Happy half-birthday to me! Today I'm going to talk about why I've been considering giving up one of my favorite things of the year this year. Whee!
If you've been following me for any length of time, you'll know that I absolutely love awards season. Sure, Hollywood awards are meaningless, given by a self-selected group of elitist white men, and are, in the end, almost entirely about the glitz, glamour, and self-congratulation of the awards ceremony on TV. I get that. I really do.
But oh my god, I love them. Everyone is so pretty! And you get to watch the winners' dreams come true! And it's all about celebrating some of the best told stories of the year! And if I could, while I'm one billion percent on board with #AskHerMore, I would wear couture gowns all day every day.
The thing is, it's kinda impossible to ignore #OscarsSoWhite. Two years in a row? Even the one year in a row it was last year was too much. And I saw calls going around for a boycott this year. I am a firm believer in being more of an activist than making Facebook statuses... or writing blog posts on a personal website. Which means that I should put my money where my mouth is (or, rather, take that money away from ratings agencies and advertisers) and join the boycott.
But at this point, what would that actually accomplish? The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has already said they're going to double their number of minority and female voting members by 2020. There are definitely performances and films by people of color and women that came out this year that deserve awards-level recognition. What we need is a culture that actually recognizes them. The SNL sketch is actually pretty on the mark about it.
Here's the thing: If what we need is a complete change of culture, I don't think a boycott is going to accomplish that. The fact that the AMPAS is increasing their number of minority and female members shows that they know the community is upset. A boycott isn't going to completely change the culture in the way it needs to be changed. Complaining that underpriviledged people aren't being let into their elite club isn't the way to get them to admit underpriviledged people into their elite club.
I'm gonna be honest: I'm not sure what the next step to take would be, if it's not a boycott. There are means out there for female filmmakers and filmmakers of color to make movies and get them out there. Not nearly as many, and we are not a part of the white, straight, cisgendered boys club that is most filmmakers, but it's not impossible. We can do more, though. I just wish I knew what that more is.
In the meantime, I'm probably not boycotting the Oscars. It would just be not taking advantage of something I love, and, in the end, for zero net gain. But I don't think I'll be making picks, analyzing each nominee's chances, or doing a write up of any of it. I just don't feel like analyzing Charlotte Rampling in conjunction with other wonderful actresses.
(I mean, come on, Charlotte Rampling. The outcry is "racist against white people"? That's not even a thing. We're not on the bad end of systemic oppression. She's excellent at the craft, but damn. If nothing else, this controversy has made an excellent litmus test for how racist most white people in Hollywood are.)
And, at the very least, I can start to look forward to next year's Oscars. The Birth of a Nation just sold for $17.5 million to Fox Searchlight at Sundance, the highest amount ever paid for a film there. They went with Fox Searchlight instead of Netflix, which was offering $20 million, because they agreed to have screenings of it in high schools and do other community things like that. And it's already being seen as an Oscar contender. So there's hope for the 2017 Academy Awards yet.