I Skipped the Oscars and Patricia Arquette was WRONG.
(I should state that these opinions are my own. They are not a reflection of anyone that I know who works in Hollywood. Wouldn’t want any of you to get flack for my opinions.)
I didn’t watch the Oscars this year. And I’m happy I didn’t. I did catch John Legend and Common’s performance. And I did see Lady Gaga and Julie Andrews.
But it’s hard to watch a show you just can’t really support anymore.
In recent years, I stopped watching fashion coverage. While I liked seeing what people wore- I do love fashion. The coverage was ridiculous- the 365 degree cameras, the mani cams, the inane discussion about what someone’s wearing rather than their thoughts on the movies nominated. (While I don’t like to speak ill of the dead, Joan Rivers’s influence on fashion coverage was not a positive influence. It’s become far too mean, and certainly unfavorable to anyone who doesn’t fit a specific body shape- they’re far too critical towards older women and heavier women.)
When I was a teenager, sure, they talked about fashion. But they spent more time asking about the actor’s performances if they were nominated or in a film that was nominated. Or their thoughts on nominees if they weren’t.
I cringed when nobody knew how to pronounce Quvenzhané Wallis’s name when she was nominated for Beasts of the Southern Wild (and apparently they cracked a joke about her in this years’ broadcast?). (Kwah-VEN-juh-nay) I admit, I stumble on Chiwetel Ejiofor’s name – but you can bet that if I was vlogging about him or interviewing him, I would practice it until I had it down pat. Because that’s part of covering entertainment, isn’t it? (My brain puts the w in Chiwetel’s name in a different syllable, for those wondering)
And those are just my gripes about Oscars coverage. It gets more and more obvious that the Academy is largely older, white men. Even as Hollywood strives for diversity, the Academy stays the same. White white white.
How is it that American Sniper could get six Oscar Nominations, but Selma be only nominated for two- Best Picture and Best Song? How is it that a film could be nominated for best picture, but the director not be nominated?
I’ve been reading the acceptance speeches, and I love that Reese Witherspoon used her time in the spotlight to highlight the inane questions women are asked (both on red carpets, and in interviews in general). That Alejandro González Iñárritu mentioned immigrants in his acceptance speech. How powerful John Legend and Common’s performance and acceptance speeches were. Please note that I’m not including Patricia Arquette in this. Because as I re-read her speech, I was struck by something and I don’t want to lose the general flow here.
I like that today, everyone’s wondering why John Travolta was so creepy last night- giving Scarlett Johansson what looked like an unwanted kiss, and seemingly unable to stop touching Idina Menzel’s face no matter how uncomfortable her smile was. That everyone’s calling out Sean Penn’s green card joke as being tasteless and racist – it doesn’t matter that they’re friends, it wasn’t the right venue. (Also, Sean Penn is pretty much just a gross human being.) Without context, it’s horribly racist and demoralizing to Hispanic person who wants to break into the industry watching the awards.
I’m just not happy with the state of the Oscars. I don’t want to see token nominations for the sake of diversity- but I’d like to see more of a reflection of what’s out there. I’d like for the Academy to be a little more reflective of the world at large, and not as imbalanced as Hollywood is- if only because then more people might see the Academy Awards as more than just a bunch of white rich people giving each other glitzy high fives.
Now, Patricia Arquette. I’m sure she meant well, asking for help in ending the pay gap. And honestly, if she’d just left out the part about gays and people of color doing their part to help women… it would have been a great speech (Edit: I wasn’t entirely clear here, and that’s my fault. Arquette’s comments regarding minorities supporting the cause were made in the press room backstage after her win, not during her on stage speech). The pay gap is a major issue for women across the board, especially in Hollywood. But a bigger issue for the feminist movement is white women overlooking the fact that they themselves tend to ignore the issues of women in minority groups- as well as minorities overall.
And Arquette did just that. She said that these groups, who are often paid less than white women (and in some cases have a harder time getting employment, period) should stand up for women.
The truth of it, is that minorities have always been there to back other marginalized groups. There are plenty of amazing feminists who are women of color- but you usually only hear the white ones. White feminists who regularly dismiss the issues of women of color. Who dismiss transgender women.
These people fight because they have everything to lose. I can’t say the same for most white women. And certainly, white men are the least likely category to support feminist causes- because they know that they’ll lose their comfortable privilege.
You want to start a movement? Call for women to band together. Call for people to band together. But don’t dare suggest that minorities need to drop their own issues to help you make more money than you already are. Than they are.
Thoughts? I’m sure someone probably disagrees with me about Patricia Arquette. But I’d love to hear your opinion (so long as it’s civil).
Tagged with: academy awards, feminism, imbalance of power, patricia arquette, reese witherspoon, representation matters, wage inequality, white feminism