Aside from the fashion and the selfies, last night the 86th Annual Academy Awards had another theme: heroes.
The idea of the Oscars having a single “theme” is awkward enough to begin with – you’d think that it being the biggest night in Hollywood would pretty much cover the USP for the evening. But nonetheless, they went ahead and chose a theme. And in the process made it achingly obvious how far the Hollywood film industry has to go in terms of gender equality.
The clunky montages which held the night’s flimsy theme together were notably lacking in female faces. Vulture counted 82 shots of men versus a paltry 13 of women in the action heroes montage, and the other categories of “Animated Heroes” and “Real Life Heroes” didn’t do much better.
To add insult to injury, in that same montage Katniss Everdeen appears twice and two of the other heroes are X-Men characters who have only ever played supporting roles in any of the film franchise (Storm, played by Halle Berry, and Jean Grey, played by Famke Janssen).
And then there were 82 shots of men (not even counting the robots, who were all modeled on masculine physical characteristics) – that’s got to make for some interesting demographics in movie-land.
The Oscar montages are problematic for two major reasons:
- They highlight the massive inequality between the representation of women and men on-screen. Not only are there far fewer female characters in film, but they are also constantly relegated to supporting or “love-interest” roles.
- They are representative of a more worrying trend: that even those rare female heroes who make it into the final cut are simply not deemed memorable or important enough to be included in a tribute to the Hollywood Hero. Because male heroes are still the norm.
Because let’s face it, there are so many more iconic sheroes who could have been included in that montage, right alongside Django and Tony Stark! And as much as I am eager for filmmakers to continue to create more female characters, it’s also important that those characters will be remembered.
So, I’ve compiled a (by no means exhaustive) list below, just in case the producers over at the Academy need a crib sheet for the next time they’re pulling footage for a montage – comment if you have any additions!
- Princess Leia (from Star Wars)
- Lara Croft (from Tomb Raider)
- Alice (from Resident Evil)
- All of the Charlie’s Angels
- Selene (from Underworld)
- Sarah Connor (from Terminator 2)
- Special Agent Sarah Ashburn and Detective Shannon Mullins (from The Heat)
- Hermione Granger (from the Harry Potter series)
- Gracie Hart (from Miss Congeniality)
- Mulan (from Mulan)
- Jessie (from Toy Story 2)
- Matilda (from Matilda)
- Mattie (from True Grit)
Leave it to Cate Blanchett to address the elephant in the room during her acceptance speech:
“Perhaps those of us in the industry who still foolishly cling to the idea that female films, with women at the center, are niche experiences. They are not,” she said. “Audiences want to see them, and, in fact, they earn money. The world is round, people.”
So that’s at least one shero for the count!