Good news is so hard to come by these days, it seemed that the Alabama Senate race would be all we were given for awhile. I’m so happy to be wrong.
While the more prominent story has focused on the actors nominated for a SAG award today, the bigger story is what they announced about the show itself. For the first time ever, the Screen Actors Guild Awards announced today that it will be responding directly and pointedly to the #metoo movement by boasting a show with all-female presenters. This is after news that Kristen Bell will also be its first-ever host. They’re going full Themyscira (Wonder Woman’s all-female island) and I am HERE FOR IT. This is such a powerful, non-threatening, yet effective stand for empowerment and equality in the industry.
Some argue that award shows are fluff and shouldn’t be political. These people have no clue that in 2017, everything is political, aside from the fact that the art and work that Hollywood puts out is anything but apolitical (ahem, The Handmaid’s Tale). The award shows that celebrate that work has the right (and really, the responsibility) to use its platform as a megaphone for what is happening in the culture at best, but the industry at least.
Hollywood is at the center of this national conversation around sexual assault and harassment. These stories of harassment, assault, misconduct, violation, intimidation, and humiliation continue to pour out at a staggering rate. Therefore, it stands to reason that the award shows that reflect this industry’s work over the past year also reflect the culture within it and around it.
Let’s break this move by the SAG Awards down a bit. Presenting at an award show is a big deal. It gets your face out there, your outfit (so subsequently the designer, your stylist, your make-up artist, your hair stylist and all of their work) out there, it reminds people who you are, or gives newcomers the opportunity to introduce themselves to the public at large, sets a stage for the films/tv you are promoting, and is also an honor to be acknowledged as interesting/important enough to be on that stage. These are also the things I can think of off the top of my head as a decided Hollywood outsider. I’m sure there’s even more benefits I couldn’t possibly know about.
The presenters have to rehearse, give interviews and sound bites about what they are presenting, possibly record voice-overs, and if they make their stint on stage memorable enough, they may find their names trending on social media that night. All good for their brand, their work. It may be a fun part of the job, but it’s still work. It’s all part of the celebrity game. Those who are chosen are done so carefully, and those who do it, do so with full knowledge of the benefits.
Most importantly, by literally putting women center stage, the SAG Awards supports the spirit of #metoo by lending its platform to the voices, perspectives, stories, and hard work of women.
Therefore, it’s a big deal to not only give these coveted presenter spots to women in the industry who may otherwise have been overlooked or underutilized due to half of the spots being reserved for men, but also acts as a gentle, yet firm message to the men in the industry. There are consequences, potentially industry-wide, and the women who call the shots will use their power to uplift, empower, and shut out, as needed.
The question now remains, what will this mean for the other award shows? Will this announcement prompt a frantic rebuttal by the Golden Globes whose preference it is to be boozy and searing? Will it force an otherwise mute and stuffy Academy to take a stand?
Because so many of these stories coming out of Hollywood have come from the very same people who will be attending these award shows, it would be grossly misguided and ignorant to ignore. We, as an audience, want to hear and see measured, thoughtful responses like this. There is no large rug to shove this under. We are well aware that the Emperor has no boundaries and hurts women. The jig is up. What are you going to do about it?
This is such a smart, classy, and bold move for the SAG Awards; at once compassionately supportive and deliciously subversive. One that is going to make people pay attention. A call to action for others to step up with a shining example on how to respond to a historic turning of tides with grace, courage, and guile.
Don’t forget to tune in for this badass event: January 21, 2018 on TNT or TBS.