The Roles That Win Oscars: Women vs Men
I saw these pics in an article (here), which commented on these articles (here and here), and, aside from my strange love for infographics, I just thought I’d share these and some thoughts.
First off, I think the category titles are a little skewed to begin with, which is probably why Ms. Hugel is so critical of the comparison between men and women in the first place. If The Huffington Post actually paralleled their categories, there would be a “Husband, Father, Brother, Son, or Boyfriend;” after all, they carried over ones like “Villain,” “Historical,” and “Career Achievement.” But then again when you think about it, most characters have “relationship[s] to the other characters on screen;” almost everyone is either a wife/husband/mother/father/boyfriend/girlfriend/etc as part of their role. I followed a link Ms. Hugel quotes from an article (here) by Ms. Halper who comments on that very idea of traditional female roles. However, Ms. Hugel and Ms. Halper seem to be under the impression that “The Academy” is behind this data, completely over-looking the fact that a Ms. Jan Diehm of The Huffington Post made this infograph and that she could have her own motivations for categorising as she did. Data is presented however we want to persuade our readers to see it - there is always a side of the information we don’t see. Now I don’t particularly care for the Oscars or see the films just because they were Oscar-nominated/-awarded, but of these Best Actresses movies that I have seen, I’d like to point out Sandra Bullock in “The Blind Side” (which is a great movie by the way and she did a phenomenal job). While she is listed under “Historical” because her character, Leigh Anne Tuohy, is a real person, she could just as easily fall under that “Wife/Mother/…” category because that’s really what is highlighted in this movie - her role as an adoptive mother to Michael Oher.
Mss. Hugel and Halper, when did it become offensive for an actress to win an award for her outstanding performance as a character who happens to be wife/mother/etc? “The Academy” doesn’t hand out awards based on what occupations/roles the characters have, the actresses earn them because they did a pretty damn-well job portraying their characters. If you hadn’t noticed, real-live wives, mothers, villains, prostitutes, and housekeepers don’t get awards for what they do. Don’t like that? Force them to go on strike, force them to go into those “Law or Military” and “Career Achievement” jobs you think have a greater value than being a wife/mother/whatever-else-you-don’t-like. Don’t get me wrong - I’m all for women becoming empowered and rising to a level equal to that of what they think men have (I say that because not all men are equal), but I don’t like how some do it by criticising roles they deem “submissive or domestic.” For being a “feminist,” how feminist can you be when you criticise women who actively choose to be wives/mothers/other-occupations-you-deem-unworthy? As a gay man, I can’t wait for the day I become a husband/father and I would be just as content letting my future husband go out into the world and do whatever job he does (I often imagine myself being that stay-at-home parent because I disagree with multiple points in the education and employment process in America), but I’d be damned if I’d let someone call me submissive or domestic. These stay-at-home roles are deemed less worthy because you make them out to be so; no one is asking you to judge how others live their lives so stop trying to bring down “misogyny” by bringing down what you think are the stereotypical images of women under the banner of “feminism.” It’s easy to criticise Barbie when you weigh a little more than you’d like and trash other women who actually have managed to get (or just naturally have) that barbie doll-like figure (if I were a woman, I’d probably get attacked because I’m naturally skinny [whether I want to be or not]). I’d think it’d probably be just as easy to criticise the stay-at-home women who choose to stay at home when you feel you don’t have as much power in the “patriarchal” society as you’d like to have. Yet, you undermine your own cause when you do so, probably creating new enemies where you wanted to change minds.
Stop quibbling over how other women are doing everything all wrong, how men are keeping you sequestered in roles you don’t agree with, and how the next generation is learning all these erroneous gender dynamics and go out and be the example you want to be. You want women to be lawyers and military officers? Go become one and then earn your way into role model status. You want actresses to portray better characters in future, potentially Oscar-nominated films? Go write the powerful script featuring an empowered female character and bring it to Hollywood. You want to be a woman with a better standing in society? Just go do it. I’m sure Vivien Leigh was proud of her Oscar-winning performances in “Gone With the Wind” and “A Streetcar Named Desire,” Julie Andrews for “Mary Poppins,” or Jennifer Lawrence for “Silver Linings Playbook” so don’t undercut all the hard work and dedication actresses put into their roles by claiming “The Academy” hands out awards to any woman who plays a wife or a prostitute or a maid. They set out to be actresses and they are doing damn well with that without your commentary.
The irony of meta-commentary is not lost on me, but “feminist” bloggers are gonna blog no matter what I blog. These are just my thoughts.