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What do we actually gain from prestigious award shows?

The image of statues toppling to the ground has become a familiar one in recent years. Many busts, figures, and iconography paying tribute to racist histories have been removed—sometimes by the people and sometimes by establishments. But when will our sights be set on film and entertainment, an industry whose institutions continue to give out tiny statues symbolic of a racist and sexist legacy?

The Golden Globes, Academy Awards, and Recording Academy have all come under scrutiny in recent years for lack of diversity, inclusion, and representation amongst its associations, nominees, and awardees. As institutions based in the United States, where white supremacy, systemic racism, and patriarchy are still upheld, each of these award ceremonies have historically failed to acknowledge and celebrate the work and efforts of Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), women, and those from the LGBTQIA+ community.

In 2016, this inspired the #OscarsSoWhite protest, a hashtag created by April Reign after the academy awarded all 20 acting nominations to white actors two years in a row. Now, in 2021, the Golden Globes is facing similar backlash, only this time it’s the network that’s finally holding the award show accountable. NBC announced it will not air the Golden Globes in 2022 in order to give the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the group of 87 international journalists that presents the Golden Globe Awards, time to make meaningful changes.

One such change should be diversifying its ranks; the HFPA has no Black members, and it shows in how the HFPA conducts itself. This year, an HFPA member confused Daniel Kaluuya for Leslie Odom Jr. This occurred right after Kaluuya won Best Supporting Actor for his work in Judas and the Black Messiah. Another member, the President of the HFPA no less, was expelled from the group after calling Black Lives Matter a “hate movement.”

On top of blatant racism, the Globes have also been accused of sexism. Scarlett Johansson called for the awards ceremony to be boycotted, noting that she has faced “sexist questions and remarks by certain HFPA members that bordered on sexual harassment.”

The HFPA also was sued recently by Kjersti Flaa, a Norwegian entertainment journalist. Flaa accused the HFPA of “institutionalizing a culture of corruption.” Specifically, she alleged HFPA members accept thousands of dollars in emoluments from studios, networks, and celebrities who are then awarded trophies in top categories. And this isn’t the first lawsuit of this nature filed against the HFPA. In 2011, publicist Michael Russell sued the HFPA after watching the association accept money, vacations, gifts, and other perks from studios and producers. These same studios and producers were then nominated and awarded Golden Globes.

However, Flaa’s lawsuit against the HFPA was dismissed by a judge, leading a current member to disclose to the Los Angeles Times: “The dismissal was disappointing. I thought it would shake things up…We are an archaic organization. I still think the HFPA needs outside pressure to change.”

This year, The Weeknd, Halsey, Teyana Taylor, Nicki Minaj, and Zayn Malik accused the Grammys of practices similar to those of the Globes. Following The Weeknd’s dismissal of the award show, Drake said, “I think we should stop allowing ourselves to be shocked every year by the disconnect between impactful music and these awards. This is a great time for somebody to start something new that we can build up over time and pass on to the generations to come.”

On top of alleged corruption, the Grammy Awards hasn’t consistently recognized people of color in its top categories. For example, the last Black artist to win Album of the Year was Herbie Hancock in 2008, and the last Black woman artist was Lauryn Hill in 1999, according to The New York Times.  In 2020, Tyler, The Creator joined Drake, Kanye West, and Frank Ocean in criticizing the Grammys for continuing to overlook Black artists.

“It sucks that whenever we—and I mean guys that look like me—do anything that’s genre-bending they always put it in a rap or urban category. I don’t like that ‘urban’ word—it’s just a politically correct way to say the n-word to me. When I hear that I’m just like why can’t we be in pop? Half of me feels like the rap nomination was a back-handed compliment,” Tyler, The Creator said backstage after winning Best Rap Album for “IGOR” at the 2020 Grammys.

The Golden Globes and the HFPA also have a habit of snubbing people of color. Despite a variety of Black-led film productions released last year, none were nominated for Best Motion Picture Drama at the 2021 Globes. This includes Da 5 Bloods, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Judas and the Black Messiah, and One Night in Miami. In addition, Minari, an American film, won Best Foreign-Language Film, proving once again how Asian Americans are viewed in the U.S.

Minari’s Youn Yuh-Jung wasn’t nominated for any categories, even though she won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Other snubs included Meryl Streep, who wasn’t nominated but her Prom co-star James Cordon was; and Cristin Milioti, who wasn’t nominated but her Palm Springs co-star Andy Samberg was. The HFPA also confusingly nominated Sia’s controversial and ableist film Music for Best Musical/Comedy Motion Picture.

