Don’t Tear Down Men of Color in Lamenting the Lack of Female Directing Nominees
If Bong Joon-ho wins Best Director for the film Parasite, he will be the second non-white person to win the award and the second director of Asian ancestry to win. While we lament, rightfully, the way female directors have been pushed out from the Best Director category, we cannot ignore that it is also important for men of color and men from marginalized groups who also get to crack holes in the industry.
As of right now, five Latin American directors have received eight nominations for Best Director, and three have actually won the award five times (del Toro, Iñárritu, and Cuarón); five Asian directors, and one Asian-American director, have been nominated a total of seven times in this category, and one (Ang Lee) has won the award two times; and six Black directors have been nominated a total of six times in this category, but none have won the award. No woman of color or Latin American female director has ever been nominated for Best Director.
Do I think we should be furious that Greta Gerwig has been snubbed for Little Women? Absolutely. However, we should have that same energy for Lulu Wang and Taika Waititi. The Farewell being completely snubbed is a disgrace, and JoJo Rabbit being up for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Johansson), and Best Adapted Screenplay while getting no directing nomination is jarring.
If we say #OscarsSoWhite and lament the industry’s lack of progress when it comes to race, that means celebrating when directors of color do make it. Bong Joon-ho is also a director who has crafted masterpieces, spoken about the complications of class within those films, and is one of the few directors who seems to see Octavia Spencer as someone capable of playing more than a maid or someone maid-adjacent.
With all due respect to Greta Gerwig, her work, while brilliant, do not add racial or ethnic diversity to the mix when it comes to the Academy. As we move forward, we need to recognize that even within feminism, we sometimes fail to be truly intersectional because we are still so focused on the accomplishments of cis, hetero white women. I love Little Women, but that doesn’t mean we should erase the accomplishments of marginalized male directors to uplift white female directors who struggle with diversity.
I wish that the Oscars did a better job of representing the amazing pool of people working today, but that doesn’t mean just picking one woman to elevate over everyone else. It means making sure the ground is equal for everyone.
Until then, I’m sitting here rooting for#Parasite for all the awards, because that is a film that I genuinely think represents the forward-thinking elements of filmmaking, and the kind of work I want to see more of.
(image: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
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