Monday, 29 February 2016

General: Academy Awards 2016 Fashion

Last year I wrote a full fashion report about the hits and misses at the 2015 Academy Awards. This year I'll concentrate on one woman: Jenny Beavan, who received an Oscar for Best Costume Design.

A lot of fuss has been made this year about the lack of racial diversity. The Film Academy has been criticised for not nominating any black actors or directors. Several big stars, such as the massively overpaid Will Smith, boycotted the awards ceremony to show their objection. What does Will Smith want? Does he expect a quota, that at least two films with black actors or directors should be nominated in each category? He's either a fool or a hypocrite. I suspect the latter. He's just annoyed that his 2015 film, "Concussion", wasn't good enough to receive any nominations.

The problem doesn't lie with the Academy. The Academy merely decides which films are the best. It could be argued that black actors aren't given enough good roles, but I think the opposite is the case. Black actors are given too many roles in Hollywood purely because of their colour. Look at Michael Jordan in the "Fantastic Four". A black man was picked to play a blond-haired racing car fanatic, with the sole purpose of attracting black movie-goers. Apart from being miscast, his performance was abysmal. Idris Elba is a better actor, but he's still out of place playing the Norse God Heimdall in "Thor". What else does Will Smith want? Did he want the lead role in "The Revenant", just because it's his right due to his skin colour? He would have ruined the film, like he's ruined many other films in the past.

There is no problem with racism at the Academy Awards. When black actors and directors make good films they'll be recognised. They have made better films in the past, and they can do so again.

However, yesterday's Academy Awards revealed a big problem that has to be dealt with: sexism. Women who visit the awards ceremony are expected to dress a certain way. They're supposed to look beautiful and glamorous. I'm the last person to complain about women looking beautiful, but if a woman wants to look different she should be allowed to. British costume designer Jenny Beavan turned up to the awards ceremony in a leather jacket with a scarf round her neck. When she walked up to receive her Oscar for "Mad Max: Fury Road" the reaction of the audience was amazing. Some men looked shocked. Some men and women were laughing at her. Very few people were applauding.

Cate Blanchett is elegant, wearing a dress that costs more than a month's income for an average family. She has to walk slowly so that she doesn't trip over when it drags on the floor. Jenny Beavan is wearing simple clothes in which she feels comfortable. Which is better? I think that both outfits are as good as one another, but my sympathies are with Jenny.

Jenny isn't a tramp or a "bag lady", as she's been called. She's a costume designer. She understands fashion. She could probably design an even better dress for Cate, but she wouldn't wear it herself. She knows what she's doing. She's making a deliberate fashion statement.

Let's solve this problem. At next year's Academy Awards ceremony we want to see more women dressed like Jenny Beavan. Deliberately or not, she's become a champion for women's rights.

Here's a link to a video of Jenny walking to the stage. How many of the stars do you recognise who are sitting staring at her, refusing to applaud, or even sitting and laughing at her? There's no racial difference when it comes to sexism. Black men and white men are united in refusing to congratulate Jenny on her win.


  1. Steven fry didn't mean to call her 'bag lady' other than in jest. Apparently they are quite good friends.

    1. Yes, it's obvious Stephen Fry was joking. Anyone who knows him at all would know that. It's not the sort of opinion he would have about any lady in the film business, even if they weren't friends. I don't understand all the fuss about it. Why did this lead to him deleting his Twitter account?


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