When I wrote my original review of the Oscars on Monday morning, I evaluated the ceremony in terms of entertainment value. I considered the show a successful spectacle, complete with dynamite performances from the likes of Adele, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Jennifer Hudson, as well as heartfelt speeches, and a fabulous light show, all of which took place among host Seth MacFarlane's uncomfortable and inappropriate jokes.
But after an in-class conversation in my Sex and Sexualities class on Monday afternoon, I've decided that the entertainment value is not the most important issue at hand. The ceremony needs to be evaluated for its sexist content and for the way it celebrated and reinforced patriarchal values to a billion viewers worldwide. From McFarlane's tasteless "We Saw Your Boobs" opening number to his final disgusting jab at nine-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis, both the host and the Academy proved that the feminist cause still has so, so far to go.
For my final project, I propose to write a critical essay in which I consider the Academy Awards ceremony through a feminist lens. Specifically I want to look at the moments in the ceremony in which women were devalued, degraded, mocked, humiliated, categorized, labeled, and objectified. I want to revisit MacFarlane's opening number which, in four instances, glorified the breasts shown in rape scenes, as well as made the viewer of these scenes resolutely male.
I want to look at how MacFarlane's comments about Rhianna and Chris Brown's relationship only perpetuate violence against women. As Amy Davidson from the New Yorker points out, relationships are complicated and if any woman who goes back to an abusive relationship is told she has forfeited sympathy and is now an object of mockery, we're going to end up with more dead women.
I want to consider how the female body is an object for men to control, discuss, and criticize. I want to bring up issues of weight, eating disorders, and body image. I want to look at why a black female child was pushed to the forefront of MacFarlane's jokes. (Was Dakota Fanning ever mocked like this?)
I want to pair all of these moments with women's actual performances during the Oscars which, to me, prove that women work harder and are a hell of a lot smarter than MacFarlane could ever hope to be. (Adele showed Hugh Jackman up, Jennifer Lawrence waved off male assistance when she fell, Meryl Streep didn't even need an introduction.)
It's important and necessary to point out that what many women strive to do in the entertainment industry is seriously under-valued and over-criticized. That's precisely what I aim to do in this final project.
By re-watching the Oscars, using my course material from Sex and Sexualities, and reading up on other publications' takes on the ceremony, I will be able to craft a well-informed and well-argued piece.