responding to facts about inequality
No black Oscar nominees? Maybe that’s because all the movies this year from black actors or producers were crap. (VR Kaine)
The recent all-white Oscar nomination scandal provides lovely examples of how people respond to facts about inequality. At a glance, given that black people make up 12.3% of the population of the USA, it seems perfectly reasonable that in any given year there might not be black nominees.
The Oscars are the most prestigious movie awards in the world. The people who receive these awards are some of the most celebrated and revered (sadly, really) in the world. The impact of movie making on shaping our attitudes cannot be underestimated – and, as such, there is a responsibility to ensure it is representative of all areas of society.
Let’s look at some facts about the people who choose the Oscar winning heroes:
there are 6,028 voting members; 94 percent of them are white, 77 percent are men and 86 percent are over the age of 50. (International Business Times)
It’s not an exaggeration to say that the Oscars are simply the rich, old, white man’s awards. If we turned these statistics on their head – 93% non white, 77% female and 86% under 50, it would be branded as the ‘Diversity Awards’ that mainstream media would give a 5 second ‘diversity’ slot. Our societies value all that is white and male, and we refuse to knock it on the head, because by the time we see the statistics, we’re already to programmed to think that this is the case because all that is white and male is superior.
If you’re a woman, not white, have a non-mainstream experience of sexuality, gender or health, you have a chance of being able to see the root discrimination, barriers and bias that have formed our societies, and continue to inform what is made and what is celebrated. If you are a white, mainstream man, chances are you that even if you can acknowledge there is inequality, you’ll be left with a suspicion it’s because women, people of colour and anyone else from a non-mainstream background, just aren’t up to standard. When the society you live in reflects *you* as the ideal, why would you want to change anything?
And a final observation from the UK media. In the ITV lunchtime news report on this, smugly covering racism in the USA, we were shown the best male actor, supporting male actor and songwriter (given that he was British). Not a whiff of interest in what any woman won. Equality irony runs thick and deep. The reason there are female and male categories is that if there was simply a ‘best person in acting role’ category, these would be no variation to the purely white male nominations. Because white men just do things better.
Nobody cares what color movie makers are. Nobody ever has.
Whether actor Sidney Poitier from decades ago, or director Robert Rodriquez from today, all anybody cares about is whether a movie is good or not.
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What about whether the movie is made or not? Who chooses to fund what film with what director? How does society evaluate what is ‘good’ about a performance? Everything that is white and male seems to be ‘better’ in all these considerations – more films made about them by directors like them and applauded … by people like them. I don’t mind white males having a place where they appreciate their own work. I just think there is disproportionate funding and praise given to their endeavours. It’s not a true reflection of what makes up our societies, but it is a true reflection of who holds disproportionate power.
Some responses to your questions:
“What about whether the movie is made or not?”
This would have been true back in the 60’s or even the 80’s when it was only the big cinemas, but thanks to the Internet for one and the tons and tons of film festivals out there for another, all “victim” criticisms that “I didn’t get a fair chance” get blown out of the water.
The Blair Witch Project is one example. What the #@!$ Do We Know?!?! is another. Even this year, look at all the films which get noticed or picked up from the smaller film festivals found around the world.
“Who chooses to fund what film with what director?”
There’s two simple answers to this: Money and religion. Re: religion, as I shared in other links, there’s still a bias towards Jewish people in Hollywood, just like there was towards Scientologists as well. Listen to Christian women or Conservative women talk about the kinds of parts they are offered or roles that they get. All these “equality” people don’t whine about that, though, do they?
Regardless of that influence, however, it really just boils down to money. Studios get asked why they won’t “take a chance” on a female director, or a black director, and this is what they don’t get (because “fair share” liberals don’t get a) leadership, or b) money – period): money makes everybody the same color – GREEN. Check out the documentary “Seduced and Abandoned”. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2402179/) Just because you’re Alec Baldwin, and you’re even trying to remake a popular hit from the past, it STILL doesn’t mean you’re going to get backed. It’s all a math game.
“How does society evaluate what is ‘good’ about a performance?”
What are you saying is “society” here? A bunch of old, white men at the Academy? Are they society? If so, your theory of bias falls down when you consider actors like Sidney Potier getting awards for “To Sir With Love”, or Spike Lee for “Do the Right Thing”, or movies like “The Butler”, “Selma”, or “12 Years a Slave”. Why would they even be considered, under your theory? And just because you are a (white?) female, does that mean you can or can’t tell me whether a black man was good in a role or not, or whether you found a Tyler Perry movie to be funny?
Like I said in the quote you so conveniently parsed above, I said “Straight Outta Compton” was crap because it was a movie that glorified misogynistic thug rappers. Yes, they took on the “white” music industry and kicked ass – they got their award from the market and from capitalism by producing something that a large number of people wanted and they got rich – congratulations. But because it’s black, that automatically is supposed to get it an Oscar?
Second was “Concussion”. Here, I do think Will Smith got snubbed. My personal belief is that the NFL brass have ties to the Hollywood brass, and the NFL used its influence not to have a very serious and current issue not come to the public light. But was Will Smith’s performance better than any of the other performers who got nominated?
You ask a valid question about what society believes should deserve an Oscar or not, but consider this as well – unless we’re actors or directors or producers or ourselves, what do we know? We’re laypeople. We want to see the movies we ENJOYED get an award, and if you’re liberal, then you want some stupid hiring quota in their as well, I guess, but save that for the “People’s Choice Awards” then. Make THAT the bigger award, and let people use THAT for their social platform along with the marketplace. The Oscars, however, are about people within that industry recognizing themselves. I think people lose sight of that.
Lastly, I’ll leave you with this: http://www.mpaa.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/MPAA-Theatrical-Market-Statistics-2014.pdf
Check out the demographics in there, particularly starting with Page 13:The 2014 Gender Share of Total Population, Movie Tickets Sold. For as much bitching as there is about male/female leads, look at the split of movie-goers in terms of gender: pretty much 50/50.
Further down, Ethnicity. Population is 63% White, 17% Hispanic, 12% African-American. Wow – check this out – both moviegoers were equally proportionate, and tickets sold were equally proportionate as well. Think, perhaps, that people in charge of keeping the jobs of hundreds of thousands of people by “picking winners” might want to match: a) the movies being made and b) who they’re trying to sell them to along those statistics?
And oddly enough, Liberals think that the 12% should be equal to the 63% and what, just skip over the 17% Hispanic population? Where are they in all of this #BlackLivesMatter and #WhiteOscars race-card b.s.? I say it’s odd but I don’t mean it – “Fair Share” Liberals PRETEND to care about others, but when it finally comes down to it, it’s clear that they never do.
In closing, I agree with your commentary to a point: yes, there is a bias and we must do what we can to reduce that bias as much as possible and create a level playing field, but where I differ from you is my belief is in terms of opportunity, not result. People wanted “Compton” to win because of their white guilt – PERIOD. They wanted to once again show “reparations” and use the Oscars as yet another way for them to do it without any money coming out of their pockets. How many times did you go see it, btw? Liberals will go on and on and on about how supposedly “good” of a movie it was, but none of them will ever tell you that they saw it more than once, or are buying it on DVD, even though they say they want to “support” that community. They’re full of shit.
Anyways, sure – get rid of those old white guys at the Academy so all you “white guilters” out there can feel better, but think of what you are doing and asking. You’re not even actors or in the industry, the lot of you, so I ask you: what business is it of yours to be deciding who wins awards in that industry or not? Why do you get to say? Just more shouting and bullying which the far left is famous (and pathetic) for.
To me, our “winners and losers” are picked in the market, and according to all the market statistics that are straight up (i.e. not skewed by liberal bullshit), our dollar “votes” are working just how they should be. I don’t like the fact that “The Avengers” or “Batman vs. Superman” are getting all the big budgets, either – I’m not an 18-24yr old kid – but c’est la vie – if I don’t like it I can go to a film festival or I can watch Netflix and see pretty much anything I want.
i havent watched or cared about the oscars for decades. most of the movies out since i was in high school suck anyway. the very few that don’t suck, i can choose for myself to see or not and determine for myself whether they are worth my approbation. the oscars is just a marketing campaign to get more people to the theaters for movies.
You don’t personally need to care about it for it to impact on society. It’s a marketing campaign that works and gets a lot of attention. It’s adulation for white males by white males.
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i agree, the impact is enormous. reinforces all the worst of humanity
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A better argument might have been to tell someone to just watch Creed and ask if Sylvester Stallone really was the only person who deserved a nomination. I mean, just actually watch Creed.
Or ask why Julianne Moore is less famous that Leonardo, or Denzel, or Brad (all people you know who I’m talking about with just their first names…)
We disagree about a lot of things about inequality: how we should measure it, to what extent it is prevalent, the existence of a general ‘patriarchy’. But in broader terms, I think we can agree.
A better argument or a different angle on the same argument? I don’t know where you’re based, but here in the UK we have a popular chat show host called Jonathan Ross. I’ll never forget the time he had Michelle Pfeiffer on the couch and spent the whole interview talking about all the great male actors she’d worked with. Her career, her talent, was nothing. She was just someone who was lucky enough to have worked with white male actors he respected. I think of people like Charlize Theron and Helena Bonham Carter – well respected but they don’t receive the same adulation as male actors who are half as impressive. The film industry is right up there in our faces, and I think it’s an accurate reflection in this respect of how we treat people based on gender. I expect it’s the same in terms of race too.
I’m based in Bristol.
And I wonder how Jonathan Ross ever even deserved a chat show…
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I remember that Michelle Pfeiffer interview and it was shit. As for the competition between male and female actors’ “popularity”, I think that’s a b.s. argument. Who’s “hot or not” depends on the movie and the year.
Denzel was huge when “The Hurricane” was out. Helen Mirren with “The Debt” and “The Queen”. Is someone honestly going to tell me that DiCaprio is “hotter” than Jennifer Lawrence right now? I doubt it and he was nowhere a few years ago when “The Hunger Games” was taking the movie world by storm.
I’m not saying there aren’t any biases. Obviously there still are, but let’s not get all ridiculously-inclusive here and say everything is biased like all “Fair Share” Liberals so love to do, otherwise what’s next – complaining that pianos are racist because the big keys are white and the little keys that nobody likes to play are all black? Come on.
People love to talk about the Oscars right now, but look even what Chris Rock said hosting them; “Everything’s not sexism; everything’s not racism.”
Funny, that quote of his never gets repeated – I wonder why.
Have you seen this? http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/TERF
That’s fantastic, thanks! I’m in two minds here, really want to do a post but annoyed I probably won’t have time to deal with comments (if I get any). I find if I don’t post in the moment I want to, I completely lose interest in the topic.