Oscar Thoughts: Boys, Boys and More Boys

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by Melissa Silverstein
February 28, 2012 12:00 PM
21 Comments
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Here's my thing about the Oscars.  There were women everywhere.  We can't stop talking about the great dresses.  Women were also there as great presenters (like the crew from Bridesmaids and Emma Stone) YET at the same time it felt like there were no women there.  Because really, hardly any women won anything significant on Sunday night.

I took another look at the Oscars yesterday. The show sucked. Let's face it. The Oscars are another part of the film film industry that takes us ladies for granted.  One moment that bothered me was that the only time I saw Agnieszka Holland the Polish director of In Darkness was in a shot of Billy Crystal because she was sitting next to him.  Why didn't they name the directors or at least show their pictures in the best foreign film category?  When A Separation won the award the director was the one who got up there.  All those directors hould have been acknowledged.  Last year we got to see Susanne Bier get up for her win. This year nada.  

Watching the show I noticed that 1 hour into the show only 2 women had won awards, the set decorator Francesca Lo Schiavo for Hugo and Octavia Spencer -- pathetic.

90 minutes still just the 2 women have been on the stage as winners.

2 hours - two women.

Finally at 2:10 Terry George and his daughter Oorlagh George win for The Shore in the Live Action Short category and then Daniel Junge and Sharemeen Obaid-Chinoy win for Saving Face (documentary short).  I also took note that both men who won took to the mic first.  Sharmeen gave a great speech and dedicated her Oscar to all the women in Pakistan.  She told the women not give up on your dreams.

But it was not all bad and I give my highpoint moment to the standing ovation for Octavia Spencer and her speech. I cried. This is a woman who was toiling in relative Hollywood obscurity. We really didn't know who she was. That will never be the case again.

I also really was into the Ellen Degeneres' JCP commercials.  They were kind of retro but totally grew on me.  You can watch them here.

But, there were many more hard moments to digest and one of them was Meryl Streep beating Viola Davis. If you read this blog you know that I love Meryl Streep and I thought she was great in The Iron Lady,  and it kind of pains me to say this but I really, really wanted Viola Davis to win.  

I wanted her to win because she has had such a diverse career and she is good in everything.  I wanted her to win because even with all the flack she was getting from so many people about playing a maid in The Help she was still most articulate woman about why she took the part and why she didn't feel demeaned by it.  I wanted her to win because I think that the industry is ok with letting women of color win for supporting roles, but has many issues with them being the leads.  I wanted her to win because she is a great role model and knows that she needs to be one and takes that responsibility very seriously.  

My overall thoughts from the evening is that we need girls and boys to see women on that stage not just as actors; we need them to see women directors and cinematographers and editors and writers all the other jobs.  Because relaly most people pay attention to the movie business just one night a year and on this night it looks all the people who do all the cool jobs were men.  We need people out there dreaming about telling a story to believe that their story is just as valid as the ones nominated for best picture, and sadly those stories do not reflect our culture as a whole.

All in all I found the actual show quite disappointing.  It really is a cultural touchstone and when these moments pass by and leave such evident gender disparity as its legacy, we all suffer for it.

Full list of winners.

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21 Comments

  • Bigger Brother | March 16, 2012 4:21 AMReply

    Oh you poor girls, girls and more girls! Do you honestly think that women have a divine right to win a quota of the prizes on offer? Do you really feel that you have a right NOT to be disappointed that your misandry was not endorsed by the Academy? If you put as much energy into making good films as you do into whinging about how unfair it all is then perhaps we might see more female winners. And lets be clear, the mediocre standard of Hollywood films has made it easy for you to do better.

  • Josephine | March 18, 2012 11:05 AM

    Of course, such statements are fair. There is a temptation to fall into a trap when one is being taught by a professor. The biases you learn in a classroom are no different than indoctrination. However, after years of a liberal arts education, I am proud to say that I have been taught to be open-minded and think for myself. My teacher, despite being an intelligent woman has biases that I will never have, but can appreciate for the sake of empathy. Bigger, I am interested in your reaction to my first comment.

  • Bigger Brother | March 17, 2012 9:05 PM

    Ah yes of course, "Women's Studies". A subject that perpetuates myths and removes the need for women to think for themselves.

  • Josephine | March 17, 2012 4:26 PM

    Thanks for the opportunity of using my knowledge garnered in this semester of Women's Studies so soon! Whew~ haha.

  • Josephine | March 17, 2012 4:25 PM



    Women aren't given anything. Men are expected to compete for things--women need to fight to even be in the picture, and be considered a contender. While a man is judged purely on how well he does, a woman needs to jump the barrier of NOT BEING A MAN in order for her contributions to be seen at all! Men are seen as the standard, and women the other, when women are seen as the same as men (with only slight biological differences, negligible statistically) then we can say that women are being judged on their achievements and hard work, and not on their being other than male.

    If we wanted to go further into this, we could discuss the staggering differences in opportunities afforded to men and women. Sports scholarships go to the boys teams, which are the highlighted sports teams--which isn't to say girls sports are non-existant, just down-played. In colleges the rate is 60% women to 40% men, but once you get past your bachelors, the academia is heavily male dominated once more.

    Women have never been entitled, thats what men are taught every day--"do that, be a man!" and when a woman acts on the entitlement that she deserves AS A HUMAN... she is arrogant? This is unfair and unequal. When a man acts on his entitlement, he is merely being a full citizen of the state. Why can't it be the same for women?

    Did you ever realize that without the recognition which women should recieve women which is so deserved, men would be invisible? It is through feminism that we have learned that men have rights that are long neglected as well.