Headscratchers like any of the abovementioned choices only give more credence to former host Ricky Gervais’s analysis that the Golden Globes award is a “bit of metal that some nice old confused journalists wanted to give you in person so they could meet you and have a selfie with you.” Don’t get me started on how the Golden Globes and other award shows have failed to acknowledge, nominate, and award entertainment industry performers like stuntmen and women and voice actors.

All of these exclusionary efforts beg the question: who are these award shows for?

Historically, NBC has promoted the Globes as “Hollywood’s Party of the Year.” But if it’s a party for Hollywood, why is it televised for us? And I’m not the only one who’s wondering. Ratings for these shows continue to drop. This year’s Golden Globes ratings decreased by 63% (6.9 million people watched this year compared to 18.4 million last year), the Oscars decreased nearly 56% (10.4 million people compared to last year’s 23.6 million), and the Grammys decreased by 53% (8.8 million viewers compared to 18.7 million last year).

As moviegoers, television show viewers, and music listeners, we know awards and accolades don’t affect how we consume media. Films, television shows, and music will resonate with us whether or not it’s award-winning. We relate to content no matter what anyone else says, especially faceless associations who fail to check the racism and sexism that runs rampant amongst their ranks.

So again I ask: who are these award shows for? If award shows are important in recognizing creativity and excellence in an industry, then I have to agree with Drake and suggest we establish new institutions to do so. To the Golden Globes, Oscars, and Grammys I say good riddance and good day—because if these old institutions continue to fail to make room at the table for everyone, then why not start a new table with limitless chairs?

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Here’s everything you missed from the Oscars 2021 gala

Did you miss this year’s Oscars? Nothing to fear! We have summed up all the best moments.

 The Academy Awards are usually held in the Dolby Theatre and seat almost 3400 attendees. The event is filled with a jam-packed program that includes star-studded skits and sketches, epic montages, and elaborate in-person musical performances – all with a comedian serving as host. This year’s affair, held on Sunday 25 April 2021 was noticeably more intimate.

For the 2021 gala, all of the theatrics were swapped out for a more subdued evening. Held at the Union Station, the 170 attendees were seated around tables, in the vein of the first few Oscar ceremonies. Musical performances were recorded and aired before the telecast. Skits were paired down to Lil Rel Howery quizzing Andra Day, Daniel Kaluuya, and Glenn Close, who showed off her music knowledge and dance skills. There was no host for the third time in a row, but celebrity presenters galore with Oscar-winning actress and director Regina King kicking off the evening that proved just as historic as the times it was held in.

Here is a list of our breakthroughs and firsts of the night:

1. Daniel Kaluuya makes Britain and Uganda Proud

Oscar winner, Daniel Kaluuya
[Image Description: Daniel Kaluuya poses backstage after his historic Oscar win.] Via The Academy.
As an awards season favorite winning Golden Globe, SAG, and BAFTA awards, it was no surprise when Daniel Kaluuya took home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor at this year’s Academy Awards. His performance as Fred Hampton, deputy chairman of the Black Panther Party was a standout and his acceptance speech proved to be just as memorable.

In an embarrassing yet hilarious moment, he excitedly expressed his appreciation for life and commented, “My mum and my dad… they had sex and now I’m here!” Before that, he made sure to thank “family, friends and everyone I love from Londontown to Kampala” as he became the first Black British actor and the first actor of Ugandan descent to win an Oscar.

2. Best Actor category was the last award presented

This year's Best Actor nominees
[Image Description: The nominees in the Best Actor category at this year’s Academy Awards. From left to right: Riz Ahmed, Steven Yeun, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Gary Oldman and Chadwick Boseman.] Via Variety.
The Best Picture category is often the pièce de résistance of the night and the last award presented. In a rare turn of events and for the first time, the Best Actor category was the last award presented of the evening.

This definitely fueled rumors that the Academy was going to posthumously honor Chadwick Boseman for his final performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be for the actor, with the honor of going to Sir Anthony Hopkins for his role in The Father.

3. Honoring the elders

Oscar-winning costume designer, Ann Roth, at work on the set of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
[Image Description: Oscar-winning costume designer Ann Roth, adjusting actress Taylour Paige on the set of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom] Via IMDB.
As previously mentioned Sir Anthon Hopkins won the Best Actor statue and became the oldest person to win in the Best Actor category at 83 years old. Proving age is just a number, Ann Roth tied in becoming the oldest woman to win an Oscar at the age of 89 for her costume design work in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

4. South Africa’s first documentary win

The poster to My Octopus Teacher available on Netflix
[Image Description: Poster of My Octopus Teacher.] Via Netflix.
After winning a slew of awards during award season, My Octopus Teacher was able to wrap its tentacles around the Best Documentary Feature Oscar at the 93rd Academy Awards. In doing so, My Octopus Teacher became the first South African nature documentary to become a Netflix Original and to win an Oscar.

