The Oscars are trying to be woke AF this year, and it almost feels sincere.
Actresses Ashley Judd, Annabella Sciorra, and Salma Hayek—all of whom have accused producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment—presented a montage dedicated to representation in Hollywood, highlighting attempts to diversify to stories that are told on the big screen.
“The changes we’re witnessing are being driven by the powerful sound of new voices, of different voices, of our voices, joining together in a mighty chorus that is finally saying, times up,” said Judd.
“We salute those unstoppable spirits who kicked ass and broke through the bias perceptions against their gender, their race, and their ethnicity to tell their stories,” said Hayek.
The montage featured Greta Gerwig, Ava Duvernay, Kumail Nanjiani, and other marginalized celebrities discussing the joys of seeing their identities reflected in film over the past year, and the lengths that the industry still has to go.
It was a clear attempt to wash off the stink of rampant sexual harassment allegations and racism in Hollywood, and it was mostly harmless. But hearing celebrities plead with women/people of color to make films so that they, too, can have a part in shifting the tide felt a little tone deaf. It’s not as if marginalized people don’t have amazing ideas for movies, or that they’re simply too cowed to follow their dreams. This is more a matter of access than ability or nerve.
Also, I’m not sure how I feel about someone like Sarah Silverman—who has literally performed in blackface—as the face for change in Hollywood. And given the fact that the Oscars presented Gary Oldman—a man who has been accused of domestic assault and has had to apologize for antisemitic comments—with an Oscar for Best Actor tonight? And that Kobe Bryant, accused of rape in 2003, was also recognized by the Academy? This doesn’t exactly feel like the start of a brand new Hollywood.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this post identified Oldman’s comments as racist.