A whistleblower gave Jeff Wells the scoop at Hollywood Elsewhere that the vote by LAFCA members to go gender neutral in the acting categories was close, a squeaker. Reportedly, one single vote tipped the balance. Apparently, there was one revolutionary in the house who felt it necessary to match what other critics groups like the Gothams have done to eliminate gender. How fun!
But the vote, I’ve been told, wasn’t unanimous. In fact, it was damn near evenly split. It can be safely reported, in other words, that nearly half of LAFCA doesn’t agree with the hardcore LGBTQ-supporting woke apparatchiks within the organization.
I’m told there’s a certain Stalinist fervor within this gender-neutral cabal — a belief that they’re doing God’s revolutionary work by dissolving gender and opening things up to all sorts of wrinkles, attitudes and permutations.
There is also a conviction that anyone who doesn’t agree 100% on this issue is a naysayer or a foot-dragger, and that the apparatchicks therefore need to band together to make sure that the other side (i.e., those who believe that gender-based acting awards should be kept and that this will benefit actresses) is out-maneuvered or otherwise marginalized.
The LAFCA gang met last Saturday (10.8) in West Los Angeles, and the gender-neutral acting awards vote was 27 in favor, 22 against and with four abstentions. I’m told that the historical tendency has been for abstentions to translate into negative votes (i.e., voters who don’t necessarily agree but don’t want to argue or alienate), so let’s presume that the vote came down to 27 for, 26 against.
Silly me. I stupidly spent years writing about the lack of gender parity in film critics awards. I dutifully counted the men and the (lack of) women critics because I thought the disparity was a problem. Everyone said there was a problem. Everyone said women had to be fairly represented so that they could have a voice when it came to what kinds of films were chosen as critics’ award winners.
I boosted female critics, recommended them, and hammered it for years until at last something was done to change it. Now that they’ve come as close as they’re ever gonna get, here comes the “gender neutral” movement. It was all apparently a waste of time. Gender is a construct and all of that.
Transgender actors can of course be included when the categories are split into actor and actress, but it’s the “gender non-binary” or the “gender non-conforming” that can’t. So, to accommodate them, to make sure not one person is neglected ever, they have decided on no gender divisions for anyone. Just take them away. They don’t matter, apparently, and can be anything we say they are. If you object, they will bring down the hammer. Hard.
If you protest, you are a mean bully because online the power hierarchy has been reversed. The most marginalized groups sit at the very top and the least marginalized at the very bottom. White women no longer count as a marginalized group. White men never did. What makes you marginalized is if you are non-white. The only way for white people to be marginalized is if they are also a member of the LGBTQIA community, or disabled, or part of the fat acceptance movement. Mental health issues sometimes apply. Eating disorders and depression also sometimes mitigate some of the pressure.
What’s the problem? There is no problem if you understand this new movement. Some call it a religion, some call it a cult. This is the world they are building for themselves, their utopia. It’s a utopia like all utopias. Dissent is not allowed. Ideological non-conformity is not allowed. Utopias have really only two options for survival: totalitarianism or collapse.
The film industry, by and large, has been sucked inside this online simulacrum of utopia, and here we are. Isn’t it fun though?
In all seriousness, though, here is the real problem with “gender neutral” acting categories. As someone who has been writing about film awards for 22 years and much of that time was spent fighting for parity for women, I have lived through the era where women WERE marginalized. Yes, white women, Black women, all women. They were not central to the success of films, either at the box office or the Oscars. Activists, for years, have been fighting hard for a foot in the door for women.
What I discovered, though, after all of this time, was that they kept having to move the goal posts. It could not just be women that were advancing, but women of color. Then, it could not just be women of color it had to be trans women. And eventually, trans women of color and BIPOC. There is a long list now of all of the difference types of people and all of them are “acceptable” with protective status online.
So white women have been pushed out and no longer matter in any way as a protected, marginalized group.
If you look at the below list, you can see that just going gender neutral is a way for these film critics groups to keep up with this fast-moving ideology.
I work on a report every year for Women’s Media Center that tracks women in the Oscar nominations. You would not believe how few women are nominated every year in the writing and directing categories. We have to measure the non-acting categories only because the acting categories have separate categories for Lead and Supporting. At least there, that always ensures 10 women are nominated.
Where the Oscars are concerned, women have traditionally been left off of the Best Director list until recently, after much screeching by people like me for years and years and years.
Now, as if things couldn’t get any more insane, the BAFTA, in an attempt to reach gender parity, has now forced their members to choose half women and half men. Once they have a list of 10 that has reached gender parity, they then allow the members to nominate five off of that list.
I have always wanted there to be a separate category for women directors at the Oscars and the DGA. So that there would be five of each. But everyone always no, we can’t do that. We have to allow women to compete head to head with their male counterparts. So either women are nominated at the pleasure of the “woke” voters or they’re left off and that is that.
Some years, like this one and last one, where women are more prominent in prestige film projects, it might not seem like that big of a deal to have “gender neutral” acting categories. What’s the problem, people think. Look at all the great parts for women. But it is only like that because of activism forcing the industry to start putting women behind the camera, start funding movies about women.
But we never would have gotten here without the discussion of gender. How else to determine it?
It’s a strange time to be alive, that’s for sure. We are hard-liners when it comes to race and cultural appropriation. But fluid where gender is concerned.
White people are still the majority population, yet to be a non-marginalized white person in real life is to be exiled online with no real protective status. If they want to be part of the vibrant new movement of the “woketopians” the only thing they can change is their gender, which they can sculpt and define and redefine as they see fit. Once they declare that status online, they have instant protective status.
They don’t see it as protective status, though. They see themselves as constantly being harassed, abused, attacked, and threatened by trolls, or people on the Right. And there is no doubt some truth to that. Online, there is plenty of hate to go around, that’s for sure.
I don’t think there is any point in protesting something like “gender-neutral acting categories” at the Los Angeles Film Critics Awards. I mean, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but we’ve just about reached a saturation point where film critics and film critics awards are concerned anyway. I’m not even sure, at this point, what purpose they ultimately serve.
That is why hopefully the Oscars will resist the urge to become part of this new religion. It might feel very big online. It might seem like nothing and no one exists outside of it. But that is what being online does to you. It distorts reality. The Academy must always remember that it’s meant to serve a much larger population — the gen pop.
Critics groups will become more insular, more online, and that will serve them well, I figure, in the coming years. It’s just yet another reason I hope that the Academy remembers that they aren’t critics. They’re still whatever is left of the film industry.
Maybe it isn’t a negative. Maybe it won’t hurt or erase women. Maybe they’ll be able to scrabble for attention. But remember, women competing against women is one thing. Women competing against men is a whole different thing. Men tend to get more of the great roles. They tend to get the transformative roles. Women have to fight for them. Having the guarantee of special consideration against other women is a way to ensure equal representation. But I guess we’re now living in a post-woman era. Maybe even eventually, a post-human era. The singularity at last!
If you live long enough, my friends, the evolving world will blow your mind.