5. South Korea makes history again

Best Supporting Actress winner Yuh-Jung Youn
[Image Description: Yuh-Jung Youn speaking as she accepted her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress..] Via E!
Continuing South Korea’s winning streak after Parasite, Youn Yuh-Jung became the first Korean actor to win an Oscar for her portrayal as the matriarch in one of the 2020s most talked about films, Minari. Youn Yuh-Jung won in the Best Supporting Actress category.

6. First woman of color to win Best Director

Chloe Zhao is the first woman of color to win for Best Director
[Image Description: Director Chloe Zhao accepting the Best Director Oscar for her work on Nomadland.] Via the Academy.
Chloe Zhao graciously accepted the award for Best Director for Nomadland and became the second woman to win the award after Katheryn Bigelow in 2009. She also became the first woman of color and the first Asian, specifically, Chinese woman to win in that category.

7. First time is H.E.R. lucky charm

Best Original Song winner H.E.R.
[Image Description: H.E.R.’s holding her Oscar.] Via Variety.
R&B singer H.E.R. is used to receiving music awards and parlayed that into film when she was not only nominated but won for Best Original Song on the first try. She won for the anthem, Fight for You, featured in the film, Judas and The Black Messiah. This victory also made her first black woman win in this category since Irene Cara in 1983.

8. Black women finally honored in makeup and hair

The first black women to win an Oscar for Best Hair and Makeup
[Image Description: Mia Neal (left), Jamika Wilson (center), and Sergio Lopez-Riviera (right) celebrating their historic win.] Via Variety.
Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson made history on Sunday night after becoming the first black women to receive a nomination and subsequent win in the Best Hair and Makeup category. Their amazing work alongside Sergio Lopez Riviera can be seen in Viola Davis’ transformation in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

9. First animated film to feature a Black character in the lead.

The offical poster for Pixar's laestest animated film, Soul
[Image Description: Poster for Pixar’s ‘Soul’.] Via IMDB.
“It’s been way too long, and I don’t know that we really have a good answer. We’re always looking to reflect as much of the world out there as we can, and we’re happy that it’s finally happened — that we are representing a part of the population that just hasn’t had as much voice in our films up to now.” director Pete Docter said of the why it took so long for Pixar to have a film with a black lead character.

The film is Soul and it follows the journey of Joe Gardner (voiced by Jamie Foxx), a music teacher who after an accident reverts back to his soul state. Proving that representation is necessary, the film went on to win Best Animated Feature.

10. All that glitters is not gold but Emerald

Director, writer, actress and producer Emerald Fennell wins at the Oscars
[Image Description: Triple Oscar nominee, Emerald Fennell celebrating her first Oscar win for Best Orignal Screenplay.] Via The Academy.

Having appeared on Call The Midwife and the latest season of The Crown, it is Emerald Fennell’s behind-the-scenes work that has garnered all the Academy’s attention.

Fennell’s feature film debut, Promising Young Woman, showcased Fennell’s talent as she wrote, produced, directed, and even made a cameo in the film. She was nominated in three categories, Best Picture (as a producer), Best Director (becoming the first British woman to receive the recognition), and Best Original Screenplay, which she won. She became the first woman to win in that category since 2008.

While a lot of firsts occurred at the 93rd Academy Awards, these firsts will continue to be seen as groundbreaking until the under-represented are provided equity, in front of and behind the cameras. There is still more ground to be broken in terms of diversity and inclusivity, not only in film but within the academy. Let’s hope that the Academy can continue this upward trajectory in years to come!

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Gender-fluid fashion was the real winner at the Academy Awards

Men’s red carpet looks are often boring. Everyone wears the same black tux. Women, on the other hand, bring glamour and beauty to award ceremonies but are often reduced to just those attributes. As #AskHerMore showed us a couple of years ago, famous women would like questions to be different from ‘who are you wearing today?’

These discrepancies bring to light the central problem of fashion: why are men and women’s clothing choices so different? Fashion is political. Feminist critiques of clothes would point out that women’s dresses put aesthetics above function or mobility, while men’s clothing is designed with purpose and not ‘prettiness’ in mind. These questions—of gendered clothing, sexual politics, and the like—have existed in fashion for a long time.

In the 1960s – 1970s, as gender relations in the first world shifted, gender-fluid or androgynous fashion made its mark on the runway. ‘Modern’ women preferred practical clothing but the neutral fashion produced during this era often just put women in masculine clothes without changing men’s fashion. Now – after many decades – gender-fluid clothing has made a fierce comeback in the past few years. Recently, designers at prominent fashion shows have made clothing that can fit either sex and both male and female designs have evolved.

We live in an era with shifting ideas of gender expression, identity, and equality and fashion are changing dramatically. This year’s Oscars were no exception. Here are the seven best gender-fluid fashion looks from the Academy Awards red carpet.

1. Billy Porter

[image description: Billy Porter, a tall black man, poses on the Oscars red carpet in a black tuxedo gown. His hands are folded and he is staring directly into the camera] via Getty Images.
[image description: Billy Porter, a tall black man, poses on the Oscars red carpet in a black tuxedo gown. His hands are folded and he is staring directly into the camera] via Getty Images.
Billy Porter looks amazing in a black velvet tuxedo gown designed by Christian Siriano.

2. Amy Poehler

[image description: Amy Poehler, a blonde white woman, stands on the Oscars red carpet. Left hand in her pocket. She is wearing a black tux] via Getty Images.
[image description: Amy Poehler, a blonde white woman, stands on the Oscars red carpet. Left hand in her pocket. She is wearing a black tux] via Getty Images.
Actress, comedian, writer, and producer Amy Poehler wore a black tuxedo with a ruffled shirt to the Oscars and looked absolutely amazing.

3. Jason Momoa

[image description: A tall, tanned man with brown eyes, wild brown hair and a bear in a pink tux] via eonline.
[image description: A tall, tanned man with brown eyes, wild brown hair, and a bear in a pink tux] via eonline.
The star of Aquaman, Jason Momoa, wore a Fendi light pink velvet tux to the Oscars. His look was completed with a sparkly pink scrunchie tied around his right wrist. The tux was designed by the late Karl Langerfield.

4. Elsie Fisher

[image description: A blonde white woman in a three piece black tux strolls on the Red Carpet with a bag in hand] via stylecaster.
[image description: A blonde white woman in a three-piece black tux stroll on the Red Carpet with a bag in hand] via style caster. Photo by: Andrew H.Walker/BEI/REX/Shutterstock.
The 15-year old star of Eighth Grade looked amazing in a three-piece tuxedo by Thom Browne and sleek, heeled boots.

5. Awkwafina

[image description: An East Asian woman with long dark hair in a pink simmering tuxedo and a pussy bow poses on the Red Carpet] via eonline.
[image description: An East Asian woman with long dark hair in a pink simmering pantsuit and a pussy bow poses on the Red Carpet] via eonline. Credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
29-year-old Awfwafina wore a shimmering pink two-piece pantsuit with a large pink pussy bow. The ensemble was by DSquared2. The Crazy Rich Asians star paired it off with a shiny handbag.

6. Stephen James

[image description: Stephan James, a tall black man, on the Oscars red carpet in a velvet red three-piece suit with a red bow tie and white boots] via Getty Images/Allure.
[image description: Stephan James, a tall black man, on the Oscars red carpet in a velvet red three-piece suit with a red bow tie and white boots] via Getty Images/Allure.
Stephan James, star of If Beale Street Could Talk, went with a three-piece suit. But he defied convention in that the velvet suit was unapologetically red. The Etro suit looked great on him.

7. Sandy Powell

[image description: A blonde, white woman in a black and white striped suit poses with a hand on her hip on the Red Carpet] via Getty Images.
[image description: A blonde, white woman in a black and white striped suit poses with a hand on her hip on the Red Carpet] via Getty Images.
Sandy Powell, a ‘ Best Costume Design’ nominee for Mary Poppins Returns wore a very unique black and white suit with baggy pants and a long black tie.

8. Spike Lee

 [image description: a black man in a bright purple suit and hat on the Red Carpet] via Getty Images.
Spike Lee ditched traditional suit colors to don a purple two-piece designed by Ozwald Boateng and a pair of golden Jordans. The suit was a tribute to music icon Prince.

9. Diane Warren

[image description: a white woman with short dark hair and a prominent necklace in a white suit on the Red Carpet] via Steve Granitz/Getty Images.
[image description: a white woman with short dark hair and a prominent necklace in a white suit on the Red Carpet] via Steve Granitz/Getty Images.
The American songwriter arrived on the Red Carpet in a white pantsuit, white heeled boots and Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her pocket.

