Few feminist expectations at this year’s Oscars

Feb. 12, 2019, 12:50 a.m.

Last year’s Oscars were memorable for many reasons: the Academy’s recovery from the 2017 wrong-best-picture announcement fiasco, Jordan Peele’s historic win, the domination of the cast of “The Greatest Showman” onstage and then the devastation many diehard fans felt when the song lost in its category. But the show’s most important memorable moments came from the subtle hints of the #MeToo movement’s impacts on the entertainment industry, from the notable ‘Time’s Up’ speech to Emma Stone’s abrupt denunciation of the director’s category. Now, one year later, despite a few marches and online campaigns, not much has changed in our society, so will the Oscars continue this trend when the 91st Academy Awards airs next week?

Last year’s Academy Awards built up a lot of momentum for the inclusion of minority voices in the entertainment industry. This year’s nominations have made their marks already, with the success of “Black Panther” causing celebration already, but women’s perspectives are still lacking in the nominations. Last year Greta Gerwig was notably the only female director nominated for Best Director. This year there is not a single female nomination in that heavily male-dominated field, and only one female writer is included among both screenwriting categories.

Discouragingly, this trend isn’t anything new. Just as movements for women’s inclusion and fair treatment have emerged and then resurfaced throughout history, the push for larger inclusion among the Academy as well as other elite groups has bobbed up yet again. I just wonder, why do we stop caring in between awards shows? Such is the cycle of media; one trend pops up, and then another is forgotten. While women outside the entertainment spheres are surely making their mark, such as the new ladies of Congress last week at the State of the Union, the entertainment industry expertly knows how to sway public attention away from its moral failings.

In one example from one of this year’s best films, “Bohemian Rhapsody” director Bryan Singer was dismissed by the film’s producers, star Rami Malek and the Academy after he faced allegations of statutory rape. While Singer had already been fired from the film a month before production ended (long before Oscar nominations were announced), Rami Malek and the film’s producers have gone on to state that they were unaware of these allegations to protect their own chances for an Academy Award.

Hollywood knows how to keep undesirable people hushed and reframe scandals when it’s convenient. Perhaps the biggest scandal of this year’s Academy Awards has already happened– comedian Kevin Hart refused to own up to homophobic tweets, so he was ousted as host. As a result, the Academy doesn’t have a host at all. This could have been an opportunity to introduce a host who would steer the conversation at the Oscars into a more progressive light for women and other minority groups. Instead, we as viewers are left without any idea of what direction this year’s show may go.

While this year’s Oscars may not have as many women nominated in elite positions, we’ll have to wait and see how the show decides to treat this issue. And without a host, it is even harder to predict how this year’s Oscars will treat the third wave of feminism or the stagnant diversity in the nominations.

So, in the meantime, we just cheer on our favorites and see what time will tell.


Contact Catie Brown at catie97 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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