The Lion's Roar

Eighty years too long

Larshell Green

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With the announcement of Rachel Morrison becoming the first woman at the Oscars to be nominated for Best Cinematography for the film “Mudbound,” one would say that this is a giant middle finger to the males and females accused of sexual harassment and abuse and those who have not been in support of equality. 

For those of you who don’t know what the cinematography category is for, it is intended to honor the best directors of photography of the nominated films. 

Morrison is not the only Oscar nominee to make history. According to the article “5 Ways 2018 Oscar Nominees are Making History” in Rolling Stone Magazine by Joyce Chen, Jordan Peele is only the fifth black director to be nominated for his film “Get Out.” Greta Gerwig is only the fifth female director to be nominated overall and the first female nominee in the category of Best Director in eight years for her film the “Lady Bird.” Octavia Spencer is the first black actress to receive two Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominations for her films “The Shape of Water” (2018) and “Hidden Figures” (2017). Meryl Streep is the most nominated actress at the Academy Awards. She has been nominated 21 times including this year’s Best Actress nomination for “The Post.”

These nominations are shocking, gratifying and long awaited. 

If you’ve been hiding under a rock, stranded on an island or taking a break from the media, there’s a possibility that you hadn’t heard about the #MeToo movement that became viral in October of 2017. 

The movement surfaced following the public allegations of sexual harassment against American film producer Harvey Weinstein. Soon after, both women and men from Hollywood and beyond shared their accounts of sexual abuse and harassment that occurred in the workplace, their personal lives and in other areas.

I later discovered that activist Tarana Burke started the movement in 2006 because she wanted to raise awareness of sexual abuse and assault. Her movement was popularized when actress Alyssa Milano used the hashtag #MeToo to respond to allegations of Weinstein’s abuse, and credited Burke as the original creator. 

Fast forward to the start of 2018 when members of an entire award show, the Golden Globes, gathered in solidarity against abusers by wearing all black and donning “Time’s Up” buttons, a nod to the movement against sexual harassment.

The first Academy Awards ceremony took place in 1929, which makes 80 years of females being left out of the cinematography category. To be fair, I can’t assume that every single year, there was a female cinematographer deserving of nominations, but surely there must have been at least one before now. 

I do feel that award categories should be more modern and diverse for deserving recipients. Don’t get me wrong, I also don’t think that deserving nominees should face a punishment if they aren’t diverse enough. 

In terms of the film and television industry becoming more diverse, I hope it will continue to happen. There is a growing number of directors, writers, producers and cinematographers that look like me. This is a great and powerful thing that only our society can have. We don’t know if this will happen for our next generation. In general, I would say that most of us are visual learners and remember things that we see for longer periods of time. 

When I was growing up, I did not believe that certain career opportunities were attainable to me. I lacked knowledge of careers where I could be welcomed and excel in. In my eyes, girls were supposed to be nurses, teachers and mommies. Boys were supposed to doctors, firefighters, policemen and frankly, anything else that they wanted to be. Obviously, I grew up, asked more questions, read and traveled a little to realize that I could be anything that I wanted to be as long as I had dreams, goals and plans of action. 

Even my interest in journalism did not peak until I turned 16. Nevertheless, our young girls and boys need to see someone that looks like them to reflect change. Whether that opportunity comes from the reintroduction of a movement against sexual assault, a conversation about racism or a little black girl asking her mom and teachers what she was “allowed” to do in life and being told, “anything,” it needs to happen. 

I salute you, Rachel, Jordan, Greta, Octavia, Meryl and all of the game changers that came before you and will come after you. I hope one day I can call myself one.

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