Why I’m Not Watching the Oscars

For as long as I can remember, watching the Oscars has been one of my family’s traditions. Oscar Sunday usually fell right before Spring Break, so my mom would take my sister and I swimsuit shopping. We’d stop and get Chinese food on the way home, then settle in and watch Hollywood’s big night all together.

Now that the three of us are scattered across the U.S., from California to Tennessee, watching the Oscars simultaneously and then texting and chatting about it has become a part of the tradition. We usually each get Chinese food in our respective states (lunch for California, dinner for Oklahoma and Tennessee), and tune in together. We often text during the show, sharing crying emojis over heartfelt speeches and shocked emojis when our beloved choice doesn’t take home the prize.

But I don’t think I can do it this year. While I love this connection to my family and it helps me miss them a little less (or a little more, as I’d rather be together!), the Oscars have really disappointed me this year. This year the nominees lack diversity in gender and race. Again. People of color and women make wonderful films, too. There are so many amazing movies from 2019 I was sure would be nominated that were entirely left out.

While many have discussed the lack of diversity, there’s one other (less societally important) snub that’s also rubbed me the wrong way. The most successful animated movie in history was not nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature, nor was it nominated for Best Film.

I’m crushed that Frozen II was overlooked. It’s groundbreaking in technology, storytelling, and music. It’s astounding. Yet it’s only nomination is for Best Original Song? Yes, the songs are all amazing and deserve the nomination. But so does the technology and the actors and the director. At the very least, it should’ve been nominated for Best Animated Feature.

When I first realized Frozen II had been snubbed, I joked I wouldn’t watch this year. But as it came to light who else was left in the dark, and how minorities especially were excluded, I realized this was bigger than Frozen II.

I can’t support an organization that doesn’t value the work of everyone equally and give more voices room to speak. Part of building longer tables instead of higher fences require us to use our voices to speak up for the overlooked and be an ally to the silenced.

How can little old me out in Tennessee stand up for what’s right when no one cares what I’m saying? Well, with this post for one. But also with my money. The Oscars is a televised event with ad revenue like any other. So if I want to show I don’t approve of their selections this year, I can do so by not tuning in. They need seats filled and screens on for this event to be a success. If enough of us refuse to watch this event, maybe the ad revenue will speak loudly enough for them to finally listen.

Storytellers change the world, and the Oscars is meant to honor storytellers. But we have to honor storytellers from all areas, walks of life, languages, and backgrounds. Not using the Academy Awards’s stage to showcase phenomenal films from all kinds of filmmakers hurts us all. We love films and grow through the stories they tell; why would we want to limit our potential for growth?

Why does it matter? Who cares about an awards show for actors patting themselves on the back? Well, it’s a microcosm of society and what we value, for one. But also, the industry values it and we should support diversity in every industry, and fight for equality on every front. Just because it isn’t our industry doesn’t make it not our battle.

If you agree with these sentiments, I humbly ask you to join me in boycotting viewing the Academy Awards this year to send a clear message to the Academy that we value films from diverse filmmakers, and that they have lost our viewership until we see that represented in their nominees.

For further reading, I recommend this article by USA Today.

 

gold coloured human statue
Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

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