Press Pop Culture

Best of The Tempest 2018: 9 Stories from Pop Culture

It’s been a peculiar year in the realm of entertainment. We’ve had such big, progressive victories and such big setbacks and anachronisms in terms of representation, transparency, and inclusivity. Many LGBTQ+ artists thrived, and 2018 was dubbed 20GAYTEEN by singer Hayley Kiyoko. It was the year of Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians, and yet big name studios are still out there producing films that are imbued with racism, sexism, homophobia, and fatphobia as well as often promoting rape and hate.

We’re still light years away from consuming the egalitarian entertainment we deserve. I knew that very well when I became Pop Culture Editor at The Tempest. I understood that I would have to look closely at many media products that would make me mad, which I would rather ignore and avoid at all costs, but I gladly accepted the challenge. I believe our mission is to shed light on everything that is going on, and that includes denouncing the many injustices that occur in the entertainment industry. We can’t possibly stay silent about the things we deem wrong, because silence is complicity.

But we also don’t like to only see the glass half empty, and we love to admit that there are many things to praise and to celebrate. Without further ado, I present to you 9 of my favorite Pop Culture stories we published in 2018, a mix of the good and the bad.

1. Why are blockbuster films pretending that lesbians and bisexuals don’t exist?

Why are blockbuster films pretending that lesbians and bisexuals don’t exist?

Despite the good representation that television and the music industry gifted us with this year, blockbusters are still actively promoting the erasure of female queerness as well as employing queer bait. This is a trend that needs to stay in 2018.

2. What time is it, Hollywood?

What time is it, Hollywood?

What about what happens behind the camera? This article explores some trends of the entertainment industry from the inside out, because actresses are not the only people we need to protect. Let’s say #TimesUp to all kinds of discrimination.

3. Dislikeable female characters aren’t inherently feminist – but that’s okay

Dislikeable female characters aren’t inherently feminist – but that’s okay

There is a big misconception in fiction and in critique: that a female character who dares be different and dislikable is automatically a great feminist heroine. She’s not, and that’s okay.

4. Why I’m boycotting J.K. Rowling and her “Fantastic Beasts”

Why I’m boycotting J.K. Rowling and her “Fantastic Beasts”

We are tired of people giving J.K. Rowling a free pass for everything just because she wrote a beautiful book series 20 years ago. For a while now, she has been twisting things to appear “woke” instead of honestly admitting that as the times progressed, she also wants to be more inclusive. There is no need to say that she was planning plot twists all along when in reality the implications of that make her way more problematic. Read why in this piece!

5. Bollywood item numbers are more dangerous than we think

Bollywood item numbers are more dangerous than we think

If you don’t know what an item number is, you need to read this piece. If you do know, you need to read this piece. It’s eye-opening and I will never look at a Bollywood film the same way again.

6. This director’s approach to diverse female characters completely changed my movie-watching experience

This director’s approach to diverse female characters completely changed my movie-watching experience

Contrary to what some haters will have you believe about feminists, we do celebrate the accomplishments and achievements of men, when they deserve it. This article is a clap on the back of an Oscar-winning director for an amazing film that contributed to making 2018 better.

7. Yes, The Bold Type is unrealistic… just not for the reasons you think

Yes, The Bold Type is unrealistic… just not for the reasons you think 

You may or may not know this show, which was a true revelation for its honest representation of working (and woke!) millennial women. However, the show has been accused of portraying a utopistic world of equality (but it really doesn’t, the protagonists deal with misogyny, racism and homophobia every day). This article cleverly responds to that claim, contextualizing it particularly within the journalism world (where the main characters spend most of their time) that we know too well.

8. Karma has finally come for Chris Brown, and we can thank women for that

Karma has finally come for Chris Brown, and we can thank women for that

Abusers deserve to be held accountable for their actions. After the tidal wave that was the #MeToo movement, it’s good to see that celebrities are still being taken down after abusive behavior.

9. My mind tells me to read, but my body is overwhelmed and overworked

My mind tells me to read, but my body is overwhelmed and overworked

A constant struggle in the transition to adulthood is that we are burdened with too many responsibilities and we have too little time to do the things we actually want to do out of sheer pleasure, like reading. It does not help that books have gained a very strong competitor for our time and attention, the “monster” that are streaming services.

We’re ready to kiss 2018 goodbye. In the hope that 2019 will be a more satisfying year for women, people of color, and all oppressed minorities, happy new year from the staff of The Tempest!

Movies Pop Culture

Why does Hollywood keep rewarding predators?

Casey Affleck is a sexual predator.

Two women who have worked with Affleck have filed lawsuits against him for sexual harassment. They describe an incredibly hostile work environment, where they have alleged that Affleck and his crew brutally sexually harass them.

