The biggest night in film is almost here, the Academy Awards otherwise known as the Oscars is this upcoming Sunday. But unlike every other award show this season, the 90th Academy Awards won’t be having a #MeToo or #TimesUp protest.
It seems appropriate for the Academy Awards to stage a protest or sign of solidarity considering both of these movements stemmed from Harvey Weinstein’s abusive behavior being exposed. Weinstein was a prominent producer on the Academy’s Board and within Hollywood.
But the Oscars, arguably the biggest award show of the bunch, won’t be endorsing a protest or organizing anything in solidarity. According to The New York Times, they want to focus on the films and not current culture. “We want to make it as entertaining as possible — reverential and respectful but also fun and emotional,” said Jennifer Todd, one of the lead producers of the Academy Awards, to the NYT.
The Academy’s decision to ignore these movements that started because of the industry they’re celebrating is fitting. For so long abuse of power was fostered by turning a blind eye and that’s what the Academy is doing.
They did expel Weinstein from the Academy’s Board. He’s the second person to ever be expelled in the organization’s 90-year history, which is huge, but there are many other known predators who are still part of the prestigious film board like Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski.
In the Academy’s press statement about his expulsion, they say they hope his expulsion “send a message that the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over.”
It’s ironic that now they want to ignore the cultural climate despite all of their statements condoning sexual abuse, predatory behavior and workplace harassment.
Channing Dungey, president of entertainment at ABC, which broadcasts the awards, chimed in on the Academy’s stance. “We certainly want to honor and respect Time’s Up and allow that message to be heard,” Ms. Dungey said to NYT. “But we’re trying to make it more planned than spur of the moment — it has its moment and then doesn’t feel like it overshadows the artists and films being honored.”
Dungey added, “I would love for every award recipient to not feel like they have to acknowledge [Time’s Up] independently.”
Yes, the Academy Awards are to celebrate cinematic achievements but to ignore the movements that have shaken the industry to its core is tone deaf at best. Since Weinstein’s outing, many other prominent Hollywood figures have been exposed for their abusive behavior, like Kevin Spacey, Brett Ratner and Louis CK.
To ignore how the landscape of Hollywood is changing at the awards that are supposed to celebrate and acknowledge the industries changes doesn’t feel right. Me Too and Time’s Up are tightly interwoven in the industry.
Winners and presenters can still talk about the movements, it is a live award show after all, but the show itself won’t be acknowledging Time’s Up or Me Too.
One day, hopefully in the near future, these movements will be so embedded into the film industry the Academy won’t be able to ignore them.