Me Too, Here to Stay?

March 13, 2018 McKenzie Pickett

Insights from The Opportunity Agenda

It goes without question, that Frances McDormand’s acceptance speech was the true winner for the 2018 Oscars.

It was empowering and impactful to watch McDormand, a 2-time academy award winner for best actress, praise all the women nominees of the night while pushing for more equity and inclusion throughout the industry. She left the audience with two words to ponder: “inclusion rider.” So what does that mean and how will it help in the strive for change?

An image of the justice scales with Academy Awards statues on one scale and Times Up on the other

For the powerhouses of the entertainment industry, an inclusion rider can quickly increase equity in the representation of people on and off screen: people of color, women, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ community members - to name a few. It comes down to people in power asking for baseline representation for the cast and crew in their contracts, so that the demographics of people within the entertainment industry more accurately reflect the world which they are trying to portray.

This year’s Oscars saw a more diverse pool of presenters and award winners - a shift that can be seen as a direct response to criticisms about the lack of diversity and representation raised by both #OscarsSoWhite and the #MeToo Movement.

McDormand’s rousing speech was just one of a number of moments during this year’s ceremony that reflect the widespread push for change within Hollywood. This year’s Oscars saw a more diverse pool of presenters and award winners - a shift that can be seen as a direct response to criticisms about the lack of diversity and representation raised by both #OscarsSoWhite and the #MeToo Movement. Jordan Peele took home the award for best original screen play, the first Black American to do so, while Mexican immigrant Guillermo del Toro was awarded best director and best picture. These awards were coupled with actresses and actors, such as Lupita Kyong’o and Kumail Nanjiani, speaking out in support of undocumented immigrants, and other traditionally marginalized and underrepresented groups.

While these efforts should be applauded, there is still more work to be done – and much needed dialogue about the role Hollywood should play in solidifying the Me Too Movement as the just the beginning of long-term cultural change.

Ambiguity surrounding Hollywood’s ability to affect more lasting change was further highlighted by two controversial awards presented to Kobe Bryant (Best Animated Short) and Gary Oldman (Best Actor). Bryant was accused, arrested, and tried for the rape of a 19-year-old hotel employee in 2003 while playing in the NBA, and Oldman was accused of assault by his ex-wife, Donya Fiorentino, in 2001. Bryant’s case was dropped after evidence was “contaminated” and the 19-year-old refused to testify, while Oldman’s accusation was settled outside of court. Their prominent presence at the Oscars points to the pressing need for continued conversations about what accountability and, critically, reconciliation should look like both within and beyond the entertainment industry.

Despite these many hurdles, this year’s Oscars demonstrated a collective desire for change, while the establishment of Time’s Up suggests that the movement for change within Hollywood is far more than just a passing fad.