Check it out, folks! Lindy West has a fabulous opinion piece in the New York Times’ Sunday Review about the importance of creating and supporting art that turns the tables on oppressive narratives. Here’s an excerpt, but make sure to read the whole thing:
The Oscars are here: the first Oscars since powerful men started falling to #MeToo, a Trump-era Oscars, a #TimesUp Oscars, an Oscars in the shadow of “Black Panther.” Some big chairs will be empty. Some big secrets will stalk the red carpet, newly unleashed.
In an America where the ruling party seems willing to sacrifice many things — including decency and justice — to reassert white Christian masculinity as the tentpole of the universe, the best picture category offers a contrasting vision: a flaw-free indictment of that same colonial pathology (“Get Out”), a blazing affirmation of young womanhood (“Lady Bird”) and an aching gay romance (“Call Me by Your Name”), among others.
Jordan Peele has the chance to become the first black person ever to win best director; Greta Gerwig would be only the second woman. Yance Ford, whose film “Strong Island” is up for best documentary feature, would be the first trans director to win an Oscar. Vulture reported last week that some older Academy voters refused to even watch “Get Out,” calling it “not an Oscar film,” a dismissal more air horn than dog whistle. Identity politics loom large over the 90th Academy Awards, as well they should.
TV and film are in the thick of an unprecedented sociopolitical reckoning, the first ever of such scale and ferocity, a microcosm of our ever-more-literal national culture war. But to make that reckoning stick, we have to look ahead and ask ourselves what we want of this new Hollywood, and look back to avoid repeating the past.
Hollywood is both a perfect and bizarre vanguard in the war for cultural change. Perfect because its reach is so vast, its influence so potent; bizarre because television and movies are how a great many toxic ideas embedded themselves inside of us in the first place.
When I was growing up, I didn’t chafe at the shallow, exploitative representations of my gender that I saw on screen; I took notes. I added item after item to my mental lists of how to be a woman and the things I should yearn for and tolerate from men.
From makeover shows, I learned that I was ugly. From romantic comedies, I learned that stalking means he loves you and persistence means he earned you — and also that I was ugly. From Disney movies, I learned that if I made my waist small enough (maybe with the help of a witch), a man or large hog-bear might marry me, and that’s where my story would end. “The Smurfs” taught me that boys can have distinct personalities, like being smart or grumpy, and girls can have only one (that personality is “high heels”). From “The Breakfast Club,” I learned that rage and degradation are the selling points of an alluring bad boy, not the red flags of an abuser. From pretty much all media, I learned that complicated women are “crazy” and complicated men are geniuses.
Read the whole thing here, and spread the word!