Will Hollywood Forget #MeToo As Quickly As #OscarsSoWhite?
Remember #OscarsSoWhite? Watching Sunday night’s Golden Globes, you might conclude that Hollywood does not.
The hashtag was created in January 2015 by blogger and activist April Reign. Three years ago, Reign called for a boycott of the Academy Awards due to the fact that people of color were largely shut out of the nominations for major award categories (the sole exceptions: Selma‘s nod in the best picture category and Alexander Iñarritu’s nomination for best director).
The phrase went viral that year—and the year after that, when exclusively white actors were nominated for awards—prompting everyone from Steven Spielberg to Donald Trump to weigh in on the issue. Halle Berry called it “heartbreaking.” Matt Damon called it “shameful and embarrassing.”
This year, however, there was far less mainstream talk on social media about the lack of diversity among the 2018 Golden Globe awardees.
Nine people of color were nominated for the 14 major award categories, and only two won: Aziz Ansari and Sterling K. Brown took home best TV actor awards (for a musical or comedy and drama, respectively). Oprah Winfrey, who received the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award, was the only woman of color honored this year.
The wins were bittersweet for another reason: They were firsts. Winfrey was the first black woman, Ansari was the first Asian American, and Brown was the first African American to win awards in each of their categories. A depressing milestone, as the Golden Globes have been around for 75 years (the DeMille award has been around for 66 years).
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Despite the paucity of people of color among nominees, the conversation about racial diversity in Hollywood was sidelined by the #MeToo movement—and now Time’s Up campaign—against sexual abuse in Hollywood. To show solidarity, many actors wore black and a legal fund associated with Time’s Up raised $15 million.
To be fair, the movement has made a conscious effort to be intersectional. After all, many behind it are women of color, including actresses Eva Longoria and America Ferrera, producer Shonda Rhimes, and lawyers Tina Tchen and Nina Shaw. A number of Golden Globes guests brought activists—many of whom are or work on behalf of minority women—as dates, making sure to share the spotlight.
A handful of non-white actors did mention diversity in their speeches (Ansari, Brown, and Winfrey among them), but the issue seemed to have lost the luster it had in 2016. The vast majority of speakers—including host Seth Meyers—ignored race entirely.
The focus on sexual harassment and sexism in Hollywood is understandable given the wave of accusations against powerful men in the movie industry. Yet the speed with which Lalaland has swept its diversity issues under the rug doesn’t bode well for the future of the #MeToo movement.
After the uproar two years ago, a black woman, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, took over leadership of the Academy and announced that 41% of the new invitees would be people of color. It seemed like the industry was on the brink of a turning point, but it has yet to play out that way: Isaacs stepped down last summer and it’s unclear what will happen to her goals of doubling the diversity within the Oscars committee by 2020.
While one campaign doesn’t necessarily foretell the fate of the other, it is worth keeping mind how big of a role momentum plays. And if there’s any major action item here, it’s this: Keep making noise.