It’s that time of year again. Production companies rub their hands together with glee as the increased revenue from Oscar nominations brings them yet more money to swim in. But this is not an ‘anti fat cat, massive budget company’ tirade. Personally, I enjoyed the majority of films nominated. Boyhood was an extremely delicate affair, taking years (12 I think?) to make, and successfully pull off in one the greatest success stories of recent cinema. Birdman was quirky in all the right ways. And The Theory Of Everything, while I haven’t seen so far, seems to be a winner on all fronts (except the disabled one..Check my blog about it from last week..) My problem isn’t with any of that. It’s something much more simple, yet gets pushed to the way side every single year.
I’m reminded of a ‘Cyanide and Happiness’ cartoon sketch I came across last year, in which a movie producer is talking to a new star and claims ‘YOU’LL BE A BIG MOVIE STAR, BABY! I SEE OSCARS AND TONYS IN YOUR FUTURE!’. The star signs with glee, physically excited by the concept of such a high prestige. Only, in the next frame, we’re introduced to ‘Super Bum Love 7’, in which the director calls ‘OKAY, OSCAR AND TONY, YOU’RE UP!‘ and our star is visually scared. This instantly made me think of Leonardo DiCaprio. Snubbed countless times for best actor, something on times I thought he truly deserved. Similarly with Stanley Kubrick – never winning an Oscar during his lifetime, but after he’d passed away, the Oscar board turned round and said ‘We made a mistake never giving him an Oscar.’ As film fans we see this as a travesty. But at least they’re being nominated! The biggest travesty is the countless FEMALE directors, cinematographers, writers, editors, production designers, effects designers, and musical scorers who NEVER receive recognition for their work.
“My response to reading the nominations”
Since the Oscars began, only 4 women have ever been nominated for Best Director. FOUR. And out of those 4, only Katheryn Bigelow has won for ‘The Hurt Locker’. DiCaprio and Kubrick may not have won when deserved, but what about the 1000’s of women every year who work just as hard, if not harder than any other male to direct, write, or create a film, who never get the recognition they deserve? Not only this, but what about the women of colour? Never in the 80+ years of the Oscars, has a black women been nominated for Best Director. I think Kaley Cuoco should direct a film, then tell me if everything that needs to be achieved in feminism has been done…
Upworthy posted a video to their Facebook account recently. It begins with Kaley, Mindy Kaling, and others asked ‘what is the most idiotic/asinine comment that people want you to engage to talk about?’ The answer: WHAT/WHO ARE YOU WEARING. The clips come in quick and fast, as we see several female celebrities on the Red Carpet asked the same question again and again. It’s as if women don’t have anything interesting to say?! Essentially, what this is, is undermining women further by reducing them to their fashion sense. ‘You’re only important if you have something to say about your dress’. In one of several televised interviews, Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey Jr. are interviewed together, and Johansson turns to Downey Jr and asks ‘Why are you asked the interesting, existential questions, and I get the rabbit food question’. It’s a fair point, and a constant battle in interviews and ‘carpeted’ events. At some point, someone will ask the female about some element of fashion. And why? Maybe I want to know how Tony Stark fit into his costume during filming, or how much weight Tom Hanks has put on or lost for his latest films. But no. Instead, we’re in awe of them, and ask them about life. Do women not have lives outside of their wardrobes?
As a first year Media Production student – whose primary career option (besides teaching) after degree is to be a team member of any production team, you’d assume due to the Oscars and recognition of Female ‘production people’ that my degree is mainly, if not ONLY men (being that this isn’t an acting degree). Not so. I’d hazard a guess that there may be more females than males. If not, then it HAS to be roughly 50-50, give or take 1-2%. Yet, I doubt any will ever get the acclaim they deserve, no matter how amazing their contribution. Some on my degree have an amazing work ethic and an incredible creative spirit. But I guess that means f*ck all if you’re not a man (or in Bigelow’s case, making a phallocentric film..). I’m not saying all this because I feel that men don’t deserve Oscars, or that we need a ‘female only’ Oscar, I’m saying this because we need to acknowledge the hard work that both genders put into creating films. The first Matrix film was phenomenal in terms of writing, and visual effects, but neither Lana nor Andy received even a nomination. They won the Saturn Award for Best Director, but in the scheme of things, without Googling, does anybody really know what that is? Wayne’s World, possible THEE best 90s film (Schwing!) was directed by Penelope Spheeris, and received no award nominations. It received Best Film from NME. Only this year, Selma, the Martin Luther King‘s campaign biopic was snubbed for Best Director. Surprise surprise, the Director was Ava DuVernay, (and featured a cast of excellent Black actors?) and the film was critically acclaimed by critics, but there’s no sign of it at the Oscars. I wonder why? As usual, the Best Director winner of 2015 is a middle aged, white, male.
Personally, I’d have no issue with this if females were actually acknowledged, and offered the chance for their work to be seen. It’s just not really a competition at this stage. If films like Selma, and Gone Girl (the books original writer, Gillian Flynn adapted the novel into the screenplay) were recognised for their female counterparts, the Oscars would actually be INTERESTING.
So the next time DiCaprio, or some equally deserving male is snubbed for Best Actor, Director, or any other awards, just think of the 100s of other women who were snubbed for the exact same award. At least they got to the ceremony, and received the attention of the nomination.
Or, as Spike Lee said to Ava DuVernay; Fuck ‘Em.