The women alleged that Affleck frequently spoke about his sexual exploits in front of them, talked about how much he wanted to sleep with them, and frequently suggested that they sleep with members of the crew.

According to the lawsuit, on multiple occasions, Affleck coerced them into sharing rooms with him and the crew and on one occasion one of the women awoke to find Affleck in her bed with his arms around her, reeking of alcohol.

This is the man that the Academy decided to grace with their most prestigious award. In dong so, they made it clear that they are willing to ignore his abhorrent conduct toward women because of his privilege and talent.

Hollywood has a long track record of looking the other way and handing out awards to sexual predators.

Director Roman Polanski drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl. When he was convicted he fled to Europe to escape prosecution and now lives there in luxury. Since he was convicted he’s been nominated for two Oscars and won one for “The Pianist” in 2003. Dylan Farrow has given detailed accounts of how director and actor Woody Allen sexually assaulted her when she was just a child. Woody Allen has been nominated for several Oscars and has won two since the sexual assault was made public, most recently winning in 2012.

In all these cases, the Hollywood stars faced little or no consequences for their actions, especially regarding their careers. Casey Affleck settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. His acting career was completely uninterrupted and until recently, his reputation barely suffered because the media barely covered the harassment. Roman Polanski moved, and continues to produce and direct films from Europe, which Hollywood continues to promote and applaud. Woody Allen was never even brought to court and he his work has been prolific.

Hollywood never even thought about disrupting the careers of these men, even though they’re despicable criminals.

Why does it matter that these men continue to win Oscars?

Because it tells other men that there are no consequences for harassing, assaulting, and raping women. Because it sends the message that a man’s career and his future are more important than a woman’s life and her future. And most importantly because sexual harassment, assault, and rape are all illegal and deplorable acts, which should be punished harshly regardless of the status, wealth, or fame of the perpetrator.

There is a recent example of a Hollywood star’s career suffering on an account of sexual assault, but that case reveals more layers to this complicated issue. Last summer, while Nate Parker was doing press tours for his critically acclaimed movie, “The Birth of a Nation,” the press revealed that Parker had been prosecuted for rape when he was in college in 1999. Parker had been acquitted and to this day claims that the sex was consensual, but the reports from the victim indicate otherwise.

The victim stated that she had gotten drunk with Parker and his friend Jean Celestin and gone to stay at their apartment.

She fell asleep in Parker’s bed, alone, but when she woke up Parker was having sex with her. She passed out again and when she woke up again Celestin was having sex with her. Both men claimed the sex was consensual, but it’s clear that the victim was in a state where it was impossible to give consent.

“Birth of a Nation” was highly lauded at Sundance and a clear Oscar hopeful, but it was not nominated. An Academy official even said that she wouldn’t see the film as she wouldn’t be able to separate the film, which contains a rape scene, from Parker’s murky past.

So why did Parker’s career take a hit when Affleck’s did not?

The obvious answer is that Affleck has not been accused of raping anyone. Unfortunately this country has a ‘sliding scale’ when it comes to sexually abusing women. Sexual harassment isn’t as bad as rape, so the perpetrator shouldn’t face the consequences. While it is certainly true that sexual harassment is not rape, harassment is still incredibly damaging to the women being harassed, and the perpetrators should face consequences.

Race is certainly another factor in Nate Parker’s case. When black men are accused of sexually abusing women they are dealt with more harshly, both in the courts and in the court of public opinion. The media has persistently portrayed black men as sexual predators, which impacts how black men accused of rape are perceived compared to white men accused of the same crimes.

I’m not saying that Nate Parker’s career shouldn’t have been impacted.

It should have. But Affleck’s career should have suffered as well.

The line has to be drawn.

No more Oscars for sexual predators.

Race The World Inequality

2017 Oscar nominations are historic for many, but not for all

Before this year’s Oscar nominations came out, it felt like we were collectively holding our breath. Would the nominees be as white-washed as the past two years? Would we see another year of #OscarsSoWhite?

Thankfully, this year diversity seems to have been recognized in the nominations. Movies starring, written by, and directed by people of color were phenomenal and have rightfully been recognized by the Academy. Here are just ten of the nominees that broke records for the number of nonwhite nominations.

These nominations are truly historic. Black actors were nominated in every acting category for the first time in history. Writing, directing, documentary, film-editing, Best Picture, and cinematography also have Black artists nominated, some for the first time in history!

These nominations are for an assortment of genres, spanning more topics than typical for Academy Award nominees of color: narratives of slavery and oppression. 2017 nominations saw an expansion from cliche roles and a recognition of actors from diverse casts, playing complex roles and characters. Those nominated for behind the scenes work are some of the first to be recognized in fields generally dominated by white artists.

