Author: jaydenthomas

Diversity and the Oscars

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On Facebook a friend made a status linking a article about a few tweets from Stephen King on the topic of diversity in art. I was going to comment, but as I kept typing it become longer and longer. Far to long to leave as a comment, because it would seam like a online attack instead of a simple response with my point of view. To the person who wrote the status, I hope you don’t mind that I’ve included your status for context.

THE STATUS:
I’m not one to be usually mixed up in things like this.

Don’t let it be mistaken. what this man has said is true.

ART does not DISCRIMINATE. 

Why should we ‘consider’ diversity in art. Art is open to every medium and form and every story. Art is subjective. But when it comes down to it. Art isn’t about popularity or what is politically correct, whilst we can have an open diverse range of art, deciding to ‘not consider’ diversity when divulging what is the singular best adaptive screenplay or best picture isn’t wrong, if anything, by not considering it he remains to be UNBIAS.

All i see through this website is the exploitation of words in order to make another great look like a fallen angel when in fact he remains true to what is right, unbias in voting.

MY RESPONSE:

I think Stephen King has a valid point, but he said what he said in such a simplified way that it was very easy to be misunderstood. While he’s correct in saying that one should never “consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality”, that statement falls apart when so many consider some of the talent to be snubbed for this years Oscar nominations to be of high quality. His follow up tweet after some minor backlash, was more thoughtful, and if paired with his original tweet it might of not created a stir. “The most important thing we can do as artists and creative people is make sure everyone has the same fair shot, regardless of sex, color, or orientation. Right now such people are badly under-represented, and not only in arts.” What’s said here makes it clear that he believe that diversity shouldn’t come first in arts, but has created a discussion when so many are shutout.

To take things even further, what I don’t think is fair is for King to talk about diversity in the context of this years Oscar nominations as a blanket statement. As in the people who were snubbed are people, not just a political punching bag, so I hope you don’t mind if I get into some specifics.

First up would be the case of Greta Gerwig. It’s well known that in the history of the Oscars, there have only been five women ever to be nominated for Best Director (with one winner). Gerwig was the fifth in 2017 for her solo directorial debut Lady Bird, and it was thought that she would have a high chance of going two for two this year if she could gain a nomination for her work on Little Women. It was a record breaking year for films directed by women. Along with Gerwig there was Lulu Wong on The Farewell (also screenplay), Olivia Wilde on Booksmart, Lorene Scafaria on Hustlers (also screenplay), and Marielle Heller on A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood, just to name a few. With there only being five slots being up for grabs in Best Director, many felt like Gerwig’s nomination would champion the work of the females in Hollywood last year.

That isn’t to dismiss her work on Little Women though. Many felt like she was able to take a text material that is not only over 150 years old, but one that had been adapted numerous, and make it feel not just relevant to 2019, but also necessary. I think whats become clear though, and I feel this might be the case in multiple situations, is that the voters problem wasn’t with Gerwig being a female, but with the film she was making. It was reported in Vanity Fair that early screenings of the film in October last year were overwhelmingly comprised of women. Producer Amy Pascal said “It’s a completely unconscious bias. I don’t think it’s anything like a malicious rejection”. RSVPs for the film were skewed two to one. So it might of been hard for them to nominate a film they haven’t seen or given a chance.

Another major snub in the nominations was Jennifer Lopez for her part in Hustlers, another film with a female cast. I honestly don’t think her non nomination comes down to the colour of her skin, but it is all to do with the kind of role she played and the kind of role voters would prefer to reward. As written in VF, “She dared to play a character who used her sexuality as a professional survival tool and didn’t regret it”. On top of that I do believe that Academy voters see Lopez as a celebrity and not an actress. JLo’s snub was major though because she was considered a lock in nomination, not one that could go either way. She’s seen praise from countless other critics awards, with a total of 15 wins. Some of them won at the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, Satellite Awards, Hollywood Critics Association Awards, Dorian Awards, New York Film Critics Online Awards among others. So it was clear that many in America who consume and critic films for a living deemed her performance worthy of not only a nomination, but in many cases the win, how did she not get the Oscar nomination?

