The ‘inclusion rider’ Oscars: A ho-hum night with one intriguing kicker
By the end of Sunday’s hours-long Oscars broadcast, “you could not, nor would you want to, escape Frances McDormand,” said Mark Harris in NYMag.com. On a night when Hollywood looked uncertain whether to celebrate or to continue fighting injustices that had been the talk of the town for months, the 60-year-old Best Actress winner delivered the ceremony’s one moment of “genuine unchoreographed excitement.” Capping a season in which the women in the industry started toppling male icons by speaking out against sexual predation, a jittery McDormand called on all the female nominees in the hall to stand in a show of power, then urged the whole gathering to remember two words: “inclusion rider.” Inclusion what?
It was legalese, but it “felt like a break,” said Alison Willmore in BuzzFeed.com. Picking up on an idea floated in a 2016 TED talk, McDormand was suggesting that stars begin insisting on a clause in their contracts to require that every film meet various diversity standards—such as 50 percent women—in the hiring of its crew and secondary cast. Forget generalities; she was pushing people to act. Unfortunately, she is advocating “an unworkable quota system,” said Christine Rosen in The Weekly Standard. Once race and gender become hiring considerations, there can be no end to the claims of underrepresented groups. And unless Hollywood’s unions want to tell their white male dues payers that work is about to dry up, stars can’t win this fight—making the rider talk look like “just another piece of empty Hollywood posturing.”
Half the country was clearly turned off by the posturing of past years, said Marwa Eltagouri in The Washington Post. Sunday’s Oscar broadcast was the lowest-rated in history, down 24 percent from a year ago, and conservative pundits from Fox News to Breitbart.com loved that, blaming the downturn on the show’s predictable slew of anti-Republican jokes and liberal self-congratulation. “Lowest rated Oscars in HISTORY,” President Trump tweeted on Tuesday. “Problem is, we don’t have Stars anymore - except your President (just kidding, of course)!” It’s truly a shame that the Oscars have come to this, said Tyler Smith in Politico.com. The show used to be a moment when all of America—while tuning in to see their favorite stars dressed to dazzle—really did celebrate the magic of cinema. Today, partisanship “washes away any hope” that we’re even watching the same screen.