre but still) on basically anything that is not SuperGrim or Angry is “Oh, cute”. I’m working on a graphic novel about alcoholism and sexual assault that was apparently ADORABLE and I have just had it. When I was 6 and riding the school bus for the first time all the older boys called me Gizmo (“Because you’re so cute!” and it annoyed me even then because I could tell I was being dismissed.

    Seriously considering titling my thesis collection of essays with “THIS IS NOT CUTE”.

  16. “Did you see the series finale of ‘Entourage?'”

    “Ohmugod, so CUTE!”

    ….If anyone ever calls “You Take It From Here” cute, I’d call them out on it.

    What the hell is cute about Miranda July’s ideas? I’ll admit, my girlfriend and I text that ))(( symbol back and forth, but that is us being cute about something that is. Not. Cute. The Future was downright bleak, and while “cutely bleak” sums up Cat Power, it’s not applicable here.

    I’m pretty certain that Joss Whedon has been reviewed as cute before, but have you seen him? He’s freakin’ ADORABLE!

  17. Val

    Just curious… Are male and female writers paid approximately the same? Say you and a guy were working on the same show and had relatively the same experience. Would the pay be the same? I’m wondering if the condescension carries over to the monetary compensation.

    • pamie

      At the very base starting level, no. There are WGA minimums that aren’t gender biased, but then you start having something called a “quote,” which is what your agents/managers/lawyers negotiated as your pay rate for your last job, and that’s the starting point where you begin negotiations for your next job. Quotes differ from writer to writer, and the writer doesn’t get to negotiate with business affairs over salary and/or title. (You just get told what they came back with and you either take it, leave it, or have them continue with negotiations.)

      It’s the business people and the management people who go back and forth on what you’ll make. So at a certain point, yes, a man can start making more per episode or per script than a woman might be making, even on the same show with the same experience, because it’s often about the negotiating skills of the writer’s representation.

  18. I’ve thought a lot about this as a female writer, simply because when I got to networking events, it’s nearly all guys. My writing group is 70% male. When I go to AFF, it must be near that. I’m a minority as a woman who writes feature scripts.

    But I have no choice – I don’t watch much TV, I watch movies! Films are what I’m drawn to write, what I’m passionate about. Novels, maybe. Graphic novels, definitely soon. TV, no.

    My theory is that in many professions, women start off earning less than men because they don’t ask for more from the very beginning. They don’t hustle enough. And this industry is no different. And also, achieving a script sale means pitching, selling yourself and your ideas. And a lot of women seem to find that off-putting.

    I’ve seen very mediocre male writers get ahead while talented female writers hold themselves back because of not wanting to seem arrogant or pushy. Well we need to get pushy!

  19. For a second there I thought Dani had beaten me to the punch; I wrote to Marc Maron and recommended you as a guest for his podcast.

    You know, boys are different than girls, and vive le difference and all that, but sometimes it ain’t right.

    Ken

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