BCM332 Contextual Essay: #diversifyhollywood

In Chris Rock’s opening monologue at the 2016 Academy Awards, the host spoke about racial inequality hollywood. Although making jokes on the topic, his overall message was that they just want the same opportunities as white people, that’s it. Since 1929, only 6.4% of acting nominations at the Oscars have gone to non-white actors and in the last 25 years alone, only 11.2% of actors were non-white (Berman & Johnson, 2016). This is clearly not a new issue and yet the statistics have not changed enough for it to be better.

2016 saw the release of a number of amazing films which represented diversity, from their creators to the story lines such as “Beasts of No Nation”, “Creed” and “Straight Outta Compton”. and yet it was the second year in a row that the academy has had zero non-white nominees in the acting categories. As a result, the Awards received a lot of negative reception with celebrities such as Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett-Smith boycotting the ceremony altogether (Gray, 2016).

Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, released a statement in response to the criticisms stating, “I’d like to acknowledge the wonderful work of this year’s nominees. While we celebrate their extraordinary achievements, I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion. This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes.The Academy is taking dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our membership. In the coming days and weeks we will conduct a review of our membership recruitment in order to bring about much-needed diversity in our 2016 class and beyond….We have implemented changes to diversify our membership in the last four years. But the change is not coming as fast as we would like. We need to do more, and better and more quickly” (Isaacs, 2016).

The video I have created is a PSA / campaign video for a mock social movement called #diversifyhollywood. It aims to highlight the racial discrimination still existent in Hollywood and bring about change. Chris Rock’s speech is contrasted with the announcement of past Oscar winners who are all white. The fact that the awards ceremony can have an African American host yet cannot recognise the work of other non-white creatives in the industry highlights the irony of the issue. The end slogan, “This issue is black and white – so why isn’t Hollywood?” reiterates the clear message and using a rhetorical question influences viewers to truly think about the issue. While visually the message is clear, it is emphasised with a statistic to prove the reality of the situation and it ensures viewers it is not just a mashup bias to the cause.

Contextual Essay References:

Berman, E., Johnson, D., 2016, See the Entire History of The Oscars Diversity Problem In One Chart, Time Labs, weblog post, 20 January, viewed 26 October, http://labs.time.com/story/oscars-diversity/.

Galloway, S., 2016, ‘Academy President ‘Heartbroken’ Over Lack of Diversity at Oscars’, Time, 18 January, viewed 27 October 2016, http://time.com/4184688/academy-president-oscars-diversity/.

Gray, T., 2016, ‘Academy Nominates All White Actors for Second Year in Row’, Variety, 14 January, viewed 27 October 2016, http://variety.com/2016/biz/news/oscar-nominations-2016-diversity-white-1201674903/.

Video Sources (in order of appearance):

Oscars, 2016, Chris Rock’s Opening Monologue, online video, 23 March, The Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Sciences, viewed 25 October 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqhVNZgZGqQ.

Oscars, 2013, Jennifer Lawrence Wins Best Actress: 2013 Oscars, online video, 4 March, The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, viewed 25 October 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDU7zLAd2-U.

Oscars, 2015, Julianne Moore Winning Best Actress, online video, 6 March, The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, viewed 25 October 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzR3CUU51IU.

Oscars, 2013, Christoph Waltz winning Best Support Actor for “Django Unchained”, online video, 4 March, The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, viewed 25 October 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWdn7pFmtdQ.

Oscars, 2016, Leonardo DiCaprio winning Best Actor, online video, 23 March, The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, viewed 25 October 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpyrefzvTpI.

Oscars, 2015, Eddie Redmayne winning Best Actor, online video, 6 March, The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, viewed 25 October 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_ZVJgM-bZI.

Oscars, 2014, Cate Blanchett winning Best Actress for “Blue Jasmine”, online video, 11 March, The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, viewed 25 October 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=squYKgRWZN0.

Oscars, 2014, Jared Leto winning Best Supporting Actor, online video, 11 March, The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, viewed 25 October 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCtch3DzLRs.

Oscars, 2016, Alicia Vikander winning Best Supporting Actress, online video, 23 March, The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, viewed 25 October 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdlzqmMDF3g.

