Should gender be suppressed at film awards?

Ines Paris
Film director

Meryl Streep contra Ryan Goslyn

The Oscars have decided to eliminate the difference between awards for best actor and actress, so this year Meryl and Ryan will compete directly. Is this true? No … what I am going to propose is just an imaginative exercise. Meryl is a star of the cinematic firmament. However, in recent years he has shot much less than Ryan, why? She is a woman and over 40 years old.

Being an actress, as the Geena Davis Institute reports explain, means that the characters she is going to offer you are not protagonists (only 17% of the annual production). When a female character is the protagonist, they speak three times less than a male, so you won’t have as much screen time as they do. Age is another essential factor for Meryl to receive fewer offers because, although almost 54% of American society is over fifty years old, the characters of that age are only 9% in all films. And women even less. (To all this, films starring women collect 15% more at the box office, but that is not valued by the producers, anyway). Consequence: Meryl, in those awards that do not differentiate actor or actress, will have to compete with Ryan starting from less interesting characters, with less text and fewer shots. It’s fair?

And now we go to Spain: The San Sebastián Film Festival has eliminated the difference between awards for best actor and actress. Yes, in this case it is true. With what argument? Saying that they contribute to ending sexism in the cinema. Is this true? No, it is a fallacy and very dangerous. To say that men and women are equal means that we must be equal in terms of rights and possibilities and that we must destroy the legal, educational or ideological barriers that prevent it.

We want an award for the best female performance in San Sebastián, at least until we live in a world where being a woman does not harm your professional career

Equality does not mean that men and women are “identical” because objectively we are not. There are biological differences that are part of the diversity of our world. And there are structural inequalities that do not disappear because they are not named. In Spain, actresses work less, earn less and work without a contract more often. One of the most effective and important ways to fight for equality is to achieve a television and a cinema where there are female protagonists, of all ages and aspects, who respond to the reality of women and their dreams.

And for these characters to exist, there must be actresses with the same possibilities as their male companions, who earn as much as they do and who have prestige (the one that awards the prizes). Actresses who will be role models for future generations …

Ladies and gentlemen, the world is not going to be fairer because we decide not to appoint women but because they are empowered. We want an award for the best female performance in San Sebastián, at least until we live in a world where being a woman does not harm your professional career.

Pilar G. Almansa
Actress and playwright

May all mistakes be like this

The revolution is also going to be wrong. That is what has happened at the San Sebastian Festival. Eliminating the categories of best actor and best actress to merge them into one of better interpretation is part of those measures full of good intentions, but that at this moment in the fight for equality is possibly a mistake.

Experience shows us to date that in prizes in which the space of women is not distinguished from that of men, they tend to end up dominated by the second. Eliminating a formalized opportunity for visibility for women places the responsibility of applying the gender perspective on the people who make decisions, that is, on the individual will, not on the system, just the problem that feminists have been fighting against. years.

To these reflections is added another, of a sectorial nature: the awards are a mechanism of recognition, but also of professional projection. Being visible in the entertainment world is the only guarantee to be able to continue working. If the rest of the festivals and awards followed this example, we would reduce to 50% the possibilities of all the actors to improve their professional position. If extending the merger of both categories does not benefit the industry as a whole, it may not be such a good idea.

On the other hand, the festival has made a utopian decision, which tries to recognize a reality that does not yet exist: real equality. To this is added the purpose of not excluding from the awards the myriad sexual identities that are beginning to be recognized and visible in society as a whole. From that point of view, the festival would be taking a giant step on the road to full equality.

We must acknowledge the courage of those responsible for the festival in adopting this measure. It must be read for what it is, a serious commitment from a relevant organization to equality

From the same caring place from which this decision was made, other formulas should be thought of that, maintaining the spirit, instead of closing possibilities open them: awards for the best performance of drama, comedy, horror, musical … Awards for the best cast. Awards for the best monologue. Awards for the best interpretation in a second language. Awards that are added to the already existing categories of best leading performance and best supporting performance, and that may be more in line with the reality of acting work. For now, the most sensible thing to do would be to rectify and return the categories of best actress and actor to the track record, while looking for mechanisms to guarantee equality in the prizes, regardless of the will of their organizers.

I believe that the courage of those responsible for the festival in adopting this measure must be recognized and applauded. It must be read for what it is, a serious commitment from a relevant organization to equality. But it is a mistake … and nothing happens: there is no instruction manual on how to build a more just world. Better to be wrong by action than by inaction, may all errors be like that, please! Now is the time to rectify and think again about how to do better. This is how the revolution is made.