Gotham Awards Won’t Define Acting Categories by Gender
Should actor awards be gender neutral? The question has arisen for years, with zealous arguments for and against.
But the biggest ceremonies that honor acting, aware that change would end a cultural hornet’s nest, have adhered to tradition. Best actor. Best actress.
On Thursday, a milestone on the annual Oscar route broke ranks. The Gotham Awards have said that starting from its ceremony in November, acting awards will no longer be broken down by gender. The Gothams will replace its Best Actress and Best Actor categories with a single category for an Outstanding Main Performance. For the first time, there will be a category for supporting roles: Outstanding Support Performance.
Each category can have up to 10 nominees, the field being chosen, by custom, by committees of film critics, festival programmers and film curators. Separate juries made up of writers, directors, actors, producers and other film professionals will determine the final recipients, as always. The Gothams actor categories previously had five nominees.
“There are so many talented non-binary individuals out there, and it’s not fair to force them into male and female boxes,” said Jeffrey Sharp, executive director of the Gotham Film and Media Institute in New York City. “We have a very proud history of inclusiveness. It’s part of our DNA. But it was time for us to evolve too.
Will other important ceremonies follow?
“We can only speak for ourselves, but we’re used to leading the conversation,” said Mr Sharp, referring to the Gotham Awards’ position as the first major ceremony of the award-collecting season. at Hollywood.
The influential Berlin Film Festival went gender-neutral with its Spring Performance Awards. While not taken seriously as markers of artistic achievement, the MTV Movie & TV Awards stopped separating actor awards by gender in 2017, as well as the MTV Video Music Awards. The Grammys eliminated the division in 2012.
But none of the organizations behind the most prestigious acting awards – Oscars, BAFTA, Tonys and Emmys – have indicated they will take the same step. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which manages the Oscars, may have gone further, telling the New York Times in 2019 that although it planned to keep its current structure in place, it would “continue to be sensitive to changing conversation. ” The Oscars for Best Actress and Best Actor were first awarded in 1929.
The Screen Actors Guild Awards, Independent Spirit Awards, and Golden Globes also have male and female actor categories.
The debate has its roots in older conversations about whether carving out a place in a male dominated field for one group, in this case women, comes at the cost of excluding others. .
Those seeking change argue that in addition to forcing non-binary performers into boxes, gender categories give the false appearance that female lead roles are much more prevalent than they actually are.
“We should be more afraid of maintaining a discriminatory and sexist policy than abolishing it,” wrote non-binary actress Asia Kate Dillon, known for her role on Showtime’s “Billions” in an essay last year. They added: “There are ultimately two tangible obstacles to abolishing the actress category at the awards show, and they are – to be frank – the money and the feelings.”
Proponents of gender categories say that in the absence of such accolades, men would dominate the nominees and winners. There are also those who reject potential change as an example of rampant progressive ideology.
Mr Sharp said the concern about maintaining a fair mix of candidates when removing gender categories was “valid”.
“In terms of the danger of being distorted in one way or another, we have great faith in the people who make our appointment decisions,” he said, referring to Gotham’s committee system. Awards. (The New York Times is a corporate sponsor of the awards and had no role in the decision regarding the new categories.)
Mr. Sharp noted that his organization’s long-standing “Revolutionary Actor” award, which will be renamed “Revolutionary Performer,” has always been gender-neutral, having gone to stars like Amy Adams (“Junebug”), Elliot Page (“Juno”). , Michael B. Jordan (“Fruitvale Station”) and Mya Taylor (“Tangerine”).
The last Gotham Awards ceremony took place in January and was held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nicole Beharie was named Best Actress for her performance in “Miss Juneteenth” and Riz Ahmed won the Best Actor award for “Sound of Metal”.
The Gotham Film and Media Institute (formerly the Independent Filmmaker Project) also said Thursday that it has created two new TV categories: Groundbreaking Non-Fictional Series and Outstanding Performances of a New Series.
Cara Buckley contributed reports.
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