  • Bigger Brother | March 16, 2012 8:13 PM

    There's that word again; "given". You expect to be GIVEN opportunities? Did it ever occur to you that if the industry is "male dominated" (which is highly debatable) then perhaps it's because the guys went out there and EARNED the right to make films. Like 12 year-old Steven Spielberg who used his initiative and imagination to make a short adventure film, or 13 year-old Nick Park who also started out using a home movie camera. Your sense of entitlement is staggeringly arrogant.

  • BIGGEST SISTER | March 16, 2012 3:44 PM

    Oh I'm sorry, you must live in a world where women have not had to work for every scrap of freedom and respect in this world but have it handed to them. Oh wait, that is a male perspective. To be clear, no one is asking for awards to be handed to them. People are asking for an even playing ground where women are given opportunities to make good films and for those films to have a chance to compete for awards in the male-dominated film market. If you don't believe in creating an even playing field for both genders and all races, well then that is a bigger problem.

  • Rachel | February 29, 2012 11:33 AMReply

    Thank god someone else said it! At WomensVoicesforChange.org we've been covering this for weeks and trying to increase awareness about the Athena Film Festival, which celebrates women in film. We don't all have to suffer, we just have to stay loud and active. (P.S we linked to your piece on our site!)

  • Michael Medeiros | February 28, 2012 4:43 PMReply

    I wanted Viola Davis to win because it was the best effing performance. A performance beyond skill and craft, though it had plenty of that. You'd have to be a brick to be unmoved by it. And that is a rare thing in this biz we love. And must be honored. bennettparkfilmsdotcom

  • Kim Cummings | February 28, 2012 3:56 PMReply

    The question is, how best to send a message to the Academy that they are not speaking to women? I suspect that the majority of viewers of the Oscars are women. What if all the women boycotted the Oscars, with the message that until the Academy starts recognizing the achievements of women, we will not watch. If enough women refused to watch to make the ratings dip, I suspect it would get their attention. Who's in?

  • Susan Lazarus | February 28, 2012 3:48 PMReply

    Well said, Melissa. I wasn't counting, but where were the women in the "what movies mean in my life" segments?

  • Eileen | February 28, 2012 10:24 PM

    Also, the clip reel of great movie moments was almost completely dude-centric.

    Except for that clip from The Exorcist, inexplicably. I thought, "Is this what they think of when they think about women?"

  • F.P. | February 28, 2012 3:06 PMReply

    The moment that was most disturbing was when those douchebags from that overrated tripe THE DESCENDANTS felt compelled to mock Jolie, while accepting an award that Bridget O'Connor should have been up there accepting for TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY. How women journalists and industry wonks failed to notice she co-adapted a great script, in a genre dominated by the male of the species, always struck me as odd...

  • F.P. | February 28, 2012 4:12 PM

    Even worse then. A posthumous award would have been an even stronger message and tribute, not to mention a worthy reward for the makers of the twistiest thriller of the year. They passed over Geraldine Peroni for Best Editing the year of Brokeback Mountain as well when she died... for Crash...

  • Melissa Silverstein | February 28, 2012 3:52 PM

    And it's so sad that she didin;t even get to enjoy any of this having passed away from cancer recently.

  • bob hawk | February 28, 2012 2:42 PMReply

    It should be pointed out that Daniel Junge, in going first and doing some "housekeeping" thank you's, graciously and with great deference made it quite clear that the final word should be Sharemeen Obaid-Chinoy's -- and she really delivered in an inspiring way.

  • kasey | February 28, 2012 2:27 PMReply

    The fact that so few women were represented in the winners is simply a reflection of the overall illness in Hollywood, the gaping gender disparity and lack of representation in major awards shows. Is it pitiful and disappointing, yes, but hardly surprising. I find it most interesting, and sad, that in regards to the Oscars the two most talked about occurrences seem to be Streep's win over Davis and Angelina Jolie's leg.

    I couldn't agree more with your last paragraph.

    The other thought I had as Tom Cruise announced the best picture nominees and win (besides how fine he looked) was wondering if a woman has ever announced this category.

    (on a somewhat related note--I'm disappointed that Gary Oldman didn't win.)

  • Debbie | February 28, 2012 2:19 PMReply

    I felt the same about an hour into the broadcast...OMG, it's all guys nominated and winning the awards. I found it really shocking. You could have heads of state and CEO's up on stage and it would have been more diverse. It all goes back to who gets financed....

  • Shannon | February 28, 2012 1:25 PMReply

    I totally agree Melissa and was also really disappointed that Woody Allen won best original screenplay over Bridesmaids when we know how groundbreaking that film was. It would have been nice to see the academy acknowledge the first successful comedy written and starred in by women during the last ten years or so. Instead, sexist Woody Allen won for his dippy film, ugh.

  • Nel | February 29, 2012 2:56 AM

    While I might agree with F.P. that Bridesmaids is not all it was cracked up to be, Midnight in Paris was the most sexist tripe I have ever witnessed.... I mean you have Gertrude Stein in there and they still managed to screw it up.

  • F.P. | February 28, 2012 2:59 PM

    Bridesmaids? Groundbreaking? Oh my, please tell us you're not of legal drinking age. That would be about the only way that statement would be tolerable. Surely, you have not read the many think pieces from May on how Kristen Wiig was less than happy when her boss, penis-possessing Judd Apatow, told her and Annie Mumolo to up the excrement-ante. You might dislike Woody, but how are you feeling about your statement now, knowing the 'groundbreaking' parts were inspired and demanded by A MAN??? Give me Nora Ephron and her groundbreaking vagina anyday, or quite frankly Woody Allen and his 80-year old pecker than shitting in sinks Apatowisms.

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