What Was Really Wrong With the Oscars?+comment
The Oscars were a little over a week ago and, so far, there’s been much ado about the ceremony. It’s not the winners that have been hotly debated (we all knew that Anne Hathaway was going to take it, whether we wanted her to or not) but the show itself. Sexist! The headlines cried. Misogynistic! Racist! We must burn Seth MacFarlane at the stake!
Woah. Wait a minute. The Oscar ceremony isn’t the issue. It’s a symptom of a bigger problem.
As you may have surmised by my name, previous articles for this site, Twitter account, blog, etc. I am a woman. I consider myself an independent woman and something of a feminist. And I was in no way offended by the opening song “We Saw Your Boobs.” Was it the funniest part of the evening? No. Was it the most offensive? Absolutely not.
And yet before the ceremony was even over people were saying how offensive it was to women and how we should all be insulted by the insensitivity of the Academy and of Hollywood. And, yes, we should. But not for a song about breasts. We should be insulted by the lack of women represented in any of the major categories.
Hollywood is a notorious boys club. It isn’t easy for a woman to get in and it’s harder still for a woman to move up. Speaking from experience, I can tell you that there are many executives who don’t want to hire a woman, either as an assistant or in a position of power. I was passed over for several positions that I was more than qualified for simply because “Oh, so and so doesn’t work with girls.” One executive interviewed me as a favor for a friend. He then proceeded to put me through the ringer and request references, work samples, the whole kit and caboodle. Ultimately, I did not get the job. I mentioned this to our mutual friend who told me: “Oh, yeah, he hired a guy. Not as good as you, but what can do you? He doesn’t work with women.”
Doesn’t work with women.
The same could be said of Hollywood itself. Katherine Bigelow remains the only woman to have ever won a directing honor and only four women have ever been nominated. However, Bigelow wasn’t even nominated this year even though “Zero Dark Thirty” was a much more well received and commercial film then her winner “The Hurt Locker.”
So what? People say. There aren’t any women directors (or editors. Or producers. Or cinematographers.)! Au contraire. There are women in all of these fields, they just aren’t as visible as their male counterparts. Women in Hollywood have to work overtime proving themselves. They have to be one of the boys. They have to be pretty, but not too pretty. Smart, but not too smart. Talented, but never conceited. They have to be the whole package and more.
The problem with the entertainment industry isn’t sexism at the awards ceremonies; it’s sexism in the industry. We shouldn’t blame comedians for pointing out a flaw in the Hollywood system. After all, to quote Peter Ustanov, “Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious.”