Chalk this up to very cool news. When breakout Netflix hit Jessica Jones returns for our binging enjoyment in 2018, its going to contain a real feminist perspective, at least from behind the camera. Over the weekend, Variety and JJ show runner Melissa Rosenberg broke the news that all thirteen season two episodes will be directed by women. This marks the first time a Marvel Studios television property will fall solely under the stewardship of female directors.
This is a pretty rad move and one that makes a whole lot of sense for a number of reasons. For starters, the first season of Jessica Jones tells the story of a survivor. At her core, Jones is a woman that has had to battle back from the mental and sexual abuse and the hands of Kilgrave. The show dives deep into the PTSD Krysten Ritter’s titular character suffers, and no small part of show’s appeal and critical acclaim stems from Ritter’s performance and the way the show puts these issues front and center. While I don’t want to suggest that sexual abuse is a problem that only women face, the fact remains that according to the latest statistics from the US Department of Justice, four out of five women have face some for of sexual harassment, stalking, abuse or rape. Rosenberg, Marvel and Netflix are giving women a unique opportunity to have their voices heard and to tell the story from the perspective of the persons most likely to suffer from this form of abuse.
Allowing women to take the sole controls from behind the camera also addresses the topic of allowing for diversity in pop culture and entertainment. Yes, I know that every time some sort of take on the phrase “diversity in Hollywood” comes up a certain segment of the population-oh, okay let’s just call it for what it is and say a fair number of straight white dudes-work themselves into a lather and wear out their fingertips hammering on their keyboards and decrying “this is just another form of discrimination!” Like bearded, basement dwelling caricatures of Veruca Salt, these people aren’t satisfied having 90% of pop culture and entertainment catering to their every need, they want it all and they want it now. At this moment, if you’re feeling good about the world, and believe it isn’t a completely shitty place that drags everything pure, beautiful and good down in to the mud then head over to the reaction on Reddit. I’m not going to link to it her because I’m not a sadist and I’m not here to ruin anyone’s day. Just know that it is a cesspool of the kind of awful on par with watching the end of Old Yeller and A Human Centipede 2 on a continuous loop for hundreds of years.
Allowing for diverse voices in filmmaking and storytelling remains crucial because it offers a chance persons of color, women, the LGBT community and so many more to have their voices heard. It gives persons like myself a change to shit up, listen, and hopefully learn from experiences that are foreign from my own. It’s no secret that we’re living in a time of great division. The demographics of our country have begun their inevitable shift, and that’s scared the hell out of a lot of people that have held power forever and refuse to no so much let it go, but to let others have their fair share as well. Art and entertainment allow for a medium that can foster discussion and bring people of all backgrounds together, but in order to move forward, we need to bring more and different voices to the forefront.
In her comments to Variety, Ms. Rosenberg dropped a pretty fascinating nugget on what goes into her decision making process when considering new hires: “When I interview a writer, I’m less interested in what you’ve been doing professionally than I am in where you’re from, what your parents do, what’s your life experience, what are you bringing to the table personally? I don’t want a bunch of people who look and sound [like me] and have the experiences I have.”
That feels like a critical and evolved way at looking at creating any form of art. Repetition and sameness is the bane of art, and a surefire way to have your show ignored in 2016. By paving the way for new voices, Rosenberg and Netflix are ensuring that one way or another, the second season of Jessica Jones will stand out and be impossible to ignore upon return in 2018.