Gender roles in film direction, analyzed with R

August 22, 2017
By

(This article was first published on Revolutions, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

What do women do in films? If you analyze the stage directions in film scripts — as Julia Silge, Russell Goldenberg and Amber Thomas have done for this visual essay for ThePudding — it seems that women (but not men) are written to snuggle, giggle and squeal, while men (but not women) shoot, gallop and strap things to other things.  

Screen-tropes

This is all based on an analysis of almost 2,000 film scripts mostly from 1990 and after. The words come from pairs of words beginning with "he" and "she" in the stage directions (but not the dialogue) in the screenplays — directions like "she snuggles up to him, strokes his back" and "he straps on a holster under his sealskin cloak". The essay also includes an analysis of words by the writer and character's gender, and includes lots of lovely interactive elements (including the ability to see examples of the stage directions).

The analysis, including the chart above, was was created using the R language, and the R code is available on GitHub. The screenplay analysis makes use on the tidytext package, which simplifies the process of handling the text-based data (the screenplays), extracting the stage directions, and tabulating the word pairs.

You can find the complete essay linked below, and it's well worth checking out to experience the interactive elements.

ThePudding: She Giggles, He Gallops

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