Diversity at the Oscars: How are our stars really being rated?

What is most memorable about the Oscars? Is it that red carpet dress, that fleeky tuxedo, or the awards the actors win? Here we take a look at how diversity featured at the 2017 Oscar Academy Awards.

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[Image credit: iStock/Paul Bradbury]

When we think of the Oscars our minds go straight to the glitz and glamour, tuxedos and silk gowns, the red carpet and, of course, the all-important golden Oscar statues. For actresses and actors alike, winning an Oscar is something dreams are made of; an achievement highly acknowledged not only throughout Hollywood but across the globe.

Sunday night (February 26th), marked the 89th Academy Awards, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel and attended by the biggest names in film – Emma Stone, Meryl Streep and Ryan Gosling to name but a few.

Best Picture goes to…oh wait!

Google ‘Oscars 2017′ and the headline that undoubtedly stole the show was the embarrassing mix-up of the ‘Best Picture’ award, which was wrongly announced by presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. La La Land, the blockbuster that had already claimed awards at the Golden Globes, the SAG Awards, the Critics Choice Awards, and the BAFTAs, and was initially announced as the film that had taken the crown. It wasn’t until halfway through the acceptance speeches by the La La Land production team that the film’s producer Jordan Horowitz noticed the mistake, grabbed the envelope from Mr Beatty and exclaimed “I’m sorry, no, there’s a mistake. Moonlight, you guys won Best Picture”. Awkward.

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[Image credit: giphy.com]

Blunders aside, you don’t have to look far to find an in-depth critique of what the stars were wearing, particularly the women. While it is the awards themselves that rank celebrities on their talents, much of the fuss surrounding the annual Oscars event is what our beloved actresses wore. Some publications didn’t even bother with ‘best dressed’ lists and only went in with the ‘worst dressed’ articles. Regardless of talent, are Hollywood’s actresses actually being rated on how good they look?

#OscarsSoWhite

In 2016, for the second year running, the event faced much criticism because of its lack of ethnic diversity among award-winners, inspiring the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag to trend once again across social media. Because of this, there were protests from the likes of George Clooney, Barack Obama and Lupita Nyong’o, as well as a boycott from Will Smith, Spike Lee and Michael Moore.

This year, however, there was some improvement, with much recognition for Moonlight – a film featuring a diverse cast, telling a tale that related to the LGBT community. The film’s award for ‘Best Picture’ was its third win of the night, having picked up ‘Best Actor in a Supporting Role’ and ‘Best Writing for an Adapted Screenplay’. Moonlight’s director Barry Jenkins exclaimed: “Even in my dreams this couldn’t be true, but hell with dreams, it is true.”

Despite his rather large mishap earlier in the evening, Mr Beatty spoke wisely. “It could be said that our goal in politics is the same as our goal in art, which is to get to truth,” he said.

“So that’s like in the movies that we honour tonight, that not only entertain us and move us, they show us the increasing diversity in our community and a respect for diversity and freedom all over the world.”

But will the Oscars ever truly be diverse? Or is it time the red carpet event moved away from typical gender constructs?

Who won the red carpet?

While the press so openly ranks the Oscars actresses into best and worst dressed categories, it chooses to look past actors with sexual harassment suits filed against them, leaving them eligible to still win top awards. Today’s tabloids continue to slate Hollywood’s actresses, with the Daily Mail outing Leslie Mann as worst dressed referring to her as “going for a Beauty & the Beast’s Belle vibe, but ended up just looking wrapped in a mustard cloud.”

Other actresses who didn’t win the red carpet, according to the tabloids, “failed to impress”, “suffered a style disaster” and went “over the top”. When we compare this criticism with that applied to male actors, the ‘Top worst dressed celebrity’ lists feature just one or two male stars that tend to have to do something outrageous to be noticed.

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[Image credit: Instagram/@maisonvalentino]

However, ‘Loving’ actress Ruth Negga did stand out at this year’s Oscars, and for all the right reasons. Along with other celebrities, Ms Negga made a political statement, proudly wearing her blue American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) ribbon, standing in resistance against Donald Trump and supporting women’s groups.

Despite some promising signs, both the Oscars and the way the event is reported has a long way to go in terms of equality and diversity. In the end though, maybe awards shows like the Oscars can improve diversity and equality, with a growing trend of celebrities using them as a platform to speak out against prejudice – both in their industry and the wider world.

 

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