Oscar’s Ageism and Society’s Disposable Workers

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I’ve long had a policy of avoiding involving myself in Hollywood politics — not always easy having resided here in L.A. for my entire life to date.

But something’s going on with Oscar — or more precisely the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) — that is disturbing both in and of itself, and for what it says about our society at large (including here in the tech world).

The Academy Award (Oscar) presentations have always tended to be quite “white” — more so than ever in recent years, leading to calls of racism and protests.

The Academy does have real problems in this respect. It’s not purposeful racism per se, but it is a form of effective racism that has been an outgrowth of AMPAS membership policies and the structural history of popular films and Hollywood production patterns pretty much since the dawn of the movie industry.

With recent protests being particularly embarrassing to the Academy, AMPAS has now moved to try deal with what they perceive to be their “too many voting old white men” problem.

But they’re doing it in exactly the wrong way, exchanging their existing diversity problems for outright ageism.

Rather than changing their membership and voting rules going forward for new members in a manner that would encourage racial and other diversity, they’ve decided to try cull their oldest members — some in their 90s who have been Academy members for many decades and have always played by the rules — by stripping them of their Oscar voting rights.

While this obviously does not rise to the level of the kind of rampant workplace ageism and discrimination as reported recently by The New York Times, it still is a slap in the face to loyal, older AMPAS members who have done absolutely nothing wrong, and is yet another example of society kicking older persons in the gut as an ostensible “quick fix” solution for complex structural problems. Quick “fixes” — I might add — that typically make those problems far worse rather than fixing anything at all.

Outside of the Hollywood ecosystem, the intricacies of who votes for or receives Oscars is not a matter of much import to most people.

But what AMPAS’ actions tell us about the treatment of older persons in general is very much in scope, and perhaps the sheer ham-handed, doltish approach of the Academy to their very real diversity problems shines a key light on society’s failings in this regard — illuminating the broader issues in a way especially difficult to dismiss or ignore.

And that’s the truth.

–Lauren–
I have consulted to Google, but I am not currently doing so — my opinions expressed here are mine alone.
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The correct term is “Internet” NOT “internet” — please don’t fall into the trap of using the latter. It’s just plain wrong!