Greta Gerwig, ‘Little Women,’ and an enormous Oscars snub

January 14, 2020, 1:06 PM UTC
US actress and director Greta Gerwig arrives for the 77th annual Golden Globe Awards on January 5, 2020, at The Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP) (Photo by VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)
VALERIE MACON—AFP via Getty Images

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! The Megxit drama continues, sources say Bernie Sanders told Elizabeth Warren a woman couldn’t win (but he denies it), and #OscarsSoMale—again. Have a terrific Tuesday.


– Misdirection. Nominations for the 92nd annual Academy Awards were out yesterday, and if you were hoping for a woman to finally receive a director nod: better luck next year. Again, the category had only male honorees. Greta Gerwig stands out as the most prominent snub, considering her take on Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women was nominated for six awards, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. Critics of the all-male line-up also faulted the Academy for overlooking other directors, like Lulu Wang of The Farewell, Lorene Scafaria of Hustlers, Melina Matsoukas of Queen & Slim, and Marielle Heller of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.

It’s worth pointing out that the Academy ended up with this outcome while consciously trying to up its diversity. Its goal is to double its female and minority membership, but four years into the effort, it remains 68% male and 84% white. Insecure creator and star Issa Rae, who presented the nominations, captured all of our exasperation, when, after announcing the best director list, she quipped: “Congratulations to those men.”

Little Women star Florence Pugh, who was nominated for Best Supporting Actress, was more direct, calling Gerwig’s snub, “incredibly upsetting.”

“She’s literally made a film about this,” Pugh told Entertainment Weekly. “She made a film about women working and their relationship with money and their relationship with working in a man’s world. That’s literally what Little Women is about, so [this] only underlines how important it is—because it’s happening.”

Taking all this into account, it’s worth revisiting a Vanity Fair interview with Gerwig from Saturday. “I still think we very much have a hierarchy of stories,” she told the magazine. “I think that the top of the hierarchy is male violence—man on man, man on woman, etc. I think if you look at the books and films and stories that we consider to be ‘important,’ that is a common theme, either explicitly or implicitly.” Nevertheless, she said, “I believe that writing about something makes it important. I think Louisa May Alcott, whether she knew it or not, made the ordinary lives of girls and women extraordinary by turning her pen to them.”

And in a new interview with The New York Times yesterday, Gerwig addressed the Academy overlooking female directors head-on. She said the sheer number of female directors is inching upward, and ultimately, that will make the difference. “[I]n terms of it all moving in the right direction,” she said, “that’s all we can do: continue to make the work, make the work, make the work.”

Claire Zillman

Today’s Broadsheet was produced by Emma Hinchliffe


- Can a woman win? Sources told CNN that in 2018, Sen. Bernie Sanders allegedly told Sen. Elizabeth Warren as she prepared to run that he didn't believe a woman could win the race for president. Sanders strongly denied the story, and says it is "ludicrous" that he would make such a comment. Warren's campaign then released a statement that said the fate of a female candidate had come up in their conversation. "I thought a woman could win; he disagreed,” Warren said. The two will likely face questions about the alleged confrontation on the Des Moines debate stage tonight. CNN

- Side-by-side. Queen Elizabeth II issued a statement yesterday agreeing on a "period of transition" for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. But another royal story drew attention, too. This BuzzFeed piece shows side-by-side examples of how the British tabloid press has written about Meghan in comparison to Kate Middleton; one example shows how the same tabloid that cooed over Middleton's experimentation with avocados to ease her morning sickness criticized Markle for eating the same fruit since it's been "linked to human rights abuses."

- Self-defense. How far can abused women go to protect themselves? The New Yorker examines the case of Brittany Smith, charged with murder after killing a man who raped her. Self-defense from rapists or abusers is a "valid legal defense," the piece says, but women still face murder charges. The New Yorker

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Abby Huntsman will leave The View to help run her father Jon Huntsman Jr.'s campaign for governor of Utah. The Guardian Media Group named Annette Thomas as chief executive. Mastercard promoted Raj Seshadri to president of data and services and Linda Kirkpatrick to Seshadri's former role of president, U.S. issuers. Canadian pension plan OMERS named Shelagh Paul VP, global communications. 


- Airport security? Taking a flight to Saipan anytime soon? Look out for some unorthodox airport screening measures. One airline, Hong Kong Express Airways, asked women to take pregnancy tests before they boarded planes. The U.S. island in the Pacific has stirred concerns about citizens of other countries visiting expressly for the purpose of giving birth there, which grants their baby U.S. citizenship. It's not illegal to do that, but immigration authorities are allowed to deny visitors who lie about their reason for traveling or who can't prove they have the money for a "medical procedure" like giving birth at their destination. One Japanese woman who was heading to Saipan to visit her parents and was asked to take a pregnancy test said the experience was "humiliating and frustrating." Wall Street Journal

- Retirement report. Trends in Japan's workforce and population demographics are combining to leave up to 50% of Japanese women in poverty in their old age. While more women are working than ever, many are predicted to run out of money 20 years before they die. Bloomberg

- Fly me to the moon. Yusaku Maezawa is set to be the first private citizen to go to space with SpaceX. He just wants someone to share it with. The Japanese billionaire posted a website where women can apply to be his "companion" on the journey. Bloomberg


Climate activist turns down Siemens' offer of seat on energy board Guardian

The bearable whiteness of Little Women New York Times 

Gigi Hadid called as potential juror in Harvey Weinstein trial Variety 


"Have you been talking to my mom?"

-Sen. Cory Booker, on Twitter, after dropping out of the presidential race, in response to a report that fans were "mourning the possibility of First Lady Rosario Dawson" 

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