And the Winner Is...

February 28, 2018 McKenzie Pickett

Insights from The Opportunity Agenda

After last year’s debacle following the ‘La La Land' vs. ‘Moonlight’ mix up and before that #OscarsSoWhite, Hollywood knows that the world is watching to see what steps are being taken to tell more diverse stories. We are smack-dab in the middle of awards season and, already, the clap-back from feminists has been real.

A photo of Hollywood actresses and activists who lead the Times Up initiative

During the Golden Globe Awards, Natalie Portman made headlines as she co-presented the award for best director to, as she pointed out, the “all male nominees.” The night started off with actresses bringing activist counterparts to the red carpet event. This showing of uniformity from powerhouse women in the film industry was meant to bring attention, and thus power, to the faces of the women standing up and breaking the silence. #MeToo creator Tarana Burke, whose hashtag built a network of sexual assault and harassment survivors, kickstarted a revolution to rid sexual assault from the workplace and has taken down powerful men across many industries, especially in Hollywood.

Actresses, actors, and activists alike wore black in solidarity for survivors of sexual harassment and abuse. Some supported the “Times Up” lapel pin to bring attention to the entertainment industry’s newly formed organization, which raises awareness about the pandemic of sexual assault that has tainted the workspace, from Hollywood to field workers, and everything in between.

With all of this in mind, we look to you, 2018 Oscars. How are you going to empower and give voice to the women who want to tell their story but feel trapped?

Weeks after the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild Awards were presented by an all-female lineup. Building off this momentum, Grammy attendees were asked to wear black and a white rose in solidarity with the feminist movement. Yet those orchestrating the night appeared to be deaf to the cultural change that was happening. Of the 86 categories, women walked away with 17 awards. When asked about this disproportionate distribution of awards and about the trending #GrammysSoMale sweeping social media, Neil Portnow, president of the Recording Academy, shifted the industrial burden of patriarchy back onto the shoulders of women saying that they need to “step up because I think they would be welcome.” For the record, this is coming from the same Grammys that did not extend a solo performance spot to the only female artist nominated for album of the year, Lorde, and that exploited one female artist who is currently trapped by the industry’s inability to hold sexual misconduct accountable, Kesha, who recently lost her legal battle with producer Dr. Luke over sexual, verbal, and emotional abuse. 

Seth Meyers, host for the 2018 Golden Globes and ally, ended his opening monologue with a supportive, feminist statement, “I look forward to you (his women counterparts) leading us to whatever comes next.”

Which begs the question, what does come next? Slowly and systematically, powerful men have been exposed for their sexual misconduct and are finally being held accountable. This is a huge win, but some people are led to ask, what’s the end goal? So, for those of you who haven’t mapped out the long-term plan, it’s this: equity and equal representation in the workplace and everywhere else.

With all of this in mind, we look to you, 2018 Oscars. How are you going to empower and give voice to the women who want to tell their story but feel trapped? How are you going to shed light on industrial power structures that protect sexual predators over survivors, like the women working for the Ford Motor Company in Chicago, or on people struggling to make ends meet, who can’t afford to be fired or shamed out of a job?

The social change around sexual harassment is evolving for the better. The toxicity behind unbalanced power structures are being exposed and toppled to make way for a new era of equity for people of all ages, races, genders, abilities, and sexual orientation. Now is the moment that we lock arms to support each other as we take the next step forward together. We have marched in the streets, run for office, and started to stand up and be heard about sexual assault. Now is the time to bring it home in the creation of long-lasting cultural change. You’re up, 2018 Oscars. See you on March 4th.