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Oscars So Pink

The Academy Awards are being handed out this weekend, honouring 2023’s best films, but people are still talking about the star and director of the year’s biggest, pinkest movie being left out of the nominations. With the fun and feminist Barbie nominated for Best Picture and having grossed over a billion dollars, it seems bizarre that its creators were passed over, especially when nominated co-star Ryan Gosling will be performing his ode to Ken at the ceremony.


"It's definitely not a good look that the Academy members left out Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie for directing and starring in a movie that's largely about how impressive women are often marginalized,” said Dave Karger, author of 50 Oscar Nights, to People magazine. The backlash on social media was huge. “How is this even possible?” tweeted sportscaster Julie Stewart-Binks, “Did anyone even understand the plot of the highest grossing movie of all-time?” The duo was consoled on Twitter by Hillary Clinton (who added her hashtag #HillaryBarbie) and UK critic Connor Tomlinson gloated, “Kenergy claims its final victory over Feminism.”


Okay everyone, as Weird Barbie said, “Don’t overthink it.” There was a similar outrage years ago over the ongoing lack of nominations for actors of colour. #OscarsSoWhite was the trending hashtag and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science was widely shamed. But see, that crisis was real. In the 95-year history of the Oscars, only ten Black women have won acting awards, most of them in just the last 20 years. There have been 73 Oscar ceremonies in which not a single woman of colour was nominated. Consider how in her legendary career, Alfre Woodard has been nominated only once, way back in 1983.

Barbie director Greta Gerwig being interviewed at the UK premiere
Barbie director Greta Gerwig being interviewed at the UK premiere

So no disrespect to Robbie and Gerwig from us but if you look closer, great work by women filmmakers is actually well-honoured this year. For the first time in Academy history, three of the ten movies nominated for Best Picture (Anatomy of a Fall, Past Lives and Barbie) were helmed by a woman and the Academy’s newfound push to finally diversify its voting block is yielding positive results. While Academy members of colour made up only 8% of voters in 2015, it’s now doubled to 16%. Of the 100 highest-grossing movies in 2019, 31 starred or co-starred an actor of colour. This week’s ceremony sees Barbie co-star America Ferrera with her first Oscar nomination and Lily Gladstone is a front-runner for Best Actress, the first Native American Indigenous woman nominated.

“It’s all circumstantial that I have this moniker of the first, and I’m certainly not going to be the last,” Gladstone told the New Yorker, “If I’ve kicked the door in, I’m just trying to stand here and leave it open for everybody else.” Speaking at the Critics Choice Awards, Ferrera celebrated “the best and highest use of storytelling: to affirm one another’s full humanity, to uphold the truth that we are all worthy of being seen — Black, brown, Indigenous, Asian, trans, disabled, any body type, any gender.”


And don’t worry, the two white women will be just fine. Gerwig is taking on a massive reboot of the Chronicles of Narnia series and Robbie actually is an Oscar nominee for Barbie, having co-produced the hugely profitable film. As she told Deadline, “We set out to do something that would shift culture, affect culture, just make some sort of impact and it’s already done that and some, way more than we ever dreamed it would. And that is truly the biggest reward that could come out of all of this.”

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Let's Break Some Eggs! – scott dagostino, JEDI Consultant, Breakfast Culture™ Inc.

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