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The Oscars Tradition of Sexism and Racism had Lead Me to a Boycott [Column]

The+Oscars+Tradition+of+Sexism+and+Racism+had+Lead+Me+to+a+Boycott+%5BColumn%5D
Credit to Shutterstock/Faheem Salimullah

This year, I will be boycotting the Oscars.

The annual event that I look forward to every year has tarnished its reputation in my eyes and in the eyes of many women. For years, the Oscars have been slow to increase its diversity with the changing times. Not only have the Oscars seen a severe lack of racial diversity in its history, its lack of recognition of women in Hollywood is abysmal. The snub of the ‘Barbie’ movie was just the nail in the coffin for a string of Oscars disappointments that have lead me to my boycott. 

The Oscars have been a famously white event that has landed it in hot water over the years. In the past decade, 89 percent of all nominations went to white people, with 6.3 percent going to black artists, 2.6 to Latnix artists and only 1.4 percent to Asian artists according to Business Insider. We have seen an increase in representation compared to the Oscars past history. More recently ‘Everything, Everywhere, All at Once’ (2022) won seven out of its 11 nominations, with winners like Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan representing the Asian community in the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor categories. Other films like ‘Moonlight’ (2016) told a story from the black community and also saw appropriate recognition in the Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor categories. However, these awards are the most progressive the Academy has been in its history. And while they are moving in a better direction, it’s still not good enough. 

The lack of female representation is appalling and the Academy’s most recent actions have further solidified, in my mind, their direct overlooking of females in Hollywood. Only 28.8 percent of nominations in the past decade went to women in the top eight categories, according to Business Insider. Now one could say that categories like Film Editing and Sound Mixing/Editing are just as important. And yes I agree, in the making of a movie, the people that do these roles, and do them well, are vital to the success of the movie. But in the grand scheme of things, people do not pay attention to these categories like they do to Best Picture and Best Actress/Actor. The lesser known categories simply do not have the kind of cultural impact that the most prestigious awards do and in a time where women and people of color do not win nearly as many categories as white males, it does not do them justice to be winning subpar categories when they are well with in reach of the most prestigious awards. 

And yes, the obvious lack of representation in the Oscars is nothing new, so why now? Why not boycott when Glenn Close has been nominated seven times and has never won once, most recently in 2021 for ‘Hillbilly Elegy.’ Like many women around the world, ‘Barbie’ was more then just a movie about “a doll with big boobies.” It was a colorful, pink moment of solidarity for all women, recognizing the mistreat women face on a daily basis, and how we are not alone in our struggles. The movie was not only an amazing movie from a critical standpoint, from set and costume design, editing and directing, but all around it was a technically brilliant movie. But more then that, it left a culturally significant impact on us as a society and it brought women together in a way that only few other moments have been able to do. 

I had marked July 21 on my calenders since ‘Barbies’ release date was announced and I was anxiously awaiting its arrival. On the big day, my mom, grandma and I dressed in our best pink outfits and made our way down to the theater. We watched in awe as Robbie acted, Eilish sang and Gerwig directed. The end of the movie brought tears to all of our eyes and we shared in a generational womanly bond that we had never experienced before. So why is it that a technically brilliant movie with such an impact would be snubbed by the most prestigious movie awards organization in the world? Beats me. 

‘Barbie’ received a nomination for Best Picture, an almost mocking move as the people who made the movie what it was, director Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie, were subbed in their categories. Neither Gerwig nor Robbie were nominated for Best Director and Best Actress. This continues a tradition of female director snubs. Only eight women in the history of the Oscars have ever been nominated and only three have ever won. Emerald Fennell was also snubbed this year in the Best Director category for ‘Saltburn,’ a technically sound film. But the real kicker, male counterpart Ryan Gosling who played Ken, got nominated for Best Supporting Actor. In a world of shocks, this decision left me speechless. However America Ferrara, who played Gloria in the movie, was nominated for Best Supporting Actress and ‘Barbie’ was also nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Production Design and Best Costume Design. I would be thrilled to see these amazing women win in these categories, but these are not the flashy categories that propel women into the spotlight and into an era of more female progression in the film industry. These are the categories that are consolidation prizes for not winning the big prize. And I do not have faith in the Academy to be able to make the right choice and give ‘Barbie’ Best Picture, especially up against Oppenheimer, a film that I believe only garnered mass attention because it was released on the same date as ‘Barbie.’

So my boycott will happen on March 10, and I will be happily sitting in my room ignoring the ever-so-obvious sexism and racism within the Academy. Who knows if I will watch next year, only a miracle could make that happen. 

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