This is hurriedly written and unedited; gotta take Besame Mucho to the vet in a few. Apologies for typos/inclarities in advance.
If you didn’t know, something relevant to your genre happened last night. Beasts of the Southern Wild, a fantasy film I’ve been raving about, got nominated for four different Oscars — yeah, they didn’t win any last night, but getting nominated is still awesome. One of those nominations was for the film’s star, Quvenzhané Wallis, who also made history for being the youngest-ever Oscar nominee. She’s 9 years old.
Here’s the part that happened last night: half of Hollywood decided that it hated her.
The reasons for that hate vary. Some of it’s just… Hollywood, land of the unbelievably hateful people who tear each other down to build themselves up. (Where I come from that’s called bullying, and it happens most often in a schoolyard.) There’s a billion snickering comments and articles online right now about the fact that one of the Oscar winners tripped. This is a professional culture of 12-year-olds.
Well. Except. Most of the ones with power are old white guys. They just have the sense of humor of 12-year-olds.
Here’s some things they did:
- The show’s host, Seth MacFarlane, made a joke that I guess was meant to be a jab at George Clooney. Except I don’t think Clooney has ever seen a 9-year-old as a sexual object, which MacFarlane apparently did when he made that joke. Well. Lots of people see little black girls as sexual objects, I guess. MacFarlane was just trying to put her in context. Right? Right?
- Multiple reporters struggled to say her name correctly, sometimes to her face. A few even tried to dub her “little q”. She’s the youngest nominee ever, and they can’t be bothered to learn how to say her name. Hint: it has as many syllables as “Galadriel.”
- Academy voters voted against her because of that name, and said so.
- Oh! And I almost forgot: The Onion called her a cunt. I generally try not to use that word in full, like the n-word — but sometimes it’s important to use it, to bring home the full power of just how ugly a word it is. Especially when applied to a child.
Oh, and it wasn’t just Hollywood misbehaving. The better-known chunks of the feminist community got in on the act, calling her “disgusting” and “insufferable” in the comments. Those people are getting told by quite a few people, but just goes to show you that even (sometimes especially) feminists can be racist fucks.
And what terrible things did Ms. Wallis do to invite this kind of vitriol? Oh, just stuff like this:
Just be herself: talented, happy, pretty, and proud of her achievement. She didn’t misbehave, she didn’t snark at anyone the way winner Jennifer Lawrence did (and Lawrence was awesome for doing so, but it’s interesting how white girls can get away with being confident more easily than black girls. Isn’t it?). Ms. Wallis committed the crime of being confident while black and female. Hey, it happens to all of us, often starting around puberty; I guess Hollywood just decided to start the shaming and systematic tearing-down early.
So here’s the thing: I’ve seen a lot of outrage over this from folks on my Twitter feed, which includes a lot of people in the genre community. It’s heartening to see that. But I can’t help thinking that there should be a lot more outrage than I’m seeing. After all, a fantasy film just came very close to winning an Oscar for Best Picture — yet I don’t see the community even embracing this as a fantasy film, let alone leaping to the defense of one of our biggest stars. I wonder about that. Really, I do.
Here’s what I’d like to see: more people talking about this, in social media and other places. I’d like those people to unfollow The Onion, if they’re following it, and un”like” it on Facebook — because social media capital is valuable these days, and doing these small things is the equivalent of a boycott. You can also write the Onion and tell them what you think of this. I know people are looking up lists of their advertisers even as we speak, so when there’s a list of Onion advertisers to write to, I’ll add that to this post.
But aside from that, what I’d like to see is some good old-fashioned geek rage. I mean, seriously, ya’ll. Geek rage is an awesome and beautiful thing when it gets behind a cause of worth. This one’s worthy.
And I’d like to see it because I was this girl, once. Oh, not famous, but just that cheerfully focused on a goal — in my case, becoming a published novelist. And I’ve had my share of people trying to tear me apart for daring to want such a thing. Like I said, it happens to a lot of us. But a little support goes a long way.
ETA: Closed some open tags, linked to the article about the anon Oscar voter who said he wasn’t voting for her b/c of her name.
Daughter of ETA: The Onion has apologized.
Spoiled Niece of ETA: Apparently people are playing silly buggers, reporting me for spamming my own website. Apologies for the brief downtime, and hopefully it won’t happen again. Note: I hotlinked the “fistpump” gif because I can’t seem to get it to upload on my site. I got it from here, tho’.