In a few hours’ time, tout Hollywood will be attending the event of the year: the Oscars. An event shrouded in controversy.

Let’s just get it out of the way straight away, shall we? According to Etienne Augé, an associate professor at the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication, the Oscars are a major farce. “The Oscars are not about the best films, but rather about the amount of money invested in marketing campaigns for those films. I watch an immense number of films, and believe me, the Oscar winners are nowhere near the best films. Rather they are the films that receive the greatest amount of financial backing.”

Absent stars

When this year’s Oscar nominations were announced, a major debate ensured, as all the nominees turned out to be white. Stars such as Jada Pinkett Smith and director Spike Lee subsequently decided to boycott the awards ceremony, to protest the lack of recognition for Afro-American actors.

As if that’s the only thing that is wrong with the Oscars, Augé says indignantly. “Why is no one protesting the lack of nominations for Latin American or Asian actors? No one ever mentions them. And don’t tell me that their turn will come, because that’s complete bullshit.”

What about women?

And while we are on the subject, we may as well have a look at Hollywood’s largest minority: women. “Even now, women are not considered fully fledged film makers. Female directors as a matter of course receive less money to make movies than their male counterparts, supposedly because women are not as strong as men. As if you need muscles to direct a movie. Things like that infuriate me.”

“It’s fine to try and change the Oscars, but the event merely exemplifies a more wide-spread problem in the United States,” Augé laments. “It’s fine trying to change the nominations, but even so, the fact remains that white men are calling the shots. It is their view of the world which is being disseminated through movies. Make no mistake, inequality is still the norm, not just in the United States, but in the Netherlands as well.”

Equal opportunities

So by all means watch the Oscars gala if you like a bit of glamour and show, but don’t do it to decide what the best films are, Augé recommends. “But by all means let’s pay more attention to creating equal opportunities for everyone. Power must be divided. The idea of middle-aged white men holding all the power is completely obsolete.”