The Oscars and Hollywood have a long-standing reputation of being unequal in terms of representation of women, the LGBTQ community, people of color, and basically everyone that isn’t a straight white dude. This isn’t just the actors and actresses, but the writers, directors, producers, cinematographers, and legit everyone else that works on a movie. There have been so many steps made, from baby steps of having nonwhite presenters to larger steps like Jordan Peele being the first African American to win the Oscar for the Best Original Screenplay for Get Out. Although we are only in the front half of the journey, the 90th Oscars were POPPIN with representation. I have never really enjoyed award shows, and I never knew why until very recently. I didn’t like them because they have been exclusively for straight white men. There weren’t female’s winning categories other than Best Actress and Supporting Actress, and there weren’t POC winning. Not only were these demographics not winning, they weren’t making movies. Their stories, our stories, weren’t being told. Today it’s different. Movies like Get Out, A Fantastic Woman, Coco, Lady Bird, Call Me By Your Name, and so many others were nominated for their casts, their directors, their writers, and everything in between. I didn’t watch the full Oscars, I started them late, but here are some of my favorite inclusive moments from the show. There were so many other moments that stood out, but these were the ones that struck a chord with me.
The Representation Montage
Not a single white male is featured in this montage. It features women, both white and of color, men of color, and LGBTQ individuals. The individuals in the video discuss why representation is important and why it is necessary. Kumail Nanjiani had my favorite quote. He said “Some of my favorite movies are by straight white dudes, about straight white dudes. Now straight white dudes can watch movies starring me and you relate to that, it’s not that hard. I’ve done it my whole life.” If little black boys, and latina girls, and gay kids, and everyone else can watch, and love, movies about white dudes and heterosexual love stories, then straight dudes and white people can watch, and love, movies about POC and LGBTQ men and women. That’s why movies like Black Panther and Wonder Women are so important. Barry Jenkins said, about Wonder Woman, “this is what white men feel all the time, and all these women are having this experience for the first time. I imagine this is going to be the same thing when people go and see Black Panther.” These movies aren’t just for little kids to see themselves represented, it’s for full-blown adults to see themselves represented.
Jordan Peele Winning Best Original Screenplay
I haven’t seen Get Out, and I don’t think I will for personal reasons, but that is besides that point. I understand how important this movie is for African Americans without even having seen it. In 90 years of the Oscars, not a single African American has won for Best Original Screenplay, and for Jordan Peele to win it for this movie makes it that much sweeter. You could tell as Peele walked off stage that he was shocked, he wasn’t the front-runner at all, but it was so well deserved. When he accepted the Oscar, he said that he stopped writing this movie TWENTY times, not only does this give writers the courage to keep on writing, but it gives African American writers the courage to tell their stories. Also, Keegan Michael Key’s reaction to Peele winning was the BEST thing in the world. Get you friends that are just as excited about your success as their own.
Coco winning Best Animated Feature
I also haven’t seen this movie, but it’s on my watch list after Sunday. Everyone’s reaction to the win was part of what made this so special. Oscar Isaac was presenting the award and when he opened the envelope he was literally radiating joy and he yelled “¡VIVA LATINOAMÉRICA!” with so much pride.When the cast was on stage for the win, the little boy that voices Miguel thanked everyone in Spanish, and also exclaimed “¡Viva México!” As the camera panned the audience you could see how happy every single latinx was in the audience. The reaction from the internet was even better, Mexican American’s were so happy to see a movie about something so important to their culture win. I saw a tweet that said, “As a little Mexican kid with a guitar, this movie means the world to me.” BUT guess what. IT GETS BETTER! Not only was this a move about POC, but the film’s producer thanked her wife in her acceptance speech! A movie about Mexico, with Mexican and latinx voice actors and crew, produced by an LGBTQ woman, it doesn’t get much better than folks. This win goes to show how important representation is. Mexican Americans and Mexicans were applauding the film for so perfectly capturing something so prominent in their culture, something that white people tend to so incorrectly talk about and appropriate.
Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph
If you haven’t watched a single video in this post, you need to you need to watch this one. Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph are HILARIOUS. Tiffany Haddish is laugh out loud funny at all points in time, and Maya Rudolph is gut busting funny, they make for the PERFECT combo. Their presentation revolved around how the Oscars used to be “too white” and how people might be thinking “are the Oscars too black?” They put a funny spin on the fact that the Oscars still have so far to go in terms of inclusion and diversity. Although it was hilarious, there was truth to the statements. Diversity doesn’t just mean the awards given out, or the presenters, it means the staff too.
The Silent Child winning Best Live Action Short Film
I haven’t seen this movie (have you noticed that this is becoming a running trend???? I don’t watch movies, sorry). I didn’t hear anything about this movie. Everything I know about this movie is from the montage that played when they announced the nominees and what I looked at on IMDB after the fact. The short is about a deaf little girl learning how to communicate (according to IMDB at least). When the directors accepted the award, Rachel Shenton signed her acceptance speech in tandem with speaking it, saying that she promised the 6-year-old lead that she would sign if they won. She noted how deafness is a silent and invisible disability that people often overlook. People like Nyle Dimarco, the winner of cycle 22 of America’s Next Top Model and someone who was born deaf, commended her for her inclusion. Inclusion doesn’t just mean looks, religion, or sexuality, but disabilities and anyone that is different. There are over 7.6 billion people in the world, and not a single one of us is exactly the same, and it is time that we start showcasing that in media.
Frances McDormand having all the female nominees stand
I’m not entirely sure how I didn’t ball my eyes out when this happened because rewatching the video had me crying in the club. She started her speech by referencing Chloe Kim, the Olympic snowboarder, which made me smile because referencing other women is always a pro. She thanked who she needed to thank, and then she asked all of the female nominees to stand. She said, “Meryl [Streep] if you do it, everybody else will,” which is true AF because Meryl is queen Hollywood. While everyone was standing, it was clear that the females were the minority, but they are still important. McDormand said, “we all have stories to tell and projects we need to be financed, don’t talk to us at the parties tonight, ask us into your offices, or come to ours.” This brought up the fact that these ideas and projects are just as serious as anyone else’s, and have just as much of a right to be heard and written and produced as any man’s. McDormand then left us with two simple words “Inclusion Rider.” I had no idea what this meant, so I took to Google, and apparently so did everyone else. Sunday night, after the Oscars, Google searches for Inclusion Rider went up 100 (no idea what that means, there was a little graph that said that, but there was a very high spike is my point). Anyways, an Inclusion Rider is basically a stipulation that can be added to an Actor or Actresses contract that states that there needs to be a certain level of diversity among a film’s cast AND crew. This includes diversity based on gender, sexual orientation, race or ethnicity, disabilities, etc. Actors and Actresses can ask, or demand (this is literally what the article said) to have these clauses put into place. It is very rarely talked about, and McDormand said that she had just found out about it earlier in the week, but now that she knows she will not let it go, and the rest of Hollywood should not either.