Award Winning Women (or not?): A look into how the media at large still underappreciates women in award categories.

Women have been underrepresented and overlooked in Hollywood since the dawn of the entertainment business, and sadly, it seems the trend has continued. The Oscars in particular have repeatedly let women and minority groups down year after year. The 2020 nominations were no exception, as no women were considered for the best director category.

Many are especially enraged in light of the many successful films directed by women this year, including Greta Gerwig’s Little Women, Melina Matsoukas’ Queen and Slim, and Lorene Scafaria’s Hustlers. Much like the Oscars, women were also excluded from the best director category at the Golden Globes.

These nominations come five years after #OscarsSoWhite, a hashtag that called out the Academy show for its, at the time, 92% white and 75% male membership. The statistics have evened out a bit over the years, with members now coming in at 84% white and 68% male, but the hashtag continues to prove its relevance. Cynthia Eviro was the only nominee of color for best actor or best actress because of her performance in Harriet. Overall though, the Oscars remained oh so white.

Awards like the Oscars or the Golden Globes are not trivial trophies, though. It may seem meaningless to advocate for equality in an awards show, but the issue runs much deeper. Historically, award shows have served to highlight the stories most important to our culture at any given time period. By excluding women and people of color, award shows effectively discredit their stories. By not nominating women for best director, viewers may unintentionally believe that women do not make good directors. The same goes for an almost entirely white nominee list for best actor and actress. In an era where these stories are increasingly in demand, why wouldn’t award shows call them what they are, which is glimpses of life in 2019’s America.

The tragic answer is that even today, American culture is trying to erase the stories of women and people of color. Hollywood talks a big game about equality and social change, and yet, the voices of white men are still favored over all others.

When the media we celebrate only reflects one kind of perspective, movie-watchers only get to see the world through one lens. Women do not see the world or themselves through the eyes of someone like them. Instead, they only get to see themselves portrayed through the perspective of someone who will never understand what it feels like to be a woman in the world.

The same goes for people of color. When movies directed by white people are the only ones that garner awards, people of color are denied the opportunity to see the world as they experience it reflected on-screen. Instead, their voices continue to go unappreciated, and they continue to watch movies focused on a world unlike what they have experienced.

Women and people of color have intricate, meaningful and relatable stories to tell. Their work and their films are worth Hollywood’s appreciation and viewers’ attention. Those who create these pieces of art deserve to be awarded at the highest level, as well as be canonized in movie history.

Sources: NY Times, Variety

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