The Oscar reviews have mostly come and gone but I had to wait until Friday to put in my two cents and honestly, although it was a busy week, I couldn't wait. I found this years Oscars to be the most female-focused and female-positive that I've ever watched, right down to the commercials. In fact, I could only find one thing from the Oscars (relating to women, specifically) to include in bad news and believe me, I looked. So this week, we are heavily weighted with good news in feminism from the Oscars!
Bad news in feminism:
The day after the Oscars I watched the Oscar fashion reviews (yes I watched them - it was research!). I was immediately irritated that the commentators called women wearing pants (Amy Poehler, Melissa McCarthy and Awkwafina - who all looked stunning), "gender-bending." I thought to myself, why/how is it considered gender-bending for women to wear pants? Women can wear pants. I wear pants nearly every single day. Every woman I know wears pants. But then I realized that they were putting them in the same category as Billy Porter, who showed up to the Oscars in a beautiful tuxedo ballgown. Let me rephrase. He didn't just show up to the Oscars, he owned the red carpet at the Oscars. Tuxedo on the top, gorgeous black velvet, flowing gown on the bottom. And he looked magnificent. I thought to myself that his attire was gender-bending. But how fair is that thought? To answer my own question I had to look at the Oscars event in particular and gaze upon the sea of women wearing gowns. Only a handful of women stood out who were wearing pants. And I felt so comfortable with their pants. But how would I feel if my own husband were wearing a beautiful tuxedo gown? Well he would never be that daring but if he were, I would 100% need to learn to love it, just as I looooved Billy Porter's gown (granted my husband wouldn't look quite like Billy Porter in it but you get my point - sorry, honey). Gender barriers need to be broken in every direction and every good feminist believes in equality for all, right? I don't believe it is gender-bending for women to wear pants, and the same should be true for men wearing ball gowns. We all just want to feel fabulous in our moment, whatever that might look like for each one of us. So thank you to Billy Porter for making me, and everyone else who saw you in all of your fashion gloriousness, take a closer look at gender equality. What just took me an entire paragraph to say, Glenn Close says in a ten second, speechless moment captured on twitter where she first gazes upon Billy Porter, takes it all in, and lands on absolute approval. Enjoy. (Captured by @jamiebgolden)
Good news in feminism:
Things you probably never expected to hear at the Oscars: "I'm not crying because I'm on my period or anything," "I can't believe a film about menstruation just won an Oscar!," To the women of Kathikera (a rural Indian village) know that you are empowering women all over the world to fight for menstrual equality," A period should end a sentence, not a girl's education." These fabulous quotes were made by Rayka Zehtabchi (also the first Iranian American to win for directing) and Melissa Berton in their acceptance speeches for Documentary, Short Subject for their film, Period. End of Sentence. I watched the documentary on Netflix this week and I think it is an important piece of work to be shared with our children of all genders. I was thrilled to see it came up automatically on-screen as the first item on Netflix that other people are watching. Winning an Oscar clearly matters and I am thrilled it is bringing much-needed attention to a previously taboo topic!
Bao won an Oscar for Best Animated Short. It has become a trademark of Pixar films to air a short prior to the main film, and Bao aired prior to The Incredibles 2. It was directed by Chinese-Canadian animator Domee Shi and produced by Becky Neiman-Cobb. Interestingly, it is the first Pixar short that was directed by a woman and Shi began at Pixar as an intern only seven years ago. I watched Bao today so I could write about it. It is short (ya I know) but beautifully done. It captures the essence of a mother's love and the difficulties of letting go through a little Chinese dumpling. Shi based the short on her own mother and childhood experiences and it shows. It is rich in culture, heartfelt, and something every mother of a child who is or has moved into adulthood can relate to.
For The Black Panther, two African American women won for their behind-the-scenes work: Ruth E. Carter for Best Costume Design and Hannah Beachler for Best Production Design. Carter was the first black woman in history to win for Best Costume Design. She said in her acceptance speech, “Marvel may have created the first black superhero, but through costume design, we turned him into an African king...It’s been my life’s honor to create costumes. Thank you to the Academy, and thank you for honoring African royalty and the empowered way women can look and lead on screen.” Hannah Beachler is the first African American woman to be nominated for Best Production Design and she also had a powerful speech. She said, "I stand here stronger than I was yesterday...I give this strength to all of those who come next. To keep going. To never give up. And when you think it is impossible just remember to say this piece of advice I got from a very wise woman: I did my best and my best is good enough."
I felt like some of the Oscar commercials were Super Bowl watch-worthy and I refused to fast forward through them. The Nike "Dream Crazier" commercial was one of the best I've seen. Please have your girls watch it. Narrated by the phenomenal Serena Williams, it touches upon so many of the issues that I often speak about here and more, but all through the lens of women's sports. In the words of Serena Williams, "They want to call you crazy? Fine. Show them what crazy can do." Please. Show them.
Do you need more? I'll wrap up with Lady Gaga. I could watch her passionate performance of Shallow with Bradley Cooper all night long but it was her acceptance speech for Best Original Song that really speaks to our kids. "If you have a dream, fight for it. This is not about winning. This is about not giving up...and it's not about how many times you get rejected or beaten up or you fall down. It's about how many times you stand up and are brave and you keep on going." Yes!
Good movies bring us together, they help us understand the world from another perspective, they provide escape, and they fill our hearts with joy, sadness or compassion. It was inspiring to see the female artists who bring us these movies speak about their wisdom gained, their passion, commitment, and strengths. It was inspiring to see women being included in these conversations. Because you can't be what you can't see. (Quote by Marion Wright Edelman)
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