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I was not planning on writing this post at all. I posted my thoughts on the Oscar snubs and figured that was that, but then a debate sparked in the comment section about the Selma snubs and the misogyny vs. racism that exists in the Academy, and I went to give my two cents, intended entirely to be just that...two cents...and I wound up writing a dollar or so and the little comment box at the bottom of my post kept telling me that my comment was too long...so here it is (I'm not altering this from my original comment form):
So, I was away from my computer all weekend, but kept checking my phone and every time I did there was a new comment on the above conversation and I thought 'should I chime in' but before I could, another came and so I decided to just wait until it was done.
I'm not sure if it's done, but I'll chime in...a little.
I think that there is both racism and misogyny going on with the Academy (because, that really is what this conversation should be about, right? The Academy?). Oddly, while it's brought up a lot, I don't think that the racism is the strongest prejudice here. I do agree with Sati that misogyny as a whole is a real problem with Oscar. It's almost like, unless you are in a specific category FOR your gender or you are competing in a category dominated by your gender (costume design, for example) then we don't want to be bothered with you.
In all honesty, despite what so many want to make the Selma snub out to be...I think it speaks more to a misogynistic attitude than a racist one. Ava DuVernay's snub in the director’s seat, while possibly undeserving (because, well, I haven't seen the movie and the thoughts on it and her approach are varied) speaks more to misogyny than racism, in my eyes. In fact, the Selma situation as a whole feels more like reverse racism in a way.
This was touched on last year, with the 12 Years a Slave Oscar wins, but that film and Selma, all year, were toted as these SUPER IMPORTANT OSCAR FILMS ABOUT THE BLACK STRUGGLE, and because of that, it created this overwhelming feeling of REWARD US OR BE DEEMED RACIST, especially last year. I mean, I'm not making it up, it became a thing, and the closer it got to Oscar night and the stronger other contenders looked (named Gravity and American Hustle) the more bloggers and critics and Oscar watchers were getting their "Oscar confirms racism" headlines ready for their morning after articles on the Oscar wins. Now, I didn't think that 12 Years a Slave was a great movie, but it was a fine movie within the terms of 'Oscar winner', and I have no problem with it's win because it isn't a bad film (unlike this year's likely winner), but what I take issue with is WHY it won. When you shake down the night, Gravity won EVERYTHING. It was the best shot, best edited, best scored, best sounding, best directed film of the year...and yet it lost Best Picture to a film that only picked up a Screenplay win (which was the source of a lot of controversy) and a Supporting Actress win, and it didn't even take that in a walk. 12 Years a Slave won the Best Picture Oscar because it had to, or the backlash would have been HUGE.
I feel like, in many ways, Selma's Best Picture nomination is the same. Here is a film that they clearly just didn't like that much. You can try and make this about late screeners, and that may have been the case with some of the Guilds, because screeners MATTER, but Academy members have had this in their hands for weeks prior to ballots being due and so if they loved this, felt it was important or felt it had that kind of merit, they would have voted for it in more categories than Best Picture and Original Song. It's the Original Song nomination that says it all. This isn't The Blind Side...one of those cheap, everyone knows is mediocre type film that can snag that BP nom on a single Acting nomination and make sense. Selma getting BP and Original Song and NOTHING else makes no sense, for the type of film that it is.
All year long though, Selma has kind of felt like that film people feel they need to honor BECAUSE of what they're being told about it. If you don't believe me, just click on the tag '2014 Road to Oscar' and peruse the critics’ awards and awards bodies and see how many times Selma got in for either a sole ensemble nom, a sole BP nom (in a field of 6, where ever other category had 5) or how the NBR couldn't recognize it in their Top Ten and yet gave it one of those sidelined awards for 'courage' or some shit like that. Selma had the unfortunate privilege of being the 'important black movie you need to vote for' that immediately followed that other 'important black movie you need to vote for', and AMPAS kind of passed.
The Best Picture nomination feels like an insult, to be honest. LOOK, we nominated you...but as you can tell, we don't really think you deserve it. It's pretty clear right now that Selma is dead last in the BP race, which is not what anyone thought a few months ago.
I don't think the snubs show racism...I think the nomination shows a FEAR of being perceived as racist.
But, I wholly agree that racism is an issue with AMPAS, I just think that this year, misogyny is much stronger an issue.
I think that the strongest sign of racism in the Academy is the fact that, and I've kind of mentioned this before (and even had that 'recastathon' because of it), AMPAS will only recognize a black film if it is historically important. But, this says a lot more about Hollywood as a whole, which is awfully racist. I'd say that Hollywood is more racist than the Academy, and the Academy is more misogynistic than Hollywood. Say what you will about 'the lack of great roles for women', but honestly, last year was a BOUNTY of incredible roles for women...a BOUNTY! The narrow-mindedness of AMPAS and awards bodies as a whole shows their misogyny. The roles/performances were there, but they were all ignored for a lot of the same/expected.
But I've rambled and said more than I initially intended and, because of this little box I'm not even sure if what I said is cohesive, but whatever...they are my thoughts on the matter. I think you are BOTH right, sort of...