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Why Is Oscar Blue

Awards
by Melissa Silverstein
January 25, 2012 11:30 AM
7 Comments
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From the indefatigable Jan Lisa Huttner who writes the Hot Pink Pen.  Make sure to check out her Oscar Impact Chart.

Here's her thought process:

We all want to believe that Oscar is “gold” (that is, based on merit), so we begin with that assumption.

But close examination of the Oscar-nomination process reveals that Oscar is in fact “blue” (that is, heavily dependent on male filters).

Therefore most films by &/or about women are eliminated from contention early on, and they very rarely reach the finalist stage.

Films by women have a greater chance of success if they are about men (e.g., The Hurt Locker). Films about women have a greater chance of success if they are by men (e.g., Black Swan).

Films both by & about women are sometimes nominated, but rarely win anything (e.g., Winter’s Bone). The rare exceptions (e.g., Lost in Translation and The Piano both of which won Oscars for Best Original Screenplay) have very strong male characters, whereas films by male filmmakers can win Oscars even if they include no significant female characters (e.g., The Social Network).

Why does this happen, consistently, year-after-year? It happens because most film critics are men, therefore men are disproportionately represented on film festival juries, and in film critic circles (e.g., my own local group – the Chicago Film Critics Association).

With the exception of SAG (the Screen Actors Guild), men are also disproportionately represented in major guilds such as the DGA (the Directors Guild of America), the WGA (the Writers Guild of America) and the PGA (the Producers Guild of America).

Do I think this is conscious or deliberate on the part of male film critics and male guild members? No. I think it’s “second nature.” They like what they like, they consider their own views “the norm,” and they don’t really consider the idea that their own views might be biased.

And so it goes…

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7 Comments

  • Bes | January 26, 2012 4:23 PMReply

    Julian, here is how men who like film can help women. Stop "helping" us. Stop making idiotic films about empowerfulated women who run around in underwear or nude like Sucker Punch and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and let us write, cast, costume, direct, film and edit our own stories. OK?

  • JAN LISA HUTTNER | January 25, 2012 11:50 PMReply

    And right on cue, here's a thread that just came my way on Facebook:
    http://www.thehotpinkpen.com/?p=2351

    Thazzit for me. Time to watch The Colbert Report. Tomorrow is another day :-)

  • JAN LISA HUTTNER | January 25, 2012 11:00 PMReply

    Julian: The goal here isn't to stereotype anyone (male OR female). I'm just providing a graphic display that I think tells a story most people just don't get (altho year after year the specific results I've predicted are almost always affirmed). I don't believe in Mars versus Venus. We all live here on Planet Earth. That said, there's a reason why political polsters spend so much time digging into "the Gender Gap" every election season. You seem like a pretty supportive guy, so just give it some thought before you decide... OK?

  • Jan Lisa Huttner | January 25, 2012 10:49 PMReply

    Maria: BRIGHT STAR is a wonderful example! Here's my review: http://www.womenarts.org/reviews/BrightStar.htm

  • earl hofert | January 25, 2012 7:07 PMReply

    Not only that, the men are even beginning to take over the categories normally reserved for women. After all, one of the Best Actress slots has been taken by the guy who played one of the pirates in "Hook," taking a nomination away from an actual female like Anna Paquin for "Margaret." Worse, the nominations for Bridesmaids only serve to perpetuate the stereotype that it was a funny movie. When will the horror end?

  • Julian | January 25, 2012 2:35 PMReply

    Am i the only one who thinks the writer of this article is stereotyping men a little?I myself feel woman are equally capable of writing and directing, and i happen to be a guy. Plus it doesn't really give any ideas as to how men who believe in quality can help out women in cinema. I feel like the writer is implying all male film fans are sexist by nature, which i don't believe is true.

  • Maria | January 25, 2012 2:24 PMReply

    "I think it’s “second nature.” They like what they like, they consider their own views “the norm,” and they don’t really consider the idea that their own views might be biased." Such a great quote, thank you! I have so many male filmmaking friends who do not understand this. One had the naivete to tell me that I should watch "Tree of Life" so that I could understand the male perspective in film... um, most films are from the male perspective. This article helps explain how such an amazing film as Jane Campion's "Bright Star" could have been completely overlooked at Oscar time. Thanks for your continued work promoting women in film.

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