We’ve heard a lot in recent months about the horrible things that powerful Hollywood men do behind closed office or hotel room doors, and the negative impact this has on the careers and mental health of women in the industry.
Surprisingly though, in the run-up to the biggest starry night of Tinseltown, we haven’t heard a peep about that time the Academy Awards broadcast a song-and-dance number reminding female actresses that, whatever they’ve accomplished in their careers, and however many awards their talent may earn them, the really crucial thing about them is that “We Saw Your Boobs.”
Sure, Seth McFarlane’s hosting gig was 5 years ago now. But just because the Academy didn’t say anything then doesn’t mean an apology isn’t still owed now.
Go look at it on Youtube if you must. Remind yourself of the smug expressions on the cadre of suited singing men. Of the many intercut reaction shots of mortified women who can’t believe this is happening, or are making a heroic effort to look amused (because cool girls have a sense of humor, even when the joke’s on them, right?).
The Oscars is basically Hollywood’s annual office holiday party: it’s technically “after hours,” you’re not precisely on the job, yet neither are you precisely off the clock. (As Tina Fey wittily pointed out, most actresses spend as much time dressing for the ceremony as one would for those physically transformed acting roles the Academy loves to award.) At an office party, outrageous behavior can still lead to consequences for your career. At an office party, a man with some power in your field who hits on or objectifies you is still a candidate for a chat from HR.
So when an organization commissions a man to speak for them — which is what an MC does, albeit with jokes — and that man performs a staged, rehearsed number that is simply a list of female actors and the movies in which their secondary sexual characteristics are visible — doesn’t that organization bear a fair amount of responsibility for reducing and demeaning those actors in what was supposed to, you know, a positive moment for them? And for throwing another log on the trashcan fire that is the workplace environment of women in Hollywood?