BAFTA's Inclusivity Policy Isn't PC Culture Run Amok
I, like many of you, saw Rogue One over the weekend. I loved the shit out of it. Literally every concern I had based on the trailers was resolved, and resolved beautifully. There were parts where I cheered. It was great.
And it was painfully lacking in women. I need to be very clear here: the lack of women does not, in any way, make Rogue One a bad movie. It’s a great movie, people should still see it, people should still love it. But the lack of female characters other than Jyn and Mon Mothma is a flaw, and one that was noticed by people other than just me. And I have to emphasize Martinelli’s point about the lack of women being distracting. I didn’t go into the movie thinking “I’m going to SJW all over this shit.” (That, by the way, is exactly what every SJW says to themselves before engaging in any activity.) I instead was eagerly watching a movie I really enjoyed when I noticed:
“Hey, that’s a lot of dude going on.”
I’m not arguing that all or even most of those characters should have been played by women. But could we get somewhere near half? Or at least two women on screen for most of the movie? Again as Martinelli points out, there are more than a few scenes that have background characters that could have been played by women. Why weren’t they? (And before anyone jumps to the comments to point out that having women enlisted in a rebel army isn’t “realistic,” I need you to stop and really think about the things existing in a Star Wars movie that you’re willing to accept as possible, and why this issue is the one that you insist be “realistic.”)
All of which dovetails nicely for me with the recent announcement that, starting in 2019, films that don’t demonstrate inclusivity by having both diverse casts and crews as well as audience appeal will not be considered for BAFTA’s Outstanding British Film or Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director, or Producer awards. Surprising exactly no one, this announcement has led to complaints of “PC culture run amok” (amok really should be thanking internet commenters for bringing it back), and “SJW’s ruining my shit.”
Of course, this isn’t actually anything new. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts is a private organization that gets to decide which movies are worthy of awards. And in addition to the fact that they’ve already excluded whole categories of films (sorry, comedies, you’re just not up to par), there’s the fact that the Academy should be concerned with the process of film-making, and not just the films. Meaning in the same way that government gets to set limits and expectations on federal contracts, BAFTA gets to tell film makers what kinds of movies they’ll accept. BAFTA, and everyone else who took a second considering it, would recognize a giant underlying problem: films that cast mostly men are employing very few women. The same is true for movies with single characters meant for people of color, gay or lesbian actors, trans actors (sometimes), and so on and so forth with any actor who isn’t a white man.
Which is the real reason why this announcement, as opposed to a subtle shift in the kinds of movies being nominated, is important. There’s the artistic side including equal representation, and then there’s the “this is my actual fucking job” side. Basically all BAFTA is saying is that films can’t continue hiring only white men on their movies and expect to be rewarded for it. That’s not oppression, it’s just common sense.