There are two other cases that stand out to me as questionable, and once again I think it has to do with voters having unconscious bias. Rapper and comedian Awkwafina was able to get serious in The Farewell, and it was able to land her a statue at last weeks Golden Globe awards. While I’m not saying that anyone that gets a win at the earlier in the month Globes deserves a automatic nomination, considering the drastic difference in voting pools, it was still frustrating to miss out. The frustrating thing is that once again I don’t think the movie was given it’s chance. Director Lulu Wang said that when she was pitching the film around she always got the same question: “Is this an American film or a Chinese film?”. If that was what she faced to get the movie of the ground, it’s hard not to think it might of also played a role when the film was consumed. I’ve now seen the performances of four out the five women who are nominated for Best Actress and Awkwafina is no better or worse than any of them. So I guess that’s how it goes sometimes, not everyone can be a winner (in this case just getting a nomination), but when the list of people who miss out are predominately people of colour, and the people who get in are predominately white, that’s why these questions get asked.

The cast of Parasite saw no love from voters. I saw a tweet yesterday which said that Parasite is the sixth film to score five or more nominations with a predominantly Asian cast, to go without a single acting nomination. The other films are The Last Emperor, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Memoirs of a Geisha, Slumdog Millionaire, and Life of Pi. Parasite has a genuine chance for Best Picture and for Boon Joon-ho to win Best Director. If he does win does that push this point even more? That not one of the four South Korean talents couldn’t land a nom, but he wins best director. Who was he directing then?

Is the Oscars always going to be the kind of place where known actors have much more of a chance? Among this years twenty acting nominations, there are some well known names. Ones like Pitt, Zellweger, Pacino, DiCaprio, Theron, Hanks. So well known that you only need the surname. The youngest person in the category of Best Supporting Actor is 56, so it is fair to say that experience helps.

The discussion around this years nominations feel’s like a throw back to the nominations for 2014 and 2015 where the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite was created, after all of the twenty nominees ended up being white actors. This year it was avoided with Cynthia Erivo’s performance as slave Harriet Tubman.

In recent years the Academy have made real efforts to add to its voting pool. Despite these efforts diversity is still being talked about, but it’s something that deserves to be talked about when it’s clear that people are rightly frustrated with the results year after year.

One comment on the Facebook page for the Academy read: “maybe the diversity ones were not that good! It’s judged on performance not race”. I think it’s pretty clear it’s not judged on race, but I’m not certain it’s judged on performance either.

Maybe Captain Marvel Wasn’t Made For You!

A decade after Kevin Feige kicked of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Iron Man, the multibillion dollar franchise finally has a feature film with a female lead. Unsurprisingly this has resulted a big reaction from some fans, both before and after seeing the film. In the last week Rotten Tomatoes changed their “Want to See” feature to stop people from review-bombing the film, some thing that also happened to the 2016 all female Ghostbusters reboot, and there was also a campaign for moviegoers to boycott the Brie Larson lead action flick and instead go see Alita: Battle Angle, to send a message to Disney. It’s clear that some just wanted to see the film fail from the start.

With that said though, it is possible for you to sit through the film and not be sexist or misogynist. The remarks that have been made about the film, which I’ll get to in a second, have some validity to them. They fall down though when these same complaints could of been mentioned in a fair few past Marvel films, but of course they wern’t, and that is my real problem. Whether the critiques are fair or not, I feel strongly that we are using a different measuring tape to judge this film, than we normally would.

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I’m not a failure, I’m just a work in progress

So the last time I posted on this blog was in September of 2016. Over those two and a half years I’ve kept on paying for the domain name in hope that one day I’d get back to it. Well today is that day.

In that time I’ve been both busy and not so busy. At times I was studying. Other times I was still continuing my long quest of self discovery. Scrolling back down to see some of the posts I made in 2014 and 2015 make me both happy and sad (nice Kasey Musgraves reference that I’ve managed to shoe-horn in within the first 100 words). On one hand some of the posts show how much I’ve been able to grow. On the other the posts also expose some of the emotions I was feeling at the time I’m still feeling right now. I’m constantly fighting myself in my head to remind myself that I’m not a failure, just a work in progress.

