The 2016 #OscarsSoWhite campaign solidified one thing that woman and minority filmmakers have known for years — the Oscars were not recognizing the efforts of these talented Hollywood players, instead choosing to award a majority of winners who were white and male. The push for diversity is happening, but is it coming quickly enough? Take, for instance, the 2018 Best Director Oscar — both Jordan Peele (for Get Out) and Greta Gerwig (for Lady Bird) were nominated, but Guillermo Del Toro won for his turn directing The Shape Of Water. One presenter couldn't let these uneven nominees go — Emma Stone called out "four men and Greta Gerwig" when announcing the Best Director nominees.
The nominees for the 2018 Academy Award, by the way, for Best Director were Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water; Christopher Nolan for Dunkirk; Jordan Peele for Get Out; Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird; and Paul Thomas Anderson for Phantom Thread. Notice something there? Yeah, there are four men in that group, and only one woman. Since women make up a little more than 50 percent of the population on the Earth, that number should be two out of five nominees or, hell, even three out of five. Yet Gerwig's nomination made her the first woman to be nominated for Best Director in nearly a decade (Jimmy Kimmel reported this on the show, too) — the last was Kathryn Bigelow, nominated in 2012 for Zero Dark Thirty, and she's the only one who actually won the award. Ever.
Stone's remarks were a piggyback off of Natalie Portman's remarks at the 2018 Golden Globes. She and Ron Howard were announcing the nominees for Best Director, and when it was Portman's turn to read off the teleprompter, Portman said, "And here are the all-male nominees.”
Reactions to Portman's comment were mixed, and, in the same vein, so were Stone's. Quite a few people commented that Stone's dig at the Academy and its lack of diversity was too simple, because it gave no mind to the racial makeup of the nominees. Yes, only one was a woman, but a black man and a Latino immigrant wrote movies about white supremacy that got nominations, too.
Most users argued that to simplify things down to gender is to ignore the long history of racial disparity in America, and that Stone's take on this concept was the opposite of intersectionality — instead, it erases the fact that two minority men were also nominated for the same award as one woman. Is it perfect? No, certainly not — but it is progress, and that, at this point in this messed up world, is what everyone is just waiting and hoping for.
Stone was once wrapped up in her own whitewashing controversy. She starred in the 2015 film Aloha, playing a character that was supposed to be of Asian descent. And well, things didn't go that well for her. Luckily, she claims to have learned a huge lesson about representation and why it matters. Stone told Vanity Fair, “I’ve learned on a macro level about the insane history of whitewashing in Hollywood and how prevalent the problem truly is. It’s ignited a conversation that’s very important." She did defend Cameron Crowe, her director in Aloha, though, saying in the same interview, “The character was not supposed to look like her background. Which was a quarter Hawaiian and a quarter Chinese.”
If that macro level is where Stone is starting in examining her own whiteness in relation to the world around her, that's great. Everyone has to start somewhere, and everyone has to check their privilege in some way. Hopefully, this is Stone's moment to reflect and check back in on what the rest of the world is saying back.