Opinion

MSNBC host argues separate awards for actors and actresses is sexist

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Image credit: www.hollywoodreporter.com

The Academy Awards is promoting sexism by having separate “Best Actor” and “Best Actress” categories, an MSNBC host said this week.

The Oscar nominees, announced early Thursday morning, were naturally one of the topics of conversation on that day’s “The Cycle,” with the panelists naming their personal favorites — until they got to Krystal Ball.

“One thing that struck me this year that hasn’t struck me in the past is that it seems kind on anachronistic to me that they separate the men and the women in the awards,” she said.

Um, you just realized that? They’ve had separate categories since 1929.

Ball added:

I know they want to give out more awards. But why do you have to separate it into this best actor and best actress? Why can’t they all compete against each other? It just struck me this year as a bit off. When you look at the numbers, we still have a situation where out of all of the movies in 2011, for example, only 11 percent of the protagonists were female. So I almost feel like by having these separate categories, we’re masking the fact that we still have a very male-dominated film industry.

The rest of the panel disagreed.

“But I would say that genders play different roles in film just like they do in everyday life,” Abby Huntsman said. “I don’t know. Also, you give people more opportunity. If they’re all in the same category, there’s only one winner.”

Imagine that. Intelligent life does exist on MSNBC. But Ball wasn’t buying it.

“We just had the graph of women are also — they’re not only less likely to be the protagonist, only 11 percent of the protagonists, but they’re also much less likely to be cast as leaders, whether it’s political leaders, or science, across fields,” she insisted. “So you’re right that they are being cast in different roles, but I think that is part of the problem.”

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Okay, let’s assume we decide to eliminate what Ball sees as the sexist element from the Academy Awards. What happens if the 2015 nominees for Best Actor/Actress include five men and one woman?

Ball will be complaining a year from now about the total lack of diversity that the Academy brings to the event. What would be her remedy? An affirmative action program.

A cinematic production of “Little Women” would be renamed “Two Little Women, and Two Little Dudes.” Worse yet, the producers may keep the original title but have two cross-dressing men play the roles of half of the quartet of sisters.

We’ve already fallen into this whole diversity/affirmative action trap in other aspects of our lives. Let’s not force the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences into the same quagmire.

Watch the exchange, via MSNBC.

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