March 08, 2010

And the (White-Male Dominated) Oscar Goes To...

In 2002 the Guerilla Girls posted on their website the following:


A billboard at Highland and Melrose in Hollywood, March 1-31, 2002 - Presented by the Guerrilla Girls and Alice Locas, a group of film makers.

We decided it was time for a little realism in Hollywood, so we erected a billboard at Melrose and Highland in Los Angeles where for the month of March, 2002 we presented THE ANATOMICALLY CORRECT OSCAR. We redesigned the old boy so he more closely resembled the white males who take him home each year! We got a lot of attention, from as far away as Europe and Australia, most of it very sympathetic. And guess what: at the Academy Awards Ceremony on March 25, Halle Berry became the first ever African-American woman to win Best Actress and Denzel Washington the second ever African-American man to win Best Actor. We're very happy about that, but the film industry still has a long way to go.

Did you know that no woman has ever won the Oscar for Best Director, and that only two have ever been nominated? That 94% of the writing awards have gone to men? Or that only 3% of all the acting awards--lead and supporting--have ever gone to people of color.

Congratulations to Kathryn Bigelow on her historic win last night as Best Director.  But as Huffington Post contributor Scott Mendelson writes in his post Does the narrative behind Kathryn Bigelow's big Oscar win mars the event's power as a feminist triumph? As he states,"[w]hile it's terrific that the previously-undervalued Bigelow became the first female to win Best Director, it's more than a little depressing that such a big deal must be made of it. As I've always said, progress comes when you don't have to talk about it."
Additionally, last night's Oscar event was a big night for Geoffrey Fletcher.  Fletcher is the first African-American to win a writing award for the adapted screenplay for the movie Precious based on the novel Push by Sapphire.

As Reed Johnson wrote for the Los Angeles Times, that "[o]nly three other women had ever been nominated for director: Lina Wertmüller for "Seven Beauties" (1975); Jane Campion for "The Piano" (1993); and Sofia Coppola for "Lost in Translation" (2003)" and as "Mo'Nique won the award for supporting actress for her portrayal of an abusive mother in 'Precious,' she thanked Hattie McDaniel, the first African American to win an Academy Award, for the 1939 film 'Gone With the Wind.' Backstage, Mo'Nique acknowledged that she'd worn a royal blue dress and a flower in her hair because that's what McDaniel wore when she won. Only five black women have won an acting Oscar."

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