Viola Davis and the ‘white feminist’ backlash

22 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

General Hospital star apologizes for Viola Davis tweet.

My Twitter timeline was ecstatic over the Apple Music spot, directed by Ava DuVernay, the celebrated and under-awarded director of “Selma.” How did a commercial steal the Emmy spotlight?The 67th Primetime Emmy Awards were remarkably progressive, and not just because organizers apparently decided spoiler warnings are an antiquated tradition.

Emmy history was made when “How to Get Away with Murder” star Viola Davis won outstanding actress in a drama series, becoming the first black actress to claim the prize. Elsewhere, Uzo Aduba and Regina King picked up statues for their Orange Is The New Black and American Crime roles, respectively; the female-fronted HBO miniseries Olive Kitteridge proved to be a veritable Emmys magnet; and Transparent was lauded for its exploration of the transgender community. In his opening monologue, Samberg celebrated the fact that this was the most diverse group of nominees in Emmy history—before joking that the bar was set pretty low.

Elsewhere”) and Cicely Tyson (“Sweet Justice”) were nominated in 1986 and 1995, respectively, while Regina Taylor earned back-to-back noms for “I’ll Fly Away” in 1992 and 1993 and Kerry Washington did the same for “Scandal” in 2013 and 2014. Henson — and it’s very, very, very rare to find this in the business — she is the most supportive actress you can possibly imagine.” The rest of this year’s drama lead actress field included “Orphan Black” fan favorite Tatiana Maslany, “House of Cards” First Lady Robin Wright, three-time Emmy winner Claire Danes of “Homeland” and “Mad Men’s” Elisabeth Moss, who lost out on her sixth and final bid for the AMC series. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA noted minorities were “underrepresented by a factor of nearly 9 to 1 among creators of broadcast comedies and dramas” for the 2011-2012 season, and struggled to find directing gigs for either broadcast or cable programs. The disparity between this year’s relatively-diverse acting nominees and its far-less diverse creative ones immediately calls to mind Matt Damon’s controversial claim that diversity should be a consideration during casting, not during behind-the-scenes hiring.

After all, Davis earned her historic win for starring on a show that was launched largely thanks to the name recognition of its executive producer Shonda Rhimes, a black woman who created the first network drama to feature a black female lead since the 1970s. And the much-lauded Olive Kitteridge was written and directed by two women—Jane Anderson and Lisa Cholodenko—who both picked up Emmys for their work on the series. White male creators, of course, can and do create shows with diverse characters—Veep for instance, is a fantastic female-fronted comedy created by a group of men. I can’t seem to get over that line.’ “That was Harriet Tubman in the 1800s,” said Davis, who will soon play the abolitionist in an HBO film. “And let me tell you something: The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.

It was great to see Jill Soloway’s much-deserved win for comedy directing on Transparent, but also disappointing that the writing and directing categories averaged only one or two female nominees apiece. Hensons, the Kerry Washingtons, the Halle Berrys, the Nicole Beharies, the Meagan Goods, to Gabrielle Union: Thank you for taking us over that line.” While everyone else was in awe of the inspiring Tubman quote and the awareness of opportunity, I was most moved by the sisterhood. And Inside Amy Schumer’s win for a variety sketch series was tempered a bit by the reminder that variety series staff writers are still remarkably male-centric.

Statistics suggest film school graduates are a diverse bunch (at least when it comes to gender), so why don’t they all rise to the top of their field with the same regularity? Weiss and David Benioff thanked HBO for “taking a chance on two schmucks with no experience.” It’s a startlingly juxtaposition of two very different perspectives. She basically dismissed the racial disparity, went on to say Davis has no business quoting Harriet Tubman and made the grand assumption that Davis has never been discriminated against.

And it’s something that Matt Damon—or anyone else who’s still under the mistaken impression that Hollywood is a meritocracy—will hopefully keep in mind in the future. This is the same Viola Davis who was pretty much called ugly in comparison to lighter skinned actresses in the New York Times, the very same commentary that called Shonda Rhimes an angry black woman. I’ve been a fan of the “If I shine, you shine” mentality since the ’90s, when Wu-Tang Clan and other hip-hop giants talked about winning through unity. But more recently, writer Ann Friedman has gotten credit for the Shine Theory as it relates to declawing cat fights and pushing sisterhood. “When we hate on women who we perceive to be more ‘together’ than we are, we’re really just expressing the negative feelings we have about our own careers, or bodies, or relationships,” Friedman writes. “Here’s my solution: When you meet a woman who is intimidatingly witty, stylish, beautiful, and professionally accomplished, befriend her.” So when I say black girls rock, it doesn’t mean other girls don’t.

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