Oscars, 2011, Colin Firth winning Best Actor, online video, 3 March, The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, viewed 25 October 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9aO5R6ezqio.

Oscars, 2016, Brie Larson winning Best Actress, online video, 23 March, The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, viewed 25 October 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_lq5wORkYA.

Oscars, 2011, Nicholas Cage winning Best Actor, online video, 30 March, The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, viewed 25 October 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jXi-Z3M9Us.

Oscars, 2010, Hilary Swank Wins Best Actress: 2005 Oscars, online video, 29 November, The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, viewed 25 October 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWGNsP26ttQ.

Oscars, 2008, Julia Roberts winning an Oscar, online video, 24 April, The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, viewed 25 October 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZV0YbYECU7A.

Oscars, 2011, Christian Bale winning Best Supporting Actor, online video, 3 March, The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, viewed 25 October 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsEGpXlpcO8.

Oscars, 2009, Angelina Jolie Wins Supporting Actress: 2000 Oscars, online video, 28 September, The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, viewed 25 October 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPWpHWr1L7s.

Oscars, 2014, Matthew McConaughey winning Best Actor, online video, 11 March, The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, viewed 25 October 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wD2cVhC-63I.

Berman, E., Johnson, D., 2016, See the Entire History of The Oscars Diversity Problem In One Chart, Time Labs, weblog post, 20 January, viewed 26 October, http://labs.time.com/story/oscars-diversity/.

#FreeTheNipple Pt 2

In an almost surprising set of circumstances, the #FreeTheNipple campaign is extremely active on Instagram, even though Instagram’s terms of conditions state the female nipple is banned and any images containing a female nipple will be removed if posted. #FreeTheNipple has used this to their advantage making a very important statement about gender inequality. Supporters have been posting images with a male nipple photo-shopped on top of a female nipple to make them “acceptable”, emphasising the ridiculousness of the ban and the unnecessary sexualisation of the female nipple.

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 2.50.27 PM

Due to the widespread response #FreeTheNipple has gained across social media, support has spread across the world. At the beginning of 2016, a Facebook event was created by two young women organising a picnic in Brisbane for anyone who identifies as a woman to celebrate the #Freethenipple movement. While many went topless at the picnic, it was not enforced, but rather focused on the support of gender equality and the movement. While the Facebook event gained quite a lot of attention with over three thousand people interested and 800 RSVP’s, only 50 women actually attended the event. This is one of the main issues associated with “hashtag” movements.

The utilisation of social media as an activism tool is a result of the digital age we are living in. It cannot be denied that hashtags are an effective way of gaining mass attention very quickly. However, it can often be seen in past movements that ‘slacktivism’ occurs, whereby people are supporting a cause online with no effort or involvement truly put in. As a result, a cause gains attention but little is actually done to solve or aid the issue. Journalist Malcolm Gladwell stated, “Social media is build around weak ties…where activists were once defined by their causes, they are now defined by their tools” (Gladwell, 2010).

Similarly, the #FreeTheNipple movement has received negative criticism for their supposed biased representation of the female body. Many were quick to point out that the faces (and bodies) of the movement seemed to conform to traditional standards of beauty, aka women who are skinny and pretty.

In fairness, the movement clearly states its support for equality for all women, however its website fails to visually support these ideologies. In an article exploring the exclusivity of the movement, Georgina Jones stated, “ I’m sure that these women would have welcomed anyone with breasts in any shape to join them. But the unconscious ignorance of diversity is one that we cannot allow within any feminist movement in 2015. Feminism without intersectionality is pointless; freeing nipples and only representing nipples that adhere to patriarchal standards of beauty is pointless” (Jones, 2015).

Although these critics make a valid point, the most important thing is to remember is the main reason for #FreeTheNipple. While women have come a long way, gender inequality still exists and as a society we should not be okay with this. Like anything, #FreeTheNipple has issues and room for improvement but it ultimately encourages an equal world and that should be everyone’s focus.

