The Oscars Have a Long Way to Go, Baby!

After watching the Oscars last night, I’ve decided this: In 2014, I’d love to see George Clooney’s cleavage in sequins. And know his diet secrets. Wouldn’t you?

How many men would it take to critique his gown, judge his accessories, natter on about his hairstyle, or dissect his figure, speculating on exercise and eating habits through the looking glass of a photo-shopped idealism? And just for kicks, let’s imagine an animated rabbit, voiced by Scott MacFarlane on a background screen, telling lacerating jokes about obesity and anorexia. There’s just a few people in the audience that might get them.

It took four women, including Guiliana Rancic, to painstakingly critique most of the actresses present, with a few telling exceptions.

Yes, Babies, girls, ah, women, we’ve got a long ways to go! Especially, when traversing the tricky Red Carpet, navigating the Oscars, and perusing the headlines the morning after.

Anne Hathaway, the full talent package, and Oscar winner, gets this headline in today’s Huffington Post: Anne Hathaway ‘Nipples’ On The Oscars Red Carpet Are Super Distracting. The post says nothing about her winning performance or her articulate, heartfelt acceptance speech. Instead, we get Prada’s seam snafu, as if a design flaw was a defining statement and trumped her performance in Les Miserables.

Then there is the commentary on Renee Zellweger’s appearance in the online Daily Mail: ‘What has happened to Renee Zellweger?!! Botox overdose?’ Academy Awards viewers startled by star’s youthful look.

Startled? Really? We live in a youth-crazed culture with extreme pressure on actresses to look 25-forever. It’s a crazy-making, double-bind to be shocked and critical when a 43-year-old actress adds Botox to her prep list for Hollywood’s biggest night. Zellweger gets to choose what’s enough, hopefully before heading down the magic carpet of no-return like Joan Rivers. Whatever the destination or impact, however, it’s her choice, her body. What would have been the spin if she had opted for showing her age? Suddenly, I’m hearing a remix of Scott MacFarlane’s solo performance of: “We saw your wrinkles, I mean boobs.”

But back to the carpet, it’s easy to observe the lens with which we oppress or diminish women, even the most accomplished, on the most celebratory night for artistic achievement in the film industry. And, yes, the Oscars is also a fashion show and a prime, public highlight for designers. Understood. No problem. But the dress critique is only part of the scrutiny reflected in the scalpellic commentary about the actresses’ choices regarding hairstyle and accessories, as well as purported exercise and diet regimens.

In contrast, men on the Red Carpet are asked more questions about their film, their chances of winning, their companions. Their appearance, if noted, might be labeled “handsome” or “hot”, but not explicated ad nauseum with “He’s working it.” We save this for the women. And in these moments, as you can see with Hathaway and Zellweger, you can never really win, even when you do or have.

Of course there is that tiny minority that are immune. Adele, is full-bodied and so likable that no-one wants to go there. Or Jane Fonda, legendary, and well, old, with not-so-plastic-looking surgery or Botox or years of yoga—is pardoned. Sort of.

How about next year, all the women wear the same black, shapeless dress, with a veil? It could be designed by Prada or Valentino and labeled the Burqa Prive. And the men? They’ll go in drag. Just so the designers don’t miss the Oscar limelight. And then, just for fun, how about we agree it really matters how these women performed on the screen, and skip the misogynistic babble down the red carpet and laced throughout the Oscars? And maybe, just maybe, the follow-up print articles could talk about their work. Especially if they won an Oscar. Just for one year.

Besides, if George Clooney is in sequins, imagine what Ben Affleck will wear.

And ergo—even more importantly—will his nipples steal the show?

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