Actress Emma Stone is back in the bosom of controversy — which she has managed to evade since her last snafu that involved playing a character in a really bad movie — who was partially Asian.
Stone had the honor of presenting the Oscar for best director at Sunday’s ceremony — and with the assistance of a climate that is immersed in the #MeToo and Time’s Up movement — Stone proceeded to introduce the category with the reminder that only one woman — Lady Bird director Greta Gerwig — managed to snag an entry in what has traditionally been — an exclusively male-dominated category.
“These four men and Greta Gerwig created their own masterpieces this year.”
Stone was obviously inspired by actress Natalie Portman — who took advantage of the heightened atmosphere that encouraged those attending this past Golden Globes to dress in black — by calling out the all-male nominees in the very same category of her successor at the Oscars.
“And here are the all-male nominees.”
Incidentally — Portman is also accused of embodying a role in her latest film — Annihilation — that was meant to be played by an actress of Asian descent — a fact that she claims she was unaware of — when the casting process was underway. Despite her apologetic stance during the press tour — it’s quite hard to believe that based on Portman’s experience behind-the-camera — including producing credits — she was completely oblivious about the background of the main character in the project of her choosing.
In the case of Emma Stone — the Oscar-winner’s misstep while presenting one of the anticipated awards of the night was rooted in the realization that the best director nominees included two men of color — Jordan Peele — who directed Get Out and The Shape of Water’s — Guillermo Del Toro — both of whom have never won an Oscar — even though Del Toro has had the honor of previous nominations.
Stone’s attempt at wittily calling out the establishment for shutting out women was meant to be inspiring and brave — but like so many in her station — she woefully missed the mark — due to the validity of White feminism and how it blinds White women from the task of covering all their basis.
It’s the reason why some believe that the movements that have been initiated in response to victims of sexual misconduct at the hands of a thriving misogynistic system — has been readily hijacked by White women who have used their influential status to benefit from their tearful testimonies. This may or may not be the case — but the attention bestowed on these notables tends to over-shadow the trajectory of the bigger picture.
Tarana Burke who founded the MeToo movement more than a decade ago — had to literally fight to regain the reins when actress Alyssa Milano was temporarily the face of her mission statement.
There’s no doubt that Stone’s heart was in the right in the place — but the blatant disregard for the racial ethics that have given those of us who have no choice — the responsibility of adherence — is glaring proof of how the privilege of White feminism is an irresistible and natural tendency that stems from a blissful sphere of nonchalance.
It’s not that White women don’t care about the ongoing racial injustice that is potently and aggressively represented through the waves of dedicated platforms — it’s really just the disconnect that exists between White women and women of color.
Our goals don’t align and the language we speak tends to collide into tragic incoherency due to the thought process on both sides — that is driven by very separate narratives.
As a Black woman who pays extreme attention to the way my community is portrayed based on the biases that still fester — I can’t help but harbor bitterness at the exclusion of filmmaker Dee Rees — who absolutely should’ve garnered a best director nod from the Academy — for her gorgeous film — Mudbound.
The voters have always had a soft spot for coming-of-age stories that center on the adorably radical motives of young White girls — so with that ammunition — Lady Bird was destined to be feted.
In my summation — Gerwig — based on her limited experience as a filmmaker should be grateful for her surprise inclusion — and that sentiment should’ve been shared by her ally who got carried away with her need to be the “activist of the moment.”
Yes, more women creatives need to be granted the exposure that will get them the envelopes of recognition from an institution that isn’t trying hard enough to make that an effortless process. But — the truth is that White women rule Hollywood in the acting realm — and this advantage provides the security of knowing that when the revisions are activated — they’re the ones who will benefit greatly — compared to their counterparts of color.
Gerwig is a glaring example of this.
So — at the end of the day — we have White actresses who accepted roles they weren’t ethnically fit for — and when confronted with their decision — their regretful responses weren’t convincing enough to assure critics that they wouldn’t dare make that same mistake in the future. And in the meantime — they are fighting for justice — on behalf of women that resemble them.
The privilege of White feminism is an antagonistic wedge that makes it virtually impossible for feminists on all sides of the spectrum to progressively move forward — in the spirit of respectability.
Let the conversation continue…