Here we go – Again! Let me repeat what I said in the first of these three sub-segments that are now individual blog entries. The final commentary of this year’s Academy Award show – The Oscars! As I mentioned in the first segment – this is a long commentary because the Academy’s President did not make a statement as the previous Academy’s President did. But there was plenty to talk about from the host, presenters and award winners. And we have finally reach the end (in parts)! But let me first give links to the first four segments in case you missed any or for quick reference:
Okay let’s explain this again. As we get onto my final Segment. And like the previous Segment that had lyrics and some presenters’ remarks typed out, transcribed and making them a bit long – this one does similarly because what is said is so important to diversity and the entertainment industry. So at first I broke this Segment into 3 sub-segments. But that doesn’t change then length. So instead this is going to be a Segment that will be in 3 blog entries. Oscar’s 90th – Segment 5 – Diversity and The Newest Hollywood Term – A, B, and C.
- Deafness disAbility
- Diversity Video Montage
- The Optional Contract Clause
This way if you feel like you get the point before I reach the end of each sub-segment (because I have been told that I can be a bit lengthy in my speech!!! Especially if it is on a topic I am passionate about!!!) you can jump over to the next sub-segment and begin that sub-section. Because this final Segment Oscar’s 90th – Segment 5 – Diversity and The Newest Hollywood Term – I have left the most important parts of this year’s Oscars when it comes to diversity, equality and inclusion within Hollywood.
And just like above giving links to the previous Segments – here is a link to the first two sub-segment of this blog entry:
So here it goes with the final of the three sub-segments!
3. The Optional Contract Clause
Here we go. The most talked about comment after the Oscars was the term spoken by the Oscar winner for Best Actress, Frances McDormand. It was a wonderful speech. She did not use any written notes. She was prepared just in case she won! But still nervous because who wouldn’t be on that stage winning such a huge award and so many people watching. And after her traditional “thank-yous” she did have something to say! Here is a link to the Oscars’ YouTube page with Frances’ win and acceptance speech.
There are no captions/subtitles available so as usual – I have written down what she said and added some actions and reactions in case they take down the video! And of course I highlighted what I felt was important or significant in ways that it can also be related to the dismissed minority of people with a disAbility!
Frances McDormand: (Nervously – voice fluttering) Okay. So, I’m hyperventilating a little bit, so if I fall over, pick me up (suddenly very serious) because I have some things to say. (Big applause and cheers from audience) (Back to being a little bit nervous and voice fluttering) So, I think this is what Chloe Kim must have felt like after doing back to back 1080s in the Olympic half pipe, did you see that? Okay, that’s what it feels like. I want to thank Martin McDonagh, look what you did. We are a bunch of hooligans, and anarchists, but we do clean up nice. I want to thank every single person in this building. And my sister, Dorothy, I love you, Dot. And I especially want to thank my clan.
Joel and Pedro McCoen, these two stalwart individuals were well-raised by their feminist mothers. They value themselves, each other and those around them. I know you are proud of me, and that fills me with everlasting joy.
And now, I want to give some perspective. (She sets her Oscar award down on the floor)
If I may be so honored to have all the female nominees in every category stand with me in this room tonight. The actors—Meryl, if you do it everyone else will (huge applause and cheers from audience as Meryl Steep and all the women nominee stand up) —the filmmakers, the producers, the directors, the writers, the cinematographers, the composers, the song writers, the designers. Come on!
Okay, look around everybody, look around, ladies and gentleman because we all have stories to tell and projects we need financed. Don’t talk to us about it at the parties tonight. Invite us into your office in a couple days or you can come to ours, whichever suits you best, and we can tell you all about them.
I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentleman, inclusion rider.
(She picks up her Oscar award and leaves the stage.)
That was powerful. Especially in showing the power of women in the entertainment industry – in Hollywood! Again, every time I see subgroups – like women, racial minorities, members of the LGBTQ community being recognized, highlighted – I cheer for them and for the hopes that the dismissed minority of people with a disAbility will one day be included with them as powerful members of the diversity group!
That brings me to the last point – the last thing that Frances’ said, “inclusion rider.” This is what I and a huge number of people were Googling to find out what that term meant! Of course I want to know because “inclusion” is what I have been diligently and passionately advocating and fighting and protesting for since I first found out how Hollywood thinks and been treating me and other people with a disAbility. In the “after the Oscar’s press conference,” Frances was asked to explain the term “inclusion rider.” She said:
“I just found out about this last week. This has always been available to all — everybody who does a negotiation on a film — which means you can ask for or demand at least 50 percent diversity in not only the casting but the crew. The fact that I just learned that after 35 years in the film business — we aren’t going back.”
The fact is that it has not “always been available” nor is it “available to all – everybody who does a negotiation on a film – which means you can ask for or demand…” As I have said, like many people I have Googled it right away and done a lot of research since and found out that where it started and what it means. It is explained in this article from Vanity Fair, Three Months After Frances McDormand’s Oscar Speech, Are Inclusion Riders Really Happening? :
“The term confused many in the audience—not to mention those watching at home—and shocked the hell out of the architect of the provision, U.S.C. professor Stacy L. Smith, who had been working tirelessly for years to design a clear protocol for improving the numbers of women and people of color in movies and television projects.
“I had no idea she knew about it,” Smith said in a recent interview about the standardized contract provision. Initially called an “equity rider,” as defined in a 2014 op-ed in The Hollywood Reporter, Smith suggested that A-list stars add a clause to their employment contracts demanding that “tertiary speaking characters match the gender distribution of the setting for the film, as long as it’s sensible to the plot.”
Obviously, Frances McDormand admitting it in the after Oscar interview that she, “just found out about this last week” she did not know all the info. She probably just heard about it broadly speaking from her agent or friend that maybe “so and so had the ‘inclusion rider’ in their contract.” She then asked them what that was and she was told it “means you can ask for or demand at least 50 percent diversity in not only the casting but the crew.”
It sounds great. But is it doable? A lot of people whether in articles or comments on online articles mention that it is about how many have the talent within the production crew. From the Vanity Fair article mentioned and linked above:
“One purpose of the inclusion rider is to try to diversify your hiring,” said one Hollywood vet. “My fear is if someone fails to hire enough women or people of color when assembling a crew, they will be skewered by the press. The situation we are now in, after years of not giving opportunities to a diverse group of people, is that there won’t always be a large pool of diverse people with experience to hire from. There is going to need to be a time where people are hired to be trained and given a chance, so that the hiring pool represents what it needs to.”
I used bold and underlined parts to emphasis a specific point. It is good to see them recognize the part of problem. Their problem. Now that some within Hollywood are asking, some requiring diverse hiring whether in front of, behind the camera or both they find themselves in a quandary. As I have been stating for what seems like forever – Hollywood use this “talent pool” excuse all the time. Yet I counter with if you never give those of us with a disAbility – or in this context – those within a diverse group – an opportunity, then what gives those within the diverse group the reason or the motivation to dream of or bother to spend the time and money to become a person educated to work in the industry, if they are not going to be hired?
First of all, it does not have to be 50% diverse hiring in cast and crew! Maybe some of these high profile actors and directors – those that have the clout – can insist on an inclusion rider that has 60-40 in cast and 80-20 in crew. Something to get the ball rolling and in which it is probable in finding diverse people who are trained and capable to do the jobs they are hired for.
And forget gender or racial hiring just for a moment – let me repeat what I have said so many times my head is about to explode. When I hear Hollywood people – the execs, actors, directors, casting directors, talent agencies, etc. say the reason they hired an able bodied actor for a paraplegic role was because they could not find anyone in the talent pool that was a paraplegic. First, I often doubt they tried or if they did they didn’t try that hard. Second, they may have found one or two para actors so they can say they tried or they honestly tried but they say that the paraplegic actor did not have the experience or the name recognition they needed for the role. Well, I first commend them for trying, but I also then ask them what gives paraplegics or others with a disAbility the motivation to become an actor if every time they see a paraplegic in a movie or television program – which is rare – that role is cast by an able bodied actor? The talent pool of paraplegics, and those with other disAbilities, is small and their name recognition is not there but who is at fault?
As he or she (the Hollywood veteran who wished to remain anonymous) mentioned in the article quoted above fears of being “skewered by the press” if they do not hire enough within the “inclusion rider” clause.
And that forcing studios and production companies to require a certain amount be “Diverse” is illegal. Again in the same Vanity Fair article:
“One entertainment attorney has expressed concerns about any type of rider that puts numbers to their hiring efforts, since affirmative action is illegal in California and quotas are unlawful nationwide.”
It appears they will be able to once again squash the quandary they find themselves in. Which is no big surprise. They get away with nearly everything. Although we have now seen the bringing down a movie mogul and a handful of movie actors for sexual misconduct, harassment, assault and even rape – which is a huge deal – but this is bringing down an industry’s SOP – Standard Operating Procedures. Forcing them into something that even as the entertainment attorney says there is no legal standing to make Hollywood become more diverse. They do not have to become more inclusive.
It is only the people that can force them into becoming more diverse. We have to rise up and demand it. But that is something that I have been trying to get people – those within the disAbility community, those within the Hollywood community and people in general to do for decades. And I feel like I have not been able to make a dent.
Hopefully with this new push – by women like Frances McDormand, racial minorities and those within the LGBQT community there will be more Hollywood shaming to include them. And as diversity grows in the industry and that they will at least consider to allow those with a disAbility ride their coat tails into the inclusion diversity – with or without contract “riders.” I feel like we have to keep the pressure on and take this opportunity to get Hollywood to help people with a disAbility get the education in the creative roles of writer, director and acting – to expand the talent pool for them to then pull from and become more diverse. It does not have to be in starring roles! Just include us in supporting roles. Small ones with a couple of lines. Even as background actors to begin with. And on writing staffs and First and Second Directors.
I have some ideas on how we can work together to get this done. Again, as I have spoken of in the blogs of the past that this will be a Win-Win-Win. That is if Hollywood will see it that way. Maybe we have to show them – with this new push for diversity – that they need to see it that way!