Many Oscars have graced the stage of this world: Oscar the Grouch (he lived in a trash can), Oscar Leroy (he likes to say jackass), Oscar Mayer (weiners) and, of course, the Oscar. The one whom the Academy Awards – the Oscars – are named after. Who was this man, if he ever existed? No one really knows. There are rumours, theories but no concrete evidence as to why each of the golden trophies given out during “Hollywood’s biggest night” are named Oscar. What we do know, is that this is one of the most coveted awards on the planet. Every year, this ceremony almost unanimously wraps up awards season, in a grand finale of what’s what in the film industry.
Yet, controversy has plagued the show, stealing the spotlight away from the artistry it’s meant to be about. To be sure, many worthy causes have come to light. Fighting against sexism or striving for diversity; it should go without saying that these are worth fighting for. I mean, really, it’s a no-brainer that these things shouldn’t be issues in 2018. At least I’d like to think. However, is it also possible that these issues are being skewed?
Before I go any further, let me say: yes, I am aware that I am a white man. Thus, I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman or a black man or anything else that I’m not. It can be hard to understand what other people go through when you haven’t experienced it yourself.
That said, there’ve been demands that more people of various ethnicities and genders must be nominated in the categories, as opposed to just white people, men, etc. Here’s where things get tricky. Now, let me be clear, purposefully ignoring or not acknowledging someone because of a “category” or a superficial difference is ridiculous. But whether or not that’s really happening is hard to say absolutely for sure.
Take the Best Director category. Five directors were nominated, only one of whom was a woman. Emma Stone introduced those nominated, by saying: “These four men and Greta Gerwig created their own masterpieces this year.”
There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. What I’d be interested in knowing is: who? What other female directors would she have liked nominated in that category? If so, why would those directors deserve the nomination over one of the males? Any director worth their salt wouldn’t want to be nominated because they’re a woman. They should want to be nominated for making an amazing film.
Obviously, this is very general speaking. It’s a lot of hypotheticals and the only way to be sure what deserves what is to see every film made last year. If a female director deserves it, then she should absolutely be nominated. But how these issues seem to be sometimes addressed, is like: “Why aren’t there more women? This is sexist and horrible.” It’s not always that simple. Unless, of course, there are women who absolutely should have been nominated (and were snubbed). I believe a more worthy conversation is “why aren’t more women directing movies?” In order for there to be awards nominations, people need to be creating things in the first place. If barriers are present for people, it’s largely up to those people to tear them down. More women need to be directing and creating outstanding films.
Again, let me reiterate that I am aware I am a white male. Generally speaking, certain experiences may be easier for me because of that. Privilege is a thing, I get that. More opportunities are (arguably) available to men over women. While I am a man, I’m also a gay man. I’ve faced my fair share of prejudice. Personally, I’d never want to be nominated for an award simply because I find (some) men attractive. Of course, I never want to be discriminated against for that, either.
My point is that it’s not as simple as, “nominate people for the sake of nominating them!” People need to get out there and create things. Good things. I’d love to see more diversity. When things get in the way of creating those things, that’s where the problem lies. The idea that someone is superior to another, because of sexuality or race or gender, whatever the reason may be, is stupid. It’s sad that as humans we still waste time on this; that we still have to waste time fighting for this.
Hopefully one day we won’t have to. If one day I’m nominated in a category for film with someone else, whoever they may be and they made a better movie, then kick my ass. If you’re a woman and you make a better movie than me, kick my ass. Till then, let’s all make the best we can. Whoever gets to take Oscar home may get lucky but as long as we continue to create, we’re all winners at the end of the day.
– Alan Holmes, Entertainment Co-Editor