This year, I promised myself that I would post in this space once per month. The bad news (to self) is that I’ve already failed at that goal. The good news is that I have posted more this year than I did last year. So, if that goal was the moon, I feel like I am floating among the stars. (Yay me!)
Speaking of broken promises… Another year, another Academy Awards ceremony that illuminates the racial / ethnic / gender disparities in Hollywood. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the 95th show. I watched with friends and laughed and cheered and wept with both love and lamentation. Per my usual, I diligently posted congratulatory messages to all of the winners on my IG and FB pages. I won the Oscar pool at work, guessing 17 wins of the 23 categories correctly. (If you don’t know, now you know… I study well.)
The show was satisfactorily uneventful and, as a creative, soul-satisfying to some degree. The speeches made by so many first-time winners felt like they were delivered specifically and intentionally to me. Dream big. Dream bigger. Keep going. I lost water weight in tears that night and, like many, found my greatest disappointment in Angela Bassett‘s loss. And, to be absolutely clear, this is not to say that Jamie Lee Curtis’s performance was unworthy of the win. It is merely an acknowledgment of my heartbreak and the culmination of years of disenchanting losses. With the overhaul and BIPOC additions to the voting Academy membership, like many, I had hoped that the discerning eyes would see what many of us saw in Ms. Bassett’s performance. This loss reminded me that the subjectivity in all of this is inherently biased.
In the earliest days of my venture into screenwriting, I blogged film reviews which initiated an early onset of imposter syndrome. I mean, who was I to endorse or censure anybody’s inspired art or engage in the whomp-whomp of the overly concerned public discourse, the knit-pickery (yeah, I said it), or the “authoritative” subjectivity of film critique? I also realized, early on, that while I could understand and connect with the human emotions of the films (and tv shows) that I was reviewing, or even those that had earned my time and attention for the majority of my viewing life, the cinematic landscape didn’t feature scenes from my own world. So, publicly, I tend to stay pretty neutral. I tend to be a cheerleader for all of those who find the time, space, resources, and connections to take the courageous journey toward producing content. That said, it’s hard to ignore the numbers. Because within those numbers is the reality that the people who are sitting at the table, making the “all-things-film (and tv)” decisions, by and large, don’t understand my world enough to acknowledge, appreciate, honor, and celebrate what excellence looks like within it. Hence, Angela Bassett’s loss… again.
The numbers are abysmal. If you haven’t already, read the following:
- Deadline’s UCLA’s Hollywood Diversity Report Documents “Enormous Gains” By Women & People Of Color, But Latinx Representation Still Lags;
- the Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media’s Representations of Black Women in Hollywood; and,
- Oscars diversity improved after #OscarsSoWhite, study shows. But glaring gaps remain.
For the underrepresented “us” whose passion for storytelling in these mediums is part and parcel of our identity, we are rooting for one another. Not because we don’t want others to win. We understand the statistical reality of what it means for our success in this business. So, we are used to defining and redefining success in livable terms. But, wouldn’t it be amazing if, from seed to screen, all of those who come to this medium could bask in the same wellspring of accomplishment. Because the alternative – to give in to the possibility that success will not find us or is somehow not truly available to us – is an artistic suicide most of us are not willing to bear. So… we write. We create. We direct. We produce. We hold the line. (See my Thank you, Ms. Lewis post.) We BELIEVE. We do it until we do it. For me, the commitment to continue forward in search of that success is a promise not worth breaking.