The Oscars (part one – frustration)

Blog, Film

The Oscars came and went – the time of year when gold figurines in the male form are given out to recognise “excellence in cinematic achievements”. Because what else could?

The people who decide who’s excellent are ‘the Academy’ – or AMPAS ‘the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ .


(photo credit Marcin Wichary – creative commons)

The Academy doesn’t have a great track record of being representative of society – according to a Los Angeles times study in 2012 94% of its members were white, 77% were male and 86% were aged 59 or older. And of the 43 people sitting on the board of governors – only six were female and Cherly Boone Isaacs doubled up as the only person of colour.

Looking back at the nominees this year – no women were nominated in the categories of animation, cinematography, direction, editing or sound mixing. There were a smattering of women across the board but there weren’t nearly enough considering 50% of people have a vagina.

And whose to blame? While it’s easy and tempting to blame the AMPAS members – and they aren’t excusable – they are only one part, one solitary body amid the giant complex mass of problematic universe surrounding and shaping them.

Since starting this project – my world is shifting, contorting and repositioning itself. I wasn’t known for being particularly optimistic about equality, but the reality I now see really is a lot worse than I had even imagined. I wanted this project to be a positive and constructive outlet for my frustration – but things are looming larger than they ever have before.

Our inequality as women is the entire great mass of our human history culminating in our current existence. And you can evidence it in each part – it will be there, in some manifestation or form. It’s in the gold male figurines, it’s in the board of governors, it’s in the funding awarded, it’s in the choices young women make. It’s in the promotion somebody else got, it’s the leg up, the hand held out, the old traditions – it’s in the frameworks we’ve been told to accept.

It flourishes in the bias of men and women, unbeknown to them. Its expectations are pulling down the very open sky to rest itself as a leaden weight on the shoulders of, women. That ceiling – they patronisingly coax us to crack.

And yes, let’s realise how fucking bad it is. And realise it’s everywhere. And call out that person who insists, ‘but we are equal!’.

And then let’s look forward to think about how we can make positive change, because we need to. And it is happening.

Organisations such as ‘women in film’, ‘agnes film’, ‘women make movies’ and ‘EWA’ financially, professionally ad practically aim to support women in the field and they will be integral in bridging the gap and bringing about a nomination list that actually in some way resembles our society.

Women supporting women will be how we bridge the gap.

I didn’t watch the oscars – this year I wasn’t able to watch the majority of films nominated. But a few (very few) things did get the all clear and I’ve either already enjoyed them or will be soon:

  • 13th, documentary directed by Ava DuVernay
  • 4.1 Miles, short documentary directed by Daphne Matziaraki
  • Toni Erdmann – foreign language film directed by Maren Ade


Hopefully this list will be significantly longer next year.