Why Are the #OscarsStillMostlyWhiteAndMale?
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April Reign, founder of the hashtag campaign #OscarsSoWhite, knew by 8:35 a.m. Eastern time today that she was going to have a busy day.
Inclusion advocates worried that this year’s Academy Award precursors were grim omens for the big show. The Golden Globes ignored a slew of female directors to nominate only men; the BAFTA Film Awards nominated an all-white slate of actors.
The New York Times’s Carpetbagger column called out the tension early.
“And though the academy… has taken great pains to diversify itself since the years of #OscarsSoWhite, this past week suggests that other awards bodies still have a lot of soul-searching to do, and that this issue may require a total shift in what’s considered weighty and worthy.”
Turns out, that soul searching continues. The most inclusive part of the awards were the nomination announcers, Insecure star Issa Rae and Star Trek actor Jon Cho.
One lone actor of color—Harriet star Cynthia Erivo—was nominated for best actress. The Farewell‘s Awkwafina, Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers, and Just Mercy‘s Jamie Foxx, were among the expected nods which went un-nodded.
And female directors were snubbed by the Academy again this year. The five nominees are Bong Joon Ho (Parasite, the first Korean movie to ever be nominated for Best Picture), Sam Mendes (1917), Todd Phillips (Joker), Martin Scorsese (The Irishman) and Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood).
“Congratulations to those men,” Issa Rae joked.
But Reign was unmoved and unsurprised. “Hello! Busy day ahead & you want to discuss #OscarsSoWhite, now 5 yrs strong. Happy to help!” Reign tweeted, with a link for journalists on deadline.
While the erasure of talent of color was egregious, the director category was particularly disappointing, in part because 2019 had been such a breakthrough year.
The Los Angeles Times notes the Oscar-level films that could have been considered beside Greta Gerwig’s resplendent Little Women: Lulu Wang’s The Farewell, Marielle Heller’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Lorene Scafaria’s Hustlers, Kasi Lemmons’s Harriet, Mati Diop’s Atlantics, Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Chinonye Chukwu’s Clemency, Alma Har’el’s Honey Boy, Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart, Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir, and Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale.
“Those 11 films netted a total of three nominations: Harriet for actress in a leading role, Cynthia Erivo, and original song, Stand Up; and Beautiful Day’s Tom Hanks for supporting actor.” (Little Women did get six total nominations, including one for Greta Gerwig for best adapted screenplay.)
Only five women in history have ever been nominated for Best Director—yet changing the ratio hasn’t seemed to help.
But a look behind the scenes suggests that perhaps it’s the Oscars who should be snubbed.
Twelve women directed some of the top-grossing films in 2019, representing 10.6% of all directors, up from 4.5% in 2018, according to a new study from USC Annenberg’s Inclusion Initiative. You can thank Universal Pictures in large measure, which distributed five films helmed by women last year—including Melina Matsoukas’s Queen and Slim. Universal also became the first major studio in 2019 to support the “4% Challenge” and commit to work with at least one female director on a feature film over the next 18 months.
Well done, Universal.
I’ll give Reign the last word, since I’m pretty sure she had this statement ready to go.
“In the past, the pushback against #OscarsSoWhite was, ‘There just weren’t enough performances to nominate.’ Well, that’s not the case this year,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. “There was a wealth of talent—and not just of black performers but of various marginalized communities—that was overlooked. And it’s really unfortunate. I’m interested in what Hollywood and the Academy are going to do to make the entertainment industry reflect those that support it.”
Serena Williams wins Williams, who’s currently No. 10-ranked, won her first singles tournament since her daughter was born. Williams bested Jessica Pegula, 6-3, 6-4, at the ASB Classic on Sunday in Auckland, New Zealand. “Finally,” she seemed to say to herself after shaking Pegula’s hand at the net. Her last singles win was at the 2017 Australian Open when she was two months pregnant. In a triumphant photo, Williams holds her trophy in one hand, and her daughter on the other hip.
New York Times
Senator Cory Booker ends his campaign The emailed announcement was vintage Booker. "Friend, it’s with a full heart that I share this news—I’ve made the decision to suspend my campaign for president," he wrote. There was no more path to victory, he said. It’s worth noting that there will be no candidate of color in the upcoming Democratic debate. "The way this is shaping up, especially with the rules of the DNC, it is preferencing millionaires and billionaires and a lot of other things that don't ever translate into viability in Iowa," he said recently on MSNBC.
Families in the UK are sending relatives with dementia to Thailand for care It’s the logical intersection of untenable long-term care costs and the growing medical tourism industry. Some of the facilities are British-run, some are Thai-run, and some are Swiss-run, but all seem to be providing some level of comfort at a terrible time in people’s lives. "The [Thai] government and private investors are very active in cultivating this as part of their economic development,” one expert notes. For the same price as inadequate care, patients are getting 1:1 attention in world-class facilities. “I can well understand people choosing this option, given the state of anxiety about care in the UK,” says a U.K. care expert.
McDonald’s and Black America: (Not exactly) a love story Marcia Chatelain, a history professor at Georgetown University, has written a book that explains how McDonald’s, now vilified for its role in the obesity epidemic, became a staple in the lives of Black Americans. Her new book, Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America, tells the story of how Civil Rights era upheavals—including stores damaged in riots after Martin Luther King’s murder—helped pave the way for Black entrepreneurs to turn stores in undesirable neighborhoods into profitable enterprises. “The period of time I cover in the book is where black people across ideological, political, and economic spectrums are still navigating their role as consumers,” Chatelain tells Vox. Back then, McDonald’s was the first assembly-line food startup, and it played an important role for Black consumers. “It’s also for people who had very hostile experience of restaurants or very limited experience of restaurants.”
Job-hunting after a “certain age” Age bias is everywhere, so plan for it says Dan Lyons, the author of Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble. He cites some semi-controversial advice from career expert Marc Cendella—just make everything before the year 2000 disappear from your LinkedIn. It’s not about being dishonest, it’s about gaming a gatekeeper system that will shunt your resume into the trash if they think your passion and experience isn’t in the here and now. And once you get in the door? Show you work well with others. “Show them you’re flexible and adaptable. You can collaborate. You can take direction and feedback from younger people.”
Understanding Attica The African American Intellectual Society has put together an extensive online “roundtable” discussion on Heather Ann Thompson’s book Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy. They tapped an array of historians and other experts to put the material into a variety of contexts, from writing trauma in historical works to exploring how the uprising fits into the broader politics of today. It’s all fascinating material, and the roundtable itself is a model for showcasing expertise and history online.
“With my first film, there was a bidding war with people who hadn’t even read the script—studios—just because they heard I was the female Spike Lee. But they weren’t looking at the work. They didn’t believe that we had anything of merit for ourselves. It’s just that we were the flavor, that’s it. As an African-American woman who speaks up and fights against things that are racist or misogynistic, I felt a very big backlash. If I had a penny for every time I was blacklisted and somebody told me, ‘You will never work again,’ I’d be super, super wealthy.”
—Film director Darnell Martin, in an interview with the New York Times on being part of the first wave of promising Black filmmakers, in the 1990s.