COLUMN: Dear Academy, do better


Katja Benz

Katja Benz, Columnist

The 94th Academy Awards premiered Sunday March 27. I didn’t watch them.

They haven’t been of particular interest to me in a couple of years: I was mostly really busy and couldn’t spend time watching them.

However, after a while, I just wasn’t interested in watching them anymore, which was ironic because my dream job is to write an Oscar winning movie (yes, I know that’s unrealistic and never going to happen).

I always enjoyed watching the movies that were nominated for Oscars more than the show itself because then I wouldn’t have to sit through commercials, and I always found the speeches boring.

My boyfriend and I came up with a list of our top ten favorite movies recently. When we have a movie date, we take turns choosing a movie from our respective lists.

I looked through the list recently and noticed that a good number of the movies on both of our lists were nominated for Academy Awards. I noticed that all of them were directed by men and only one of those was a person of color.

Until a couple of years ago, I didn’t think anything about who directed or wrote or produced any Academy Award winner. I was just concerned with if I had seen any movies nominated and if I liked them.

As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve started noticing the hypocrisies in who the Academy nominates and who ends up winning any given award.

When I was doing research for this article, I came across an NPR article that said that the 2020 winner of ‘Best Picture,’ Chloe Zhao, was the first woman of color to win best director for directing ‘Nomadland.’ She was also the first woman to be nominated for four different Academy Awards at one show.

The first woman to win best picture, according to the article, was Katheryn Bigelow, who directed ‘The Hurt Locker.’

I think that the Academy is sexist, and that they can and should be doing better. There needs to be more diversity in who they nominate for the awards such as best director.

By diversifying the nominees for each category, it shows underrepresented and minority groups that they deserve awards just as much as the white male directors get.

It’s one thing to just say diversify the nominations. I feel like that’s the easiest way out. The harder way is actually picking them because that makes their job more difficult?

Maybe a minority director’s perspective is better suited for the award than one of a white man. Maybe their experiences better contribute to the portrayal of a story than a white man’s ever could.

So, pick the minority choice. Pick the choice that changes the rhetoric. Pick the choice that changes the world. Pick the choice that changes someone’s life. Pick the choice that gets you to fall in love with film again.

I doubt that movie will be directed by a white man.

Katja Benz is a junior English major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].