Oscars
Sally Hawkins in Shape of Water Via: Rolling Stone

Women are the birth givers, the caregivers, and the primitive beings who bring both you and me into this life. However, history confirms that a woman is not equal to that of man. Women’s Month first started out as Women’s week in 1982, as Congress continued to pass resolutions (specifically Pub. L. 100-9) so the President could officially declare March as the Women’s History Month. Women deserve equality because they served as

principal advocates in the abolitionist, temperance, mental health reform, industrial labor and social reform movements, as well as the modern civil rights movement.

This month both symbolizes and celebrates the breakthroughs, hardships, and achievements made by women throughout history to gain rights.

Weinstein arrest Via: WSLS.com

One of the challenges women have faced is sexual assault. Recently, the me-too movement started to become viral around October of 2017. Most notably, the famous Harvey Weinstein was accused by more than 50 women. Weinstein was the co-founder of Miramax, which produced successful films like Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989), Pulp Fiction (1994), and Heavenly Creatures (1994).

Italian actress Asia Argento spoke out to the New Yorker that Weinstein raped her when she was 21. Since the allegations, Weinstein “was arrested, processed and charged with rape, criminal sex act, sex abuse and sexual misconduct for incidents involving two separate women” (BBC news). He was later released on a one million bail bond, limited by an ankle tag.

Weinstein’s exposure was an imminent, but necessary part of film culture. Women have been oppressed since Hollywood first started making films.

Lets put ourselves in the footprints of a woman in the film industry. Women are judged on their looks, their reputation, the color of their skin, the color of their hair, and their age when it comes to the standards of Hollywood. And it’s now no secret that Hollywood has kept gender bias a secret in its own bubble. It’s true that Hollywood has been notoriously known for favoring men, and in regards to women, favoring younger women. This gives women a disadvantage, as famous actresses like Emma Watson and Jennifer Lawrence have spoke out about gender pay gaps.

Although women have gained equal pay, they still experience a glass ceiling preventing talented actresses to be limited in their roles. This is especially apparent in the Oscars. Most of this has to do with the roles women take or are given. That men supposedly put in “more work” than women. But what constitutes work? How are the Oscars judged? Could we change this?

Women face a disadvantage when pursuing career opportunities as film directors. According to Variety, among the results of the survey of 39 men and 20 women in the film biz:

44% said female directors are perceived to make films for a subset and/or less significant portion of the marketplace.

42% believe there is a scarcity of female directors and a small pool to choose from in top-grossing films.

25% cited women’s perceived lack of ambition in taking on directing jobs.

22% cited the skewed representation of women in decision-making roles in the industry as a factor in limiting job opportunities for female directors.

12% cited the belief that women “can’t handle” certain types of films or aspects of production, such as commanding a large crew.

So what is there we can do to change gender equality in the film industry?

Some liable solutions that can solidify equality in film culture are:

  1. Hollywood needs auditors who keep in check with payrolls and expenses. This is to ensure women and men get paid the same.
  2. The Oscars are biased and should be reconstructed so that women have the same opportunity to win accolades.
  3. There should be courses for both men and women in the film industry that are enforced as requirements to promote equality.
  4. Both women and men need to continue speaking out on inequality measures in the workplace.

However, the highest recognition women can receive in film are their achievements in the Oscars. This will provide breakthrough opportunities for future women who want to pursue film whether that be acting or directing. Judges need to reconsider women who win Oscars because:

  1. There are solid appreciation and accolade for culture. Not only that, when women win awards, they too, give others the opportunity and inspiration to chase their dreams in film and beyond.
  2. Children watch movies too. We forget that there are those films that inspire children. Even the ones that are bullied or disempowered. By empowering female directors and actresses, it allows girls and women to carry that energy with them.
  3. Provides a platform voice for women. Women have faced suppression from the beginning of time till today. There are still men who take advantage of females, just because of the biases they carry. We can’t blame them for this. But men can still change. When men give women the credit they deserve, it opens a whole nother opportunity for creativity and showcasing art.

Awkwafina, the rapper and actress, who debuted in Crazy Rich Asians said the following about females and diversity in film:

“That’s been at the crux of the feminist movement. I think that it’s really important for women to be brave. Man or woman, you’re going to be faced with some kind of obstacle and I realized very early on that no one is going to help you pick yourself up. That’s going to be you. It takes strength, it takes courage, it takes bravery and it’s something that you have to teach yourself. It takes a certain stance to not allow yourself to be blown away.” -Awkwafina

She is right. Diversity in film is not a trend that Hollywood can capitalize on. Rather, it’s something that’s going to continue to grow and touch the audience. And more female exposure in film should not correlate for good business. This also goes with cultural diversity. Rather, movies that do well, do so because they move people, they tell a story, and they are inclusive.

So where do we go from here?

Greta Gerwig in Lady Bird Via: Rolling Stone

It’s no mistake that women are underrepresented in film. If anything, Greta Gerwig is an archetype for the kind of creative and moving films that can come from females. There should not be gender inequality in the film industry. There should only be support for unique films and the opportunity to showcase those films.

Read More: Captain Marvel Movie Review, The Good, The Bad, The Mediocre

This year, “numbers-wise, women did have a comparatively good year. In the 20 non-gendered categories, 52 individual women were nominated, up eight from last year’s 44.” Only 5 women have been nominated as best director, and only one has won a nomination. There are no female nominees for cinematography, editing, score, or visual effects. But we’re heading in the right direction. Last year, The Shape of Water won the best picture award. This was huge because the movie revolved around a female protagonist, a feat in 13 years.

Men are not entirely at fault when it comes to how women are nominated. Rather, it’s the industry as a whole. Hollywood needs to rewire their traditional ways of hiring actresses and the Oscars needs to reconsider who decide to vote their wins, and how they vote their wins. Women’s History Month should not be a time of who gets the spotlight, but focused on unity. There has been a lot of improvement over the years and we WILL able to empower women and bring order to chaos.

Eric Lee
ericjhdlee@gmail.com

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