With all that said, it’s so much easier to say I’m a work in progress without putting the work in. That’s probably been my downfall in a lot of aspects of my life. Not putting the work in. My mental health suffered for so long because I expected everything to get better on its own. Even when I read my last post, all about mental health I stated: “…in the long run I’ll be fine. Everything will all work out somehow”. I know now that to be not true. (more…)

We Can Do More Than Just Asking R U OK? How Osher Gunsberg, R U OK Day, and Michael Hurley Made Me Want To Be More Open and Honest About How I’m Going

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No way! How have I not posted anything on here since March? Not even some terrible picture taken from tumblr in a attempt to get a few clicks? Or some half assed think piece on Australia’s darling Sonia Kruger? Maybe I was waiting to come back for something important. I guess this is it then.

Yesterday was R U OK? day. I’m sure everyone was aware of it (hopefully). During the week there would of been a social media campaign and I’m sure traditional advertising was happening, but what caught my eye was a pamphlet around the size of a A5 piece of paper stuffed in my Hungry Jacks bag last weekend. What a great idea. I grabbed in for some serviettes but was left doing something more importantly than cleaning my salty fingers.

I started thinking about myself? Was I OK? Today when I’m writing this I’m fine. I’m great actually, but what about last week? I don’t think I was doing quite as well, but we can stop talking about me in the present as I always know in the long run I’ll be fine. Everything will all work out somehow.

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Survivor Kaoh Rong: What could go wrong?

So there is a chance I might be the worst Survivor fan out. Okay, so maybe not the worst fan, but maybe the worst fan blogger. Looking back over my highly unsuccessful blog I realised that I never even put my thoughts out on the internet about the ending of last season, Survivor Cambodia (not that anyone was reading anyways). So here I am sitting down to post about the pre merge portion of this season, only to make a quick pitstop a couple of months back.

What can I say about Survivor’s third full returnee season? Anti climatic? Is that fair? Yeah, I guess it is. Season 31 started out strong and kind of fell apart when we decided to “invent” voting blocks. Look I’m the biggest Jeremy fan. His blindside in San Juan Del Sur was traumatic to say the least, but we were promised a great returnee season. Instead it felt like a repeat of Blood vs Water where the winner literally walked their way to the million. Seriously many parallels between Jeremy and Tyson could be made, but I really don’t have the time or energy to fall down a rabbit hole, that would make me look like I don’t support or appreciate their game prowess, when it’s quite the opposite.

Okay I’m going to move on. Cambodia was cool, but things could of been taken to the next level if the underdogs came through the the final six.

Now I’m finally going to move on to this season, I think we’re in for a wild ride. These first six episodes have been solid, but the editors are really setting up a few castaways for the fall. Scot, Kyle Jason, Nick, and Debbie all think they have the game in the palm of their hands. Peter would of been grouped in with these guys if he had made the merge, but just like with Obama’s term as president, all good things should come to an end. 

So with that in mind I believe their is only five players left that could actually win, but thanks to the equal editing, in my eyes they all have as good of a chance as the next. The five people I can see winning are Aubry, Neal, Julia, Michele, and Cydney. Any of these I’d be extremely happy with, but for now not much is clear. Hell, I could be wrong and the winner of the season could be Scot Pollard. That would show for once and for all that nothing can be certain on Survivor after 15 years. 


Taylor Swift Has The Grammy For Album Of The Year All Wrapped Up

Come January next year, Taylor shouldn’t have another moment like this:
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Looking at the albums that came out between October 1st 2014 and September 20th 2015, nothing compares to the ground breaking and record making 1989. The album was the first album in ten years to make one million in its first week, and currently has spawned four hit singles, with three of them going number one.

Looking over the past year the most likely competitors to 1989 could be Sonic Highways, Foo Fighters; Uptown Special, Mark Ronson; To Pimp A Butterfly, Kendrick Lamar; and Rebel Heart, Madonna.

So can we already pencil in a win for Taylor to avenge her RRRRandom Access Memories moment?