At the SAG Awards last night, many received awards for best in their field, some for the first time. Denzel Washington, for example, finally took home a SAG Award for Best Actor for his role in Fences after years of nominations. Hidden Figures took home Best Picture and Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. The speeches had political edges to them and the audience felt electrified all night by the long overdue recognition of talent from a much more diverse pool.

But in all this excitement, it has become more obvious that while this is indeed a large step (and probably several steps) in the right direction, many still do not see their races represented or recognized by the Academy or Screen Actors Guild.

There weren’t many, or any for some, nominations for Latin American, Native American, Asian American, or Asian artists.

Outside of the acting categories, not many women were nominated. For example, there are no female directors nominated this year — or, for that fact, since 2008 when Kathryn Bigelow was the first woman to bring home the Oscar for Best Director.

Thankfully, this is not the end of the story. Promising words came from the Academy President, Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “This year, the goodness really has jumped out. What we have said all the time is this is about recognizing talent, in whatever form it comes—race, color, gender. This conversation will continue. The conversation becomes action. Action becomes fact.” Her vision for a more inclusive awards show is finally on the right track, but it seems to have far to go.

Representation in the movie industry is about more than just nominations. Opportunity and resources are not as readily available to directors, producers, screenwriters, and actors of color. This year, the pool of nominees reflected the rich contributions of African-American artists. There is still work to be done, but hopefully the widespread excitement over this year’s nominations will encourage the industry to provide more opportunities for artists of color.

For now, I am anxiously awaiting those acceptance speeches. You know they’re going to be powerful, pointed, and some literally for the history books.
Movies Pop Culture

Let’s stop pretending that Hollywood’s some kind of utopia

. To make matters worse, 2015 featured the premiers of several compelling works written, directed by, and starring actors of color. However, out of the 305 films reviewed by the Academy, only a smattering of the nominations went to non-white people (namely Alexander Gonzalez Inarritu) and not in any of the highly visible categories like directing, writing, and acting.

Where were the nods for “Straight Outta Compton”? Oh, that’s right, they went to the two white guys who wrote the screenplay. Where were the nods for “Beasts of No Nation”? Why not Idris Elba? What about Will Smith? “Creed,” both written and directed by Ryan Coogler and starring Michael B. Jordan, received a nomination – for Best Supporting Actor. For Sylvester Stallone. Face-palming pretty hard at this point.

It took us a few days of reeling to accept that had just happened. And when Jada Pinkett-Smith released her statement delineating exactly why she would not be attending the Oscars this year and encouraging other black actors and artists to do so as well, I nearly exploded with “Yes!” #OscarsSoWhite accompanying the boycott was a successful clapback at the continued, egregious marginalization of people of color in the film and entertainment industry – but a snarky dig isn’t what’s really going to help. It brings attention to the issue, but it doesn’t undo the underrepresentation.

[bctt tweet=”It brings attention to the issue, but it doesn’t undo the underrepresentation.”]

But we didn’t stop there. No, of course not. We had to hear from actress Charlotte Rampling, claiming the boycott was “racist to white people” (omg, no. no. pls don’t. do NOT.).

To make matters worse, Rampling even offered this analysis: “One can never really know, but perhaps the black actors did not deserve to make the final list.” I can’t be here for that. And of course she followed-up with the requisite non-apology – you know, the one where their words were “misinterpreted.” I’m tired of that and everyone else is, too. I can’t be here for that either. And neither should anyone else. Ever. Again. Let’s not side wind around the issue anymore, and I’m not even going to say please.

Hollywood. Is. Racist.

Just like the rest of America.

I’m not going to sit here and pretend that amongst the many years and many awards ceremonies there has been appropriate representation of highly qualified actors and artists of color and this is just an ‘Oops!’ I’m not going to sit here and pretend that amongst the thousands of productions that are churned out by the entertainment industry – both in America and abroad – there isn’t #WhitenessSoOverwhelming. The actual fact of the matter, aside from the #RacismSoObvious, is that there aren’t enough people of color being cast in roles.

[bctt tweet=”I’m not going to pretend that in the entertainment industry there isn’t #WhitenessSoOverwhelming”]

Don’t come to me with, “But they were trying to give an accurate portrayal of [insert book title or historic event here].” In filmmaking there is artistic interpretation aaaaaallll the time. I’m not going to sit here and pretend that people of color are getting cast in enough roles – and to prove my point, Joseph Fiennes was announced the very same week as the actor who will be portraying Michael Jackson in an upcoming British made-for-TV movie. Yes, Michael ‘Thriller’ Jackson. Yes, that one. Arguably one of the most famous people in history and a black man is going to be played by a white actor.

