Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Study of 2,000 film scripts reveals men are animals, women love snuggling

Photo: Central Press/Getty Images
Photo: Central Press/Getty Images

Last year, a study by The Pudding used data to confirm what anybody with a brain already suspected: In an industry where 85 percent of working screenwriters are men, male characters speak a whole lot more than female ones. Now, the site has approached a similar data set with more specific goals in mind. Instead of looking at dialogue, they set their sights on screen directions to see what words screenwriters use to describe the actions of both women and men.

Using 2,000 different scripts, the site’s researchers “broke down every screen direction mapped to the pronouns ‘he’ and ‘she.’” What they discovered is that, in the minds of the industry’s (primarily male) screenwriters, women are much more likely to “snuggle,” “giggle,” “squeal,” or “sob” as men “gallop,” “howl,” “strap,” “shoot,” and “kill.”

By this data, men see themselves as animals. Also by this data, men see women as Malibu Stacy dolls. A wider look at the 800 most commonly used pronoun pairs in screen direction show men being much more likely to act, and women much more likely to emote.


The Pudding also organizes its data to show the areas where male and female writers overlap and differentiate. The data is inevitably compromised, however, by the imbalance that exists between male and female writers.

“Should Hollywood reach gender parity, we’d expect fewer women characters to respond, kiss, and cry,” the piece reads. “The increase in female writers would also mean women would be more likely to spy, find things, and, perhaps most remarkably, write on-screen.”

After all the snuggling, giggling, and squealing, of course.

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.

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