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What Needs to Change About Award Shows

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It is probably recognisable to all, that although diversity in award shows has been a problem since their origin, it was the 2015, then the 2016 Oscars that brought the issue to the forefront of people’s minds. It was the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, created in 2015, then continued by the public after the still ‘So White’ nominations in 2016, that took hold of social media and demanded the attention that the issue has so long deserved.

In the last year, however, we have seen the arrival of gender-neutral awards encouraged by the MTV and TV music awards. The public’s reaction was generally positive to the wins of Emma Watson and Millie Bobby Brown who both taking home awards in their mixed gender categories.

Having questioned the following, here are some responses from students at the University of Kent on the matter:

‘Oh I love Emma Watson, it was such a dream for me to see her win an award which is so groundbreaking.’ – Sophie Heard, fresher, studies Drama.

‘I love that such a strong feminist won the first gender neutral award, I just think it’s so fitting’ – Elena Coombe, fresher, studies Physics and Astrophysics.

Despite the apparent progress there has been some controversy in the proposed system. Some women are worried that females are still not represented enough in the entertainment industry, if gender neutral awards were to become mainstream it may lead to women losing out not only on awards, but on nominations too.

On the other hand, are we really expected to stick to a system which was created to put women aside in a separate category so they could have the opportunity to win some awards alongside men? Furthermore, are we expected to not attempt to change a system in which one of the biggest award shows of the year, the Oscars, has been so non-inclusive that a hashtag had to be started in order to raise attention and make a change?

Although this may be the opinion of many there are others who believe that providing a more inclusive environment would be detrimental, for example

This attitude here can be seen to reflect the apparent unyielding oppressive nature of these award shows, and it’s this attitude we should wish to quash. This woman has so little faith in the Oscars that she thinks black people should retreat from them altogether. This is painfully disgraceful and everyone worldwide who’s involved in these events, be it viewer, celebrity, or producer, should be making every effort possible to change the course of, not just the Oscars, but all of these award shows. They should be made more inclusive, and allow everyone an equal chance to get the credit due for their work.

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