The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Scienes (AMPAS)

#OscarsSoWhite. Again.

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.

Oscar Nominations and the Lack of Diversity - "I'd like to formally nominate more diversity in film, please." - Jessica Williams

When I saw who the Oscar nominees were after waking up this morning, it took me a while to realize that anything was wrong. I got excited for the nominees, surprised over a few snubs, and started to think about who my picks would be to win in each category.

If you've visited any other page of this website, or if you have been following this blog for any length of time, or really just know anything about me beyond what you've read so far in this blog post, you'll know that I'm white. And that comes with an incredible amount of privilege. It's a privilege I've experienced my entire life, to the point where I sometimes even forget that I have it; it's so normal to me. Almost everyone on every screen that I watch looks like me, "The Greats" of most art forms - especially including film - look like me, and the people who praise and critique those people look like me. And while I am aware that it's an issue, it's so common that it's become normalized and I don't always remember it.

So when I saw the list of Oscar nominees, it didn't occur to me that just about all of them were white men. I didn't think of Ava DuVernay, who nearly made history as the first nominated black female director. I didn't think of the fact that Top Five was nowhere to be found. All the films that had been nominated were (in my opinion) deserving, so everything was generally fine.

Thank god for my friends who can see things more clearly than I, and who pointed some things out to me that I am now very disappointed I didn't notice for myself.

It's true that awards shows grow increasingly irrelevant as they continue to ignore the films that the average moviegoer actually sees. The Academy expanded the Best Picture category in order to include big blockbuster films, but generally doesn't do so. Award winning films are not taking in more money after their awards, and the Academy has had many famous instances of not giving statues to films that have stood the test of time and become cultural icons. The classic example: Citizen Kane didn't win Best Picture when it came out. The more modern example: Neither did The Social Network. Whether or not a movie won an award tends to ultimately mean nothing after a month or two.

But whether or not women and people of color are recognized for their work and taken seriously can mean everything, forever.

I'm not arguing that we should give award nominations to any old film that was made by women or people of color just because it was made by women or people of color. Giving awards just to help advance a movement does nothing but cheapen the award, make the movement seem weak, and overall prove itself to be a useless and meaningless action. And I'll even argue that, although Selma is nominated for Best Picture, there's no way it's going to win out over Boyhood. Selma is a great film, but Boyhood has literally changed the way we perceive cinema and the way it can be done. We can - and very much should - make other films telling black stories, but it will be a very long time before we see another movie like Boyhood.

But the fact that, in a year with films like SelmaTop Five, and also Annie, Wild, and Gone Girl, the fact that there aren't at least more nominations and recognition of the work of women and people of color is at best saddening, and, honestly, a bit closer to terrifying. We as a community can do better than this. We as a community can represent the people we strive to entertain better than this. And while it's too late for the 2015 Oscars, the silver lining is that at least we can do better next year.

Seriously, though. We have to do better next year. And the year after that. And the year after that. And every year, until even a white girl like me who has grown up surrounded by her skin color being the norm on screen would notice an Oscar nominees list that is almost entirely white men. And every year after that, until there is no such thing as just one skin color being the norm on screen. It certainly isn't in real life. And isn't it our job as artists to hold a mirror up to society - all of society?

The Academy Awards 2016: We can do better.