Sources

Jones, Georgina 2015, Free The Nipple And Its Relationship To Standards Of Beauty: Exploring Exclusivity In The Mammary Movement, Bustle, Weblog post, viewed 23 August 2016, http://www.bustle.com/articles/60103-free-the-nipple-and-its-relationship-to-standards-of-beauty-exploring-exclusivity-in-the-mammary-movement

Mitchell-Whittington, Amy 2016, ‘Brisbane ‘free the nipple’ picnic a quiet affair’, Brisbane Times, 17 January, viewed 23 August 2016, http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/brisbane-free-the-nipple-picnic-a-quiet-affair-20160117-gm7sxs.html

Gladwell, Malcolm 2014, ‘Small Change’, The New Yorker, 4 October, viewed 1 October 2014, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/10/04/small-change-malcolm-gladwell

#FreeTheNipple Pt 1

While we are being shown acts of terrorism and violence on a daily basis in our media, the content that is considered “too scandalous” to show is women’s nipples. Not men’s, just women’s. Even though the biological function of the female nipple is to feed children, our society has sexualised the female body to a point where women are made to feel inappropriate in their own skin. Nevertheless, there are many who are openly and successfully fighting this injustice.

The #Freethenipple campaign is a movement to change the laws that make it illegal for women to show their nipple in public. The movement began in 2012, when filmmaker Lina Esco created the film, “Free the Nipple”, targeting sexist public nudity laws. The film gained mass attention and continued to grow with thousands of supporters all over the world. The main focus of the film is the “hypocritical contradictions in our media-dominated society wherein acts of baroque violence, killing, brutalisation and death are infinitely more tolerated by the FCC [The Federal Communications Commission] and the MPAA [The Motion Picture’s Association of America] who regulate all films and TV shows in the US” (Esco, 2013).

It is currently illegal for a woman to be publicly topless in 37 of the 50 US states. In 5 of these states, a woman can even be sentenced to jail time for publicly breastfeeding. #Freethenipple is a fight for equality against this censorship. While the campaign utilises social media to gain recognition and support through the hashtag, the discrimination for women to represent their natural selves is worsened by the media, which sexualises women to a point where their bodies are now seen as distasteful and offensive. For example, a man’s nipple can be posted on Instagram, no matter how inappropriate the photo is with no complications. On the other hand, a woman who has had a single mastectomy must censor her other nipple otherwise Instagram will remove the image for being “inappropriate”. The point of the #Freethenipple campaign is not to make all women walk around topless but to wear a top if you’d like to, but not because it’s illegal not to (Warnick, 2014).

While gender inequality is still relevant in our society the movement is bringing much needed attention to the issue. In 2014, Facebook removed its ban on images of breastfeeding. This however doesn’t extend its policies to allow the female nipple in other contexts. Esco wrote in a 2013 Huffington Post essay, “When I started my online campaign, Facebook and Instagram banned the photos of topless women that were taken on location, faster than we could put them up. Why can you show public beheadings from Saudi Arabia on Facebook, but not a [female] nipple? Why can you sell guns on Instagram but yet they will suspend your account for posting the most natural part of a women’s body?” The #Freethenipple campaign is aiming to change the backwards views of our society and while there is still a long way to go it is the first step of many, in making a difference.

References

IFC Films 2014, Free the Nipple – Official Trailer I HD I Sundance Selects, online video, 20 November, YouTube, viewed 13 April 2015, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eX8czRjkaBI&gt;.

Esco, Lina 2013, Why I Made a Film Called Free the Nipple and Why I’m Being Censored in America, The Huffington Post, Weblog post, viewed 9 August 2016, <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lina-esco/free-the-nipple_b_4415859.html&gt;.

Warnick, Aaron 2014, Social Equality Movement Brought About By “Free The Nipple”, The Duquesne Duke, Weblog post, 27 January, viewed 9 August 2016, <http://www.duqsm.com/social-equality-movement-brought-about-by-free-the-nipple/&gt;.

Zeilinger, Julie 2015, Here’s What The Free The Nipple Movement Has Really Accomplished, Identifies Mic, Weblog post, 21 August, viewed 9 August 2016, <https://mic.com/articles/124146/here-s-what-the-free-the-nipple-movement-has-really-accomplished#.LMmQEDBym&gt;.