Fuck. Off. With. That.

I’m not here for the weaksauce explanation that Jackson had a condition that caused him to lose pigmentation. Because if Hollywood can do this:


Robert Downey Jr blackface

Yep. That happened.


And this:

Gods of Egypt whitewash

^historically inaccurate


And this:


^actual human

[bctt tweet=”I’m not here for the weaksauce explanation that Jackson had a condition that caused him to lose pigmentation.”]

Then these noobs sure the fuck can find a black actor suited for the role of Jackson. Get outta here. Get right out. Besides the stupendous weirdness of choosing to cast a white man to play a famous black man, the casting choice distinctly flouts Jackson’s own personal wishes.

Per a 1993 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Jackson stated that he would not want a white actor to portray him in the event of a film being made about his life. And I’m frankly disturbed at Chris Rock hosting the Oscars. Why are black people good enough to entertain but not good enough for accolades? I’m not placated by the SAG awards – it’s good, but it’s not good enough.

I can’t be here for racist Hollywood – none of us should be.


UP NEXT: We all died of happiness when Beyonce dropped Formation

Movies Pop Culture

The #OscarsSoWhite controversy goes beyond pity handouts

On a larger scale, it’s absurd to expect any sort of satisfaction in matters of representation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, but that doesn’t make the #OscarsSoWhite outrage any less valid. The Academy is well-known for being predictable and a bit obtuse (which is why terms such as “Oscar-bait” have made a place in our vocabulary).

It’s a bit ridiculous that in the year 2016 we’re still having conversations surrounding racial equality and representation in one of the world’s biggest industries. Yet, the same issue has come up again for the second year in a row— the Academy Awards are so, so white. There are no people of color nominated for acting Oscars. Not one nonwhite person has been nominated for directing, composition, cinematography, or writing. There’s a large (and vocal) handful of people who believe these nominations are solely based on merit, and nominating PoC for the sake of having PoC is a “handout” and a consequence of “the race card.”

[bctt tweet=”What truly needs to change is the way that films are made.”]

This flawed perception on racial dynamics in Hollywood could be shut down with one word: Creed. Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan’s second collaboration deserved to be recognized beyond its Best Supporting Actor nod (and to Sylvester Stallone, the prominent white man in the film), but it was criminally underlooked. There are other big-hitter PoC-led films and artists (Straight Outta Compton, Tangerine) that were a huge part of the Oscars conversation that missed out. Yet, the superficiality and ultimate emptiness of the Academy Awards makes the focus on their ballot fruitless.

Winning an Academy Award is largely symbolic, a win for the artist’s ego more than anything else. Studios love touting their wins, and it might increase a filmmaker’s chance of getting future work, but in itself, an Oscar is just a trophy. Halle Berry’s 2002 win for Monster’s Ball— which made her the only woman of color to have won for Best Actress to date— was supposed to be symbolic for the advancement of Black actresses in Hollywood. However, the Academy has yet to award another Black actress the trophy, and the past two years have failed to even nominate one.

[bctt tweet=”Winning an Academy Award is largely symbolic.”]

The problem with symbols like this, though, is that they are exactly that. Halle Berry’s win didn’t change anything about the presence of WoC actresses in mainstream films. The overwhelming whiteness doesn’t begin and end at the Oscars— they are the most high-profile film awards we have in the United States, but their whiteness is indicative of Hollywood’s race problem.

Most people angry about the issue understand this, and the outrage over the homogeneity of the nominations is understandable. For the casual moviegoer (and it’s important to remember that this is most people), the Academy Awards define the best of the bunch, and the fact that zero filmmakers of PoC were nominated reinforces negative notions about PoC filmmakers. To those who take the Academy Awards seriously, films by PoC are either niche (the way indie or genre films are, and thus ignored by the Oscars), or they aren’t worth major recognition. This is harmful in itself.

[bctt tweet=”Here’s the truth: the Academy Awards are so, so white.”]

People are circulating the widely reported statistic that Oscar voters are 94% white, 76% male, and average 63 years of age, then it’s clear that something needs to change within the institution of the AMPAS. However, that shift would be only the first step; what truly needs to change is the way that films are made.

That means hiring more PoC, more women, more LGBTQ artists, and greenlighting the stories that they champion. That means understanding that it’s not #OscarsSoWhite once a year, but rather that #HollywoodSoWhite every single day. And it’s going to take a lot more than a yearly self-congratulatory awards ceremony to rectify that.