What Happened at the Emmys
It is hard to believe we are heading into the last few months of 2020, a year that has felt almost unbearable due to huge upheavals of everyone’s lives. While changes brought on by COVID-19 have been uncomfortable and often painful, the virus has brought to light lots of societal issues. We have seen a global reaction to situations surrounding police brutality, for-profit prisons, internment camps, and challenges to our democracy. On a microcosmic level, at least compared to those issues, the film industry has faced skeletons in its own closet.
The industry has received scrutiny in a variety of areas, including: its long-lived “boys club” environment, alleged lack of regard for the emotional and physical safety of crew members, calls for increased diversity in all sectors, and surreptitious actions towards filming during a pandemic. We have seen swift and highly publicized changes in response to the scrutiny. Ellen addressed toxic work environment allegations against her show, key networks fired several high-level executives based on a plethora of allegations, the Academy started its massive diversity initiative, and the Baftas also unveiled diversity initiatives yesterday.
While one could argue that many corporations are reacting to avoid being victims of “cancel culture”, there is also an argument that more people are in powerful positions who understand the importance of implementing changes now more than ever. Although most of these initiatives will take time to unfold, we recently got a glimpse of how the industry’s potential future …the Emmys.
In this week’s blog, we take a look at the Emmys that aired this past weekend and what itcould mean for “New Hollywood”. Film Connx is a source of valuable information on subjects that matter most to the film community. Enjoy!
This past Sunday, the highly anticipated 2020 Emmys aired. Few award shows have taken place this year, and many were excited to see the Emmy’s format and its approach to delivering an entertaining show, while taking the necessary Covid-19 precautions.
The show was hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, who was joined by a few celebrity presenters. Almost every presenter mentioned the importance of Covid-19 testing and social distancing. Most categories were presented remotely, with the winners zooming in from the comfort of their homes or, in Schitt’s Creek’s case, from a designated space meant for select cast and crew. While presumed to be a logistical nightmare, the show managed to announce winners smoothly and presented them with the physical awards via interns outfitted in hazmat suits who drove across Los Angeles to every nom’s house with Emmy statue in hand. Others who were not easily reachable received large black boxes that presented the winner with the award via a robotic hand and confetti.
Musical artist H.E.R. performed for the “In Memoriam” and that portion of the night, which seemed to be more somber than most years and ended with a video tribute for Chadwick Boseman. Almost all of the celebrities used their platforms to speak about the importance of voting, and some, including Uzo Aduba and Regina King, used their acceptance speeches and fashion to advocate for justice for Breonna Taylor.
There was a notable increase in diversity across all categories. HBO’s Watchmen snagged the most wins for drama. Zendaya won outstanding actress in a drama series – becoming the second black woman to win it and the youngest actress to receive the award. Other notable wins for diversity included LGBTQ+ show Schitt’s Creek sweeping the comedy section, Uzo Aduba winning for her role in Mrs. America, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s award for his role in Watchmen, and RuPaul making history with Drag Race by breaking the record for most host wins. There was also an honoring for Tyler Perry who was awarded the Governors Award for the work he has done to diversify Hollywood to which he then gave a beautiful speech on “the stories of within our quilts”. All of these recognitions illustrate how much the film industry and its accolades are growing in the right direction!
Diversity and the Impact of Diversity
Film Connx shares viewers’ delight in seeing increased diversity in nominations and wins. It illustrates that the industry is beginning to acknowledge brilliance in creative professionals of all backgrounds. We look forward to the day when #OscarsSoWhite and #AwardsSoWhite are a distant memory that no longer applies. The entertainment industry immensely benefits from diversifying its material, enabling deeper storylines, exploring complex characters, and bringing important historical events to light that have previously been buried by mainstream media.
Some corners of Hollywood have failed to take initiative to diversify, stating that “majority audiences,” would not accept or support storylines with which they could not identify. However, 2020 has revealed damaging societal inequalities and also illustrated the commonality of the human experience. Both of these realities will likely result in richer and more diverse content that will resonate with broad audiences.
There is, however, still room for growth. While Emmy nominations and wins were noticeably more diverse this year, one show’s absence from nominations was deafening: HBO’s Insecure. The snub of this beloved show featuring complex black female leads is reminder that the struggle continues, especially since award shows are often the litmus for the types of future projects that receive funding. Achieving diverse representation in each category, therefore, matters a great deal and should remain a priority.