The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ new metrics for inclusion — which call for Best Picture contenders to check a certain number of boxes to meet diversity requirements — have been hotly debated since announcing on September 8. While some argue this levels the playing field to allow for more diverse creators to make their stories known, others say this tampers with creative expression. The bylaws’ detractors include Bill Maher, who on “Real Time” argues against what he calls forcing artists to abide by a “to-do list,” but he also turned to the Academy’s history to suggest that gestures toward diversity, however hollow, have been there all along.
* * *
Air date: September 18, 2020
And finally new rule: let me make the new rules. not the Academy Awards. If you missed it last week, because the state was on fire, the Oscars thought it would be a good time to announce a new set of requirements for best picture nominees that are based on fulfilling diversity quotas. And look, I’m all for inclusion I don’t know anyone in Hollywood who isn’t. Okay… Mel Gibson. But in general Hollywood is a liberal industry in a liberal town, in a state that’s bluer than the pope’s balls.
Have you watched the Oscars this century? Because this really seems like a case of washing a glass that’s already been through the dishwasher. The Academy is not exactly unknown for rewarding liberal virtue. They should call Best Picture ‘most worthy’. Look at the contenders and winners in recent years. been nominated not by their popularity with audiences, but by diversity and virtue-signaling: Green Book, Parasite, The Shape of Water, Boys Don’t Cry, A Beautiful Mind, Moonlight, Frida, Fences, Precious, Dallas Buyers Club, 12 Years a Slave, Roma, The Hours, Brokebach Mountain, Call Me by Your Name, and many more. Some very fine movies, but getting super liberals to be more liberal is not exactly the heavy lifting in the fight against racism.
By the way, there was a straight white guy who was a big winner one year, but it was only because he had a crippling speech impediment– [The King’s Speech].
Anyway, what the new rules say is to be eligible for– to compete for best picture a film must meet the standards of two of four new inclusion groups. Group A: a story line that centers on, or a star that represents an underrepresented identity group, or thirty percent of minor roles from two underrepresented identity groups, which include: Asian, Hispanic/Latinx, Black/African-American, Indigenous/Native American/Alaskan Native, Middle Eastern/North African, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, Women, LGBTQ+ people, people with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing. Wouldn’t it just be easier to say ‘not Chris Pine’? And that’s only group A… Then there’s stuff worthy goals I’m sure about diversity in the production company the studio and the crew. All I know is if — in the interest of diversity — they make a straight guy cut my hair– I’m fucked.
I’m look diversity is important. But it needs to be said: It’s not the only thing that’s important — thank you one guy.
It’s also important that we don’t wind up with artists guided less by a creative vision and more by a to-do list. Cameron Diaz is Cuban on her grandfather’s side. Is that Latina enough? Clint Eastwood is 200 years old. Does that count as a handy– does that count as a handicap? Darth Vader is voiced by a black man but when they took off his helmet the character was white how many points is that? I want to know, so I can be good. Because we are talking about a world where if you want to make the next Schindler’s List the first thing you’ll need to do is give a racial breakdown of all your employees. Does anyone see the irony in that? Apparently not…
But, um… Kirstie Alley did. She tweeted “can you imagine telling Picasso what had to be in his f*cking paintings. You people have lost your minds… OSCAR ORWELL. Wow… you know Hollywood is in trouble when the voice of sanity is a scientologist… But she’s right. Art and coercion is a bad combination. some of the best movies ever made were by refugees from communist and fascist countries who got out because they didn’t like being told what art was acceptable. They didn’t want to make a movie called Natasha Gets a Tractor.
We’re supposed to be the free country where artists can do what they want without having to show your paperwork to prove, you know, where everyone comes from, who they f*ck, and if they can hear.
And given that the industry is reeling as it is, and given that so much creativity and originality has already been sucked out of movies by sequels, blockbusters, and comic book franchises, and given that there’s an election in six weeks — maybe this wasn’t the time for this move. Also, I gotta say, I have been working in this industry a long time– at the end of the day people don’t want to be hired because they filled the quota… they wanna be hired because they’re good — and most of them are.