Well, now that I’ve thoroughly dressed down some famous ladies for not looking pretty enough at the Oscars, I’d like to take a minute to complain about misogyny at the Oscars! Let me just turn off this hypocrisy siren….
My first Feminist Sigh came during the program. As part of Hollywood’s continuing plea to get people to pay to watch movies, they ran a (long-ish) segment just sort of…praising movies? Controversial stuff. Famous people waxed poetic about their thoughts and feelings on film. And of the (estimated) 20 speakers, 2 of them were women. Ladies get pretty equal time onstage at the Oscars, tromping around with heels, and cleavage, and trumpet skirts, but when it comes to sharing unscripted opinions, speaking directly and using their brains? Less so.
While researching my Red Carpet post, I stumbled on this video examining the Best Picture nominees and whether or not they pass the Bechdel Test:
She notes that only two of the nominees fully pass the test (The Descendants and The Help) while two more sort of pass, in that there is a scene where two named women speak to each other, but it is for less than 30 seconds each and has no relevance to the plot (Midnight in Paris and Hugo).
I am disappointed, yet not surprised.
I am, in particular, disappointed in Martin Scorsese. Affable, talented, unassuming Marty. Who could be mad at him? Me. I am mad at Marty Scorsese.
There are so many excuses people give as to why films fail the Bechdel Test. It’s a movie about baseball! They say. Or war. (Yet no one questions why so, so many war and baseball stories dominate the fiction landscape. But I digress.) Conventions! They say. We had to get the movie made, and the Execs–they want leading men!
Hugo is set in a train station, not the beaches of Normandy. Martin Scorsese can get movies made. He has the clout to say “no, this movie has to have more than a token female presence. It is important in a world that is 51% female to show even a close to equitable female presence in my story.” But he tells the same story of a plucky white boy that has been told countless times. This time in 3D!
Why should he care? Why shouldn’t he tell the stories that resonate with him?
Because he brought his granddaughter to the Oscars. Scorsese has the power to actually make a dent in the cultural landscape, changing it for the better so that when that little girl grows up, she can tell stories, too. Yes, I think it is his responsibility to help make that world. I think it is his responsibility to be cognizant of the effect his work has on the world. As a creator of culture at the top of his field, yes, he must consider the Bechdel test. Yes, he should consider the racial make up of his cast and whether its over-whelming whiteness might be a symptom of ingrained racism. When you lead the kind of charmed life Marty leads, you owe something to the universe.