Let it never be said that Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone doesn’t have a pair of cast-iron cojones. If you doubt this, read her Golden Globe reaction piece that went up late last night — “The Clickbait Outrage Machine Goes into Overdrive Post Globes.”
It’s one of the bravest and frankest essays ever written about the real-deal terms of female filmmaker empowerment in Hollywood. It’s a piece that only a tough woman columnist could have written. If I’d posted this on HE I would have been torn limb from limb by twitter jackals, and the buzzards would be feasting on the leftovers ten minutes later. But Sasha has the authority.
Yesterday I deftly debated the “gender parity watchdogs” who had howled in protest over four top-ranked female directors — Little Women‘s Greta Gerwig, The Farewell‘s Lulu Wang, Hustler‘s Lorene Scafaria and It’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood‘s Marielle Heller — not being nominated for a Golden Globe Best Director award, and their films not being nominated for Best Motion Picture, Drama.
I stated that The Farewell is a highly superior film, but also argued that a reasonably convincing case couldn’t be made for Little Women, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood or Hustlers “being more transporting or historic or eye-opening” than Martin Scorsese‘s The Irishman, Sam Mendes‘ 1917 or Todd Phillips‘ Joker. I also said it would be a push to convince people that Little Women, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood or Hustlers “are fuller meals or more humanist or more grounded in human vulnerability.”
That was as far as I felt I could go. But then Sasha’s piece appeared last night and made me look…well, like a guy who needs to be careful.
Because Sasha just said it. She basically argued that feminist industry progressives and their Film Twitter component are doing women no favors by insisting that a gender parity quota system should be observed when it comes to award nominations.
Film Twitter is basically declaring that (a) there must be some female award-show representation “so those involved can sleep at night, knowing that yes, Virginia, there is gender parity in Hollywood,” (b) not nominating women for awards is unacceptable, and (c) that those who defy this revolutionary mandate will have to pay a price.
“’Pick a woman, any woman‘ seems to be the message,” Sasha wrote. “Because if that happens [award-giving orgs] are shielded from attacks.
“I have no doubt that the clickbait cycle so prevalent today will seek to put Oscar voters on notice in the 11th hour, urging them to choose one of these [female-directed] movies for good optics, to shield them from the kind of heat the Globes got burned with [on Monday].
A Stone paragraph that will live forever: “If I were a woman I wouldn’t want anyone to do me any favors. I would want to make a movie SO GOOD that its value was undeniable. Like Kathryn Bigelow’s Hurt Locker, like Jane Campion’s The Piano, like Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation, like Ava DuVernay’s Selma.**
“Voters should focus on choosing the best films or the best directors or the best scripts. But none of that matters to Film Twitter, which then is the feeder trough for clickbait all over the web.
Another historic Stone statement: “It seems like in our overriding desire to level the playing field we’ve decided that there is no absolute measure of what’s good and what isn’t, and that’s been replaced by a sliding scale that adjusts to factor in equality, parity, and inclusion.”
“I’m not sure I believe that’s what film awards should be about. I think once they take that attitude they mostly become meaningless.
Legendary Stone paragraph #3: “The solution isn’t to pity-vote women in. The solution is to not give up on women. [Women should] make more movies, fail harder, try and try again — just like those who DID make it into the race.
“Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino have been making movies a long time. You want to argue about Bong Joon-ho‘s masterpiece, Parasite? And Sam Mendes made a movie about WWI in one continuous take that is near perfect. Any women come close to any of that anywhere? Show me.
“And finally, the wagons are circling Todd Phillips because even though Joker won the Golden Lion in Venice, it wasn’t Film Twitter approved and thus, they tried and failed to kill it dead. So THAT is the one they feel is expendable. [But] did any film directed by a woman this year shake up the culture like Joker did? I found it incredibly disturbing but thought-provoking and guess what? It was DARING. Give women the chance to be daring. Give them the chance to make bad movies and good movies and great movies.
“You might say, well how can they do that if we don’t give them awards? I would answer that if you hand out awards to people who don’t necessarily deserve them, that hurts their reputation in the long run, and thus, the reputation of all women.
“I’d say if we’re going to go into full-blown advocacy mode we should create separate categories for women, maybe even separate awards shows, to ensure they all get recognized. After all, that is what people seem to be suggesting here. Make it like sports where men and women are separated. I don’t want that.
“But the message that should be taken away from yesterday is that pity-votes are bullshit and women should continue to keep making movies, even if their films aren’t the top five of the year.
“You want to do women a favor? You want them to grow and excel in film as directors? Then respect them with an honest critique of their movies. That way they will know when they win an award it will truly be because (a) they deserve it and (b) not because those who handed them an award did it to feel better about themselves and their industry.”
** HE doesn’t believe that Selma, which I admired for the most part, is “so good that its value is undeniable.” Not with Ava DuVernay’s suggestion that Lyndon Johnson prodded the FBI to secretly tape Martin Luther King‘s extramarital activities in order to pressure him into not pushing so hard for the Voting Rights Act.