In a dose of good news, The Hollywood Reporter announced this year's Screen Actors Guild Awards will come with two major changes. For the first time ever, there will be a host — Kristen Bell. Even more excitingly, the 2018 SAG Awards will only have female presenters as a response to the sexual harassment allegations pouring out of the entertainment industry — and honestly, doesn't that sound like the change we've all been waiting for? After the allegations about film producer Harvey Weinstein's behavior came out in the open, it reinforced the idea that Hollywood can be a deeply sexist place for women to work. (Weinstein has denied all allegations of non-consensual sex through a spokesperson.) While this SAG presenter news is, on the grand scale, not an enormous change, it signals a step in the right direction.
"Beginning with the Women’s March in January, it’s been the year of the woman," SAG Awards executive producer Kathy Connell told The Hollywood Reporter. "This is a unifying salute to women who have been very brave and speaking up." Of course, men will still have some part of the ceremony — the website reported that video clips from the film ensemble category might be introduced by male actors up for a nomination, and men will also (presumably) accept awards. And that's OK, too. Connell pointed out that this will give the men who do take the stage a feeling parallel to one that many women will be familiar with — that of being vastly outnumbered by the opposite gender.
According to THR, Connell posed the question:
"How many times has a woman walked into a room of predominately men? We thought, maybe for one night, it’ll be more than 50/50 [onstage]."
Given the scandals that have dogged male Hollywood this year with allegations against Kevin Spacey, Andy Dick, Louis C.K., and many more, on one level, it’s a profoundly pragmatic choice — no last-minute switcheroos because your male presenter just got called out for sexual harassment. (Spacey tweeted of Anthony Rapp's allegations, "I honestly do not remember the encounter." Dick told The Hollywood Reporter that it was possible he may have licked people and made advances, but denied groping. C.K. owned up to his actions, which included allegedly masturbating in front of women, in a statement.)
But having all-female presenters also is a damn good idea, purely on the basis of how entertaining the presenters may be if they're paired up — something which is implied in The Hollywood Reporter article, is that usually a man and a woman would be paired to present each award. Fingers crossed this means women will be presenting in pairs. After all, was there a nicer moment during the Oscars than Janelle Monae, Taraji P. Henson, and Octavia Spencer bringing NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson onto the stage while presenting the award for best documentary feature?
And while Dolly Parton was incredible on presenting Lily Tomlin with her Lifetime Achievement Award at last year's SAG Awards, can you imagine how much more hilarious the speech would have been if Jane Fonda hadn't been too sick to attend and had been there, exchanging jokes with her? There’s an infectious joyfulness about groups of women who clearly like and admire each other that translates well to an audience at home. As such, don't rule this decision out as political-correctness — this is a very astute choice from the awards ceremony.
And it’s not just about the SAG Awards. Did any audience ever have more fun than watching Tina Fey and Amy Poehler present the Golden Globes? Presumably not, since according to Time, Fey and Poehler presented at the Golden Globes three years in a row (2013-2015). It's easy to see why they were awarded a three-year contract — the pair have an easy comic chemistry. The Los Angeles Times' Mary McNamara wrote of Fey and Poehler's 2013 performance, "Lovely, brilliant and utterly fearless, they made awards-show hosting an art form again." Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter agreed, arguing that "Fey and Poehler prove that they could be fantastic, funny hosts while also staying out of the limelight."
Switching up male/female presenter duos for just women isn't exactly reinventing the wheel, but it suggests that the tides are changing. Women are finally being given recognition and in a sexist industry like entertainment, and after a year dominated by #MeToo, that's invaluable.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.