Wednesday, September 09, 2020

About the Oscars

The new guidelines to ensure diversity in Oscar-nominated films seem to be laudable, in intent at least. For a film to get a nod, it will need to ensure that more women, ethnic minorities, LGBT people and those with disabilities will be involved on screen or as part of the production process.

But the fact that this comes a few months after Parasite won the Best Picture award suggests the application of these requirements may be trickier than it seems at first. Certainly, Bong Joon Ho’s social satire/thriller would have ticked at least some of the right boxes as far as the Academy is concerned; except that in South Korea, one of the most racially homogeneous countries in the world (96% of the population is ethnic Korean), it doesn’t really look that way. It’s a great film, it’s clearly not the sort of movie that would prompt the #OscarsSoWhite complaint, but, in terms of race, diverse it ain’t.

Parasite was the first film not in the English language to win the big prize, which can be seen as small green shoot of linguistic and cultural diversity poking through the concrete of Anglophone hegemony. But presumably, the only way in which such a film would qualify for next year’s awards would be to indulge in a gentle, well-intentioned moment of cultural colonialism, and apply strictly Western standards of what constitutes diversity.

PS: In the Telegraph, Robbie Collin calculates how some other past winners would have fared:
Since Jews and Italians don’t count as under-represented these days, there’s bad news for The Godfather (and its sequel), Annie Hall and Schindler’s List, while the conspicuously un-woke Gone with the Wind and Driving Miss Daisy both pass with flying colours.

No comments: