The Oscars and Hashtag Activism


Growing up, my family never made a tradition out of watching award shows.  While I usually will always look at the list of nominees, I rarely feel incentivized to tune into the actual show.  However, this year it was different.  The two hashtags, #AskHerMore and #OscarsSoWhite, and the conversations happening around them, made me want to watch and see what impact, if any, they would have on the Oscars.

#AskHerMore is a campaign created during last year’s award season by The Representation Project that implores red carpet reporters to ask the actresses more than just “Who are you wearing?”  The dynamics of this hashtag are interesting because you have the arrival of the celebrities on the red carpet has become an event in and of itself; but, we do also see a differentiation in the types of questions that are asked of male and female celebrities.  Additionally, to the fashion designers, the red carpet is great publicity and many people do care to know what the celebrities are actually wearing.  My opinion?  I definitely think red carpet reporting can and should be more balanced as many of the celebrities have varying backstories and causes they are passionate about and to me, that is just as interesting as what they wear.

#OscarsSoWhite, was started in January by lawyer April Reign who wanted to express her frustration with the lack of diversity in this year’s pool of Oscar nominees.  A Forbes article notes that the tweet went viral with 95,000 tweets per hour.  For the first time in almost 20 years, everyone nominated for an acting award is white.  Host, Neil Patrick Harris even acknowledged it with a “too soon” joke.

While it is great that the Oscars (well, at least the host) are somewhat self aware of what some view as a problem, it doesn’t seem that they are actively taking steps to try and constructively address the problem.  So Reign, who decided she is “not going to complain about not see about not seeing faces like mine in movies, then turn around & give the #Oscars 3 hours of ratings.” and instead hosted a Q&A with Actress Aunjanue Ellis from the Book of Negroes series from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.  She didn’t appear to be alone in her boycott either as more than 10,000 people tweeted about the boycott yesterday.  Of course, it is hard to say how much of these users contributed to the 17% decrease in viewers from the previous year, but I think it would be an uwise move to completely write off activism inspired by the hashtag.

Academy Awards Infographic 18 24 - FINAL - REVISED 2-24-2014

In this infographic, you can see just how “diverse” the Academy and its winners are when it comes to both race and sex.

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One Response to The Oscars and Hashtag Activism

  1. sydhavely says:

    Important post, K’Shelle. Perceptive, well-researched, and fair and balanced with your own opinion clearly delineated. Great post and well-written.

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