Representation Matters

  • Anisha Menath ’21

As the New Year begins, nominations of different awards are released to the public and award ceremonies are held. This is meant to celebrate the work of Hollywood and be a time to reflect on the progress that it has made. Unfortunately, this year, taking into account the Golden Globe nominations and awards as well as the Oscar nominations, Hollywood has made no progress in including women and people of color in the awards.

According to “Time” Magazine, in 2019 10.6% of the top grossing movies of the year were made by women. Although this is a small fraction, this is a record number of female directors who have directed these movies. This has proven that, given the needed resources and respect, women can create films that are economically comparable to those created by their male counterparts. But, equal treatment of women in the film industry is nowhere close to happening as the “Time’s Up” movement continues to display how women are treated in the industry. The work of female directors was also completely ignored for both the Golden Globes and Oscar nominations.

Female directors were left out of the category of Best Director even though women made some of the best films this year such as Greta Gerwig Little Women (Greta Gerwig), The Farewell (Lulu Wang), Queen and Slim (Melina Matsoukas), Booksmart (Olivia Wilde), and Hustlers (Lorene Scafaria). These were some of the highest grossest films of the year, and yet they were not even nominated which indicates that sexism continues to plague Hollywood. Women and people of color need to be recognized for their work if Hollywood wants to claim that it is taking a step towards being more progressive and inclusive. People of color also struggle with representation in Hollywood.

Although 2019 had movies that were more diverse than the previous year, a conscious effort needs to be made to be more inclusive. The Oscar nominations, which came out in early January, completely dismissed the work of people of color, making the Oscars, yet again, very white. This year during the Golden Globes very few people of color won awards, one of them being Akwafina, who won for her role in The Farewell. She became the first Asian-American woman to ever win the best actress award which is a huge step for people of color in the industry. On the other hand, the number of people of color nominated in the first place adequate to display progress. Awkwafina’s nomination and win should be celebrated but it is equally important to understand that the lack of progress of racial inclusivity in the industry.

Lastly, the corruptness of these individual award ceremonies have purposely blocked out minorities in hollywood. For example, to be nominated, according to “Time” Magazine, the quality of the film that is nominated has to be of a certain distinction. It is not clear what this means, but it is implied that it means how much money the film has made and prestige of the director. This is unfair for women who direct movies that are as good as their male counterparts, if not better. Female directors direct movies that are compelling because they complete a part of the picture that has been missing from Hollywood.

The Golden Globes and Oscars are losing their prestige because of their lack of representation and recognition of movies that were favorites of audiences. When more women and people of color make movies more people are able to relate to them so they are more likely to go and see them in theaters. Representation matters because it inspires viewers of films. Diversity only increases the quality of a film because it adds more depth to represent the country and the world.

Photo from The Hollywood Reporter

By Axel de Vernou

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