The practice is called wigging: stuntmen don wigs and women’s clothing to resemble female actors while filming risky action scenes.

Camera angles, special effects and editing preserve the illusion that it is a pulchritudinous star leaping off a building or driving through a window rather than a man in drag.

Audiences may not know or care but stuntwomen do because it means less work for them.

One is now mounting what is believed to be the first legal challenge to wigging. Deven MacNair, a Los Angeles-based stunt performer, is planning to sue a production company and Hollywood’s acting union over a male colleague performing a stunt in drag instead of giving the job to a stuntwoman.

“The practice is so common,” she told the Guardian on Wednesday. “It’s historical sexism – this is how it’s been done since the beginning of time.”

The answer is to insist that the act of donning a wig makes one a woman. For in this modern age there is no other definition is there, just the claim?

30 thoughts on “Sigh”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    I can’t think why film directors aren’t hiring people who only cost 77% of the male equivalent if they also look better in a wig.

    However I am more concerned about other things. Like who plays Julia Robert’s backside? I have a sneaking suspicion that in the past few decades this has been incredibly gender biased with most of the stunt ar$es being hired from one gender alone.

    I demand equality. I demand the right to be Julia Robert’s big fat hairy ar$e. It is only fair.

  2. Why stop there? Surely a bird could do diminutive Tom Cruise stunts better because, you know, closer to actual size.

  3. My uninformed guess would be that Hollywood wants to protect women from injury, rather than exclude them from jobs.
    That male instinct, “That job’s too dangerous for a woman”.
    The Victorian legislation that banned women from coal mines? Blatant sexism, must be, no other explanation.

  4. ‘planning to sue a production company and Hollywood’s acting union over a male colleague performing a stunt in drag instead of giving the job to a stuntwoman.’

    Where would she get a lawyer to take the case? Oh . . . wait . . . never mind.

    I personally am offended by the exclusion of aliens. I insist on stuntbeing.

    So Hollywood, the land of pretend, is going to insist on reality? Can a non-doctor play a doctor? Can Julia Roberts play an intelligent woman?

  5. I wonder if we will have “Islamic temporary marriage”-style transgenderism in the future? Sort of “I hereby do certify that I self identify as a woman” for the duration of the shoot, before reverting at the end of the contract.

    Though I think there is already a name for that: method acting 🙂

  6. Slightly-built adult stunt performers have been doubling for children since the dawn of cinema.
    Ir’s long past time that 10 year-olds were given the chance to throw themselves, engulfed in flames, off of a 12 storey building.

  7. RlJ: Surely a bird could do diminutive Tom Cruise stunts better because, you know, closer to actual size.

    Good thought: a stunted stunt woman.

  8. Incidentally, female rubber suit creatures are usually “played” by men as well, e.g. Dusk till Dawn. Another opportunity for a law suit there, I think.

  9. Philip Scott Thomas

    In 1954, a less enlightened age, Mary Martin won a Tony for her Broadway role as Peter Pan, despite being neither a boy nor lost. Should she now be stripped of that award?

  10. So Much For Subtlety

    Gamecock – “Can Julia Roberts play an intelligent woman?”

    Denise Richards played a nuclear physicist in The World Is Not Enough

    Truly there is no limit to the magic of Hollywood.

    (Actually, Notting Hill did a mildly good job of showing Ms Roberts’ character to be intelligent.)

  11. The practice is called whinging: stuntmen don wigs and middle-class women whine in the media as if it fucking matters

  12. Under anti-discrimination laws it should be illegal to hire a less competent stuntwoman in preference to a stuntmanpurely on grounds of gender.
    “Oh, but anti-discrimnation laws don’t apply to discrimination against white men”
    Yes it *is* called “sexism” to demand that you give work to stuntwomen in preference to stuntmen who so the job better.

  13. I think the stuntwomen have a point. There is way too much acting going on in films and how is that not a form of fakery. Women should always be portrayed by women and men by men. Policemen should only be portrayed by real cops. Cowboys should only be portrayed by real cowboys and their ponies only by genuine rodeo stock. And the stock should be true to history – i.e., no more Herefords on western cattle drives. Not sure about aliens in science fiction, but perhaps that genre should be banned until some real aliens actually show up. An agency should be establish to monitor and enforce these rules.

    I’ve always been impressed by the Guardian’s ability to identify and report on pressing concerns that show what an unjust world we live in but which would otherwise go unnoticed save for their constant diligence.

  14. @ BiG

    Yeah, Uma couldn’t even negotiate a couple of bends in the road without crashing. Who says a split-arse stuntperson could have done any better?

  15. Wait a minute. This woman is complaining about not being given the chance to perform a driving stunt on a film that she had been hired to perform wrestling stunts on? And where did the journalist speak to her?

    MacNair spoke during a break in a three-day stunt driving course which cost $2,800


  16. Pulchritudinous: “pul-kruh-TOO-di-nuhs.” And one last note about this 15-letter, 5-syllable beast (which may win the award for least-beautiful word meaning “beautiful”): It’s only used to describe people

  17. @Tony Q – I smiled to see you posting after an exploration of “split-arse”. It must have been meant.

    @Pcar – I’m not happy with your pronunciation guide there. My OED gives [pʌlkrɪˈtjuːdɪnəs] which to borrow your method gives the second syllable as “krih” and the third as “tew” to rhyme with few. Still a bit of a mouthful, of course, but that’s what the Romans did for us!

  18. @TMB
    I think Pcar may be using a US pronunciation guide. USians struggle to pronounce ‘ew’ correctly, see ‘Noo York’ etc etc.

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