As The Spectator's own Emily Zanotti covered yesterday, it's that magical time of year when those who toil in the normally unrewarding and altruistic film industry take time away from the hustle and bustle of Tinseltown to recognize...themselves. The Golden Globes are nearly one week behind us, but those who long for the high glamour of Hollywood award shows need not fret. The Academy Award nominations are out.
In a bid to be even less sympathetic than our spoiled and politically misguided entertainers, MSNBC's Krystal Ball stepped in to ruin the fun. Like the child protagonist in the film "The Sixth Sense," Ms. Ball is capable of seeing phantoms the rest of us can't. Her name is apt for someone who can divine things that aren't there. Apparently, per Ms. Ball, it is sexist and "anachronistic" that there are separate Oscar categories for actors and actresses. They should all be lumped together into one category (H/T Mediaite). In support of her argument, Ball pointed to a 2012 study that indicated that only 11 percent of the leads in the top 100 grossing films of 2011 were female. Separate Oscar categories, she says, just cover up this imbalance.
The problem is that Ms. Ball is arguing that there "should" be a balanced number of movies with female protagonists. Of course she is wrong. Hollywood need only make movies which people are interested in paying to see. The "Madea" movies which have been a staple at cineplexes over the past ten years are a prime example. Many of us scratch our heads at those ostensible family comedies in which filmmaker Tyler Perry dons a housedress and a wig to play a sharp-tongued African-American grandmother. But owing to massive box office takes from largely black audiences, Perry has become a billionaire. I say more power to him. People vote with their dollars.
And just because films with female leads are not typically grossing as well, it doesn't mean that there aren't some excellent ones being committed to celluloid. The bleak 2010 independent drama "Winter's Bone" is one of my favorite films of the past five years. The performance of Jennifer Lawrence was a revelation, and in fact she would go on to win an Academy Award for best actress for her work in 2012's "Silver Linings Playbook." It is worth noting that Ms. Lawrence played a strong female protagonist in 2013's top grossing film "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," which edged out the traditional male superhero film "Iron Man 3." That the top-grossing film last year featured a female lead should please Ball, but she is too busy doing diversity bean-counting. It's not enough that people will choose to see the films they want and sometimes these will feature women. We must have parity.
Of course if Ball got her wish and actors of all genders competed against each other, she would complain if women didn't win often enough to her liking. But that's how it goes with forced-diversity-mongers. Take the much heralded film "12 Years a Slave" which won the Golden Globe last week for best motion picture in the drama category. This is perhaps the most prestigious award of the night. But this wasn't enough to placate advocates upset that the film's African-American cast didn't win any awards. Predictably, they cried racism and called it a snub of black Hollywood. Perhaps I am lame because I don't have use of Krystal Ball's crystal ball, but if you can explain how a racist snub occured there, you're more clever than I. Just because women star in movies, it does not mean that they will necessarily be among the highest grossing. Just because people from a certain race deserve nominations for awards, it does not mean that they will necessarily win. That's not bigotry. It's reality.