It’s that time of year, when anonymous Oscar voters show their asses by explaining their votes to entertainment outlets. It is interesting to see the patterns that emerge, how many people confess to voting for friends, mention the preferential balloting system, and talk about “throwing away” votes. No one wants to back a loser, so a lot of people end up voting for not the best or even their favorite movie, but the frontrunner they would least mind seeing win. If that doesn’t explain pretty much everything about the Oscars, I don’t know what does.
This year’s crop of anonymous ballots reveal a voting body as split as any we’ve seen this year, in which there is no consensus pick for Best Picture. But a few things come into focus if you look across the anonymous ballots. Looks like Rami Malek has that Best Actor trophy in the bag. Alfonso Cuaron is leading the field for Best Director. “Shallow” is going to be Best Song—the surest pick for your office Oscar pool. Roma is probably the closest thing to a Best Picture front-runner we have, and Bohemian Rhapsody is likely to win at least one sound award. Ruth Carter has some support, but the costume category remains insanely competitive.
But as I said, the honest ballots are really about Academy members showing their ass, and so far, no one has bared more moon than the first anonymous voter reporting to Scott Feinberg at The Hollywood Reporter. How have these people not learned to run these responses by someone before handing them in? Every year someone says some sh-t that makes your eyes bug out, and this year is no different. This voter, who I shall call Chet, thinks Roma is an “expensive home video”, doesn’t believe the Academy has ever been racist, and refused to vote for one of the short films because it is about menstruation. Let’s break this down.
The Roma thing I’m not even going to touch, because like a film, don’t like a film—that’s a matter of taste. One of the other anonymous voters didn’t like The Favourite, which is sad for them, but that’s how this works. Not everyone likes the same stuff. But I want to address Chet’s perception of the Academy’s racism—or lack thereof—and his refusal to vote for a short about a female bodily function, because these two things are related. On the subject of racism, Chet says, “I believe, in my heart of hearts, that the Academy, even before the last few years, was not racist at all, but that its members just cared about certain issues more than others.” What Chet has just described is bias. And if the issues shoved aside are the ones that deal with racial equality and equal opportunity, then yeah, that’s racist.
So many people only see racism as a violent act. Chet is into BlacKkKlansman, it “reminds [him] that things really haven’t gotten better”. What he is reacting to is the closing piece of the film, which includes real footage from Charlottesville, where violence took a life. If that is your only perception of racism, that it is violent and life-threatening, then the more passive forms, such as institutional bias—of which the Academy is CERTAINLY guilty—aren’t going to ping your radar. Chet’s friends, like Viggo Mortensen, only use the N-word in appropriate, contextual situations, and none of them have any aggressive ill will toward people of color. Therefore: no racism.
But bias is rampant in Chet’s responses, particularly a bias against women. He likes The Favourite, it “turned [him] on”, but he “didn’t get what it was trying to say”. Well, one thing The Favourite is saying is that patriarchal society forces women into competition. But beyond the elements that can turn him on, he doesn’t see it as “solid”. Could this also be why he is so dismissive of Roma, a film about women’s experiences?
But the real kicker is his flat-out refusal to vote for the short film Period. End of Sentence. He says, “It’s well done, but it’s about women getting their period, and I don’t think any man is voting for this film because it’s just icky for men.” First of all, don’t assume every dude out there has your hang ups, CHET. Because menstruation isn’t icky for men. Men buy tampons when their partners need them, they rub sore lower backs and provide hot water bottles as needed. Men get that this is a thing that happens and can’t be helped. BOYS are grossed out by periods. BOYS can’t cope with the natural functioning of a woman’s body. Chet is a BOY.
But more than that, Chet is biased and his bias has a distinct flavor of misogyny. He doesn’t see the social relevance of The Favourite, he thinks a man telling a story about a couple of women is indulgent, he won’t even consider voting for the short about periods even though he admits it is “well done”. And I guarantee, if asked, Chet would swear up and down he is not a misogynist. He has a wife! And a daughter! And probably even a mother! He mentored a woman once and didn’t even kiss her! Chet is a model of fair and just manhood. Chet likes women just fine. He does not have a problem with women. Except that their bodies are “icky” and he thinks their stories are indulgent and irrelevant, but other than that, Chet is a model ally!
The world is full of Chets, guys who insist they’re totally 100% down with women, but who can’t quite see the intrinsic value of us as fellow human beings. We’re not “solid”, our bodies are “icky”. And it’s not that they don’t care about our issues, it’s just that they care about “certain issues more than others”, and for some reason that they just can’t quite explain, women’s issues aren’t making that list. Well it’s 2019 and I don’t have time for that sh-t, CHET. I’m here to have fun and get sh-t done. So to the Chets of the world I say, in the immortal words of Conner4real, f-ck off.