Let us take as a given that most (all?) awards for excellence in the entertainment industry are irredeemably political. The issuance of awards as well as the events during which such awards are given and announced are deeply affected by how the public will react—often from the standpoint of how such awards will affect ratings and thus, income. This also assumes that “political” and “income” are inseparably intwined.
Into this inject gender politics. The Academy Awards (the Oscars) is 82 this year (give or take the few years when no awards show was held or when multiples were held) and shows all the racism, homophobia, and sexism one would expect from an institution so old. The first African American man to win best actor did so in 1963, in the midst of all the social changes around race that the country was undergoing at the time. The first African American woman to win best actress did not do so until 2002. This may say as much about casting decisions as the white privilege inherent in the Academy.
A few stories have come to my attention in the last few days about sexism in the Academy which I believe are worth reading and mulling over the implications of:
Film and television are both a medium of social change (see: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? and, arguably, shows like Will and Grace) and a means of reinforcing the status quo (see: Every Disney Movie Ever Made). “Hollywood” as a monolith, as an industry, as a force of nature, is frequently decried as being horribly liberal and undermining the morals of Real America. But I have often found that it is much more of a conservative force than it